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January 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

A stop and chat with GK coach Tom Dutra

dutra mug 2012.jpgOddly enough, the Sounders have fewer goalkeepers in training camp right now (four) than they had on the roster at the end of last year (five).

The position group, as expected, saw a couple casualties over the offseason with the team declining contract options on Andrew Weber (now in preseason with Real Salt Lake) and Bryan Meredith (since signed with Sweden’s IK Brage).

The remaining three under contract are Michael Gspurning, Marcus Hahnemann and Josh Ford. They’re joined by invitee Doug Herrick, a Seattle native who played for the U-23s last season, and coach Sigi Schmid said another could join in Arizona.

Reporters got a chance to chat to goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra after Tuesday’s practice about a variety of topics, and here is the transcript:

* * *

(How are things going with one less goalkeeper?) “One less goalkeeper, but last year we started the preseason with just three healthy goalkeepers [Ed note: Ford was hurt, Hahnemann wasn’t signed yet]. This year, we’ve got our four goalkeepers, three that are signed. Dougie has progressed and he’s pushing Josh, but right now we’re set with our goalkeepers.”

(From the outside perspective there appears to be a clear depth. Is that a fair assessment?) “Yes, clearly. Michael is our No. 1 going into the season. Marcus is our No. 2. Josh is our No. 3. That’s the way it is right now.”

(How has Hahnemann looked coming off the offseason?) “He’s looked good, man. I’ve told those guys that the last two days. Yesterday my notes after training were, ‘God, these guys look good!’ with an asterisk of, ‘I wonder what they’re going to look like tomorrow.’ And they were very good today, as well. You’ve got two veterans guys that have been through it so many times. Michael looks very good. He put in a very good offseason of strength training and he looks a lot stronger now than he did last year at this time. Marcus, surprisingly to me, has looked really good. He’s looked fit, and it’s not easy — he’s 41 years old. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s battling through it. Arizona is where we’ll see where they’re really at because we’ll really push them. Right now is getting ready for that part of training camp.”

(Last year’s dip came when Gspurning went down. Do you feel more comfortable if that situation arises this year?) “I felt very comfortable with Andrew last year as our backup, but unfortunately when Michael went down, Andrew was hurt. Then we had a pretty young kid in Bryan. But yeah, if Michael goes down, for sure (we’re comfortable with) Marcus. For me, we have the best goalkeeping tandem in the league right now. Who’s better? Really, who’s better? I’ve told a lot of coaches that last week when we were at the combine. We feel really good about where we are right now with our goalkeepers. I’m lucky. Very lucky.”

(What made Ford stand out to keep a spot on the team instead of Meredith and Weber?) “We’ve always liked Josh. Josh has a very good mentality. He competes every day. He’s very tough to beat. He doesn’t give up very many goals. He’s very athletic. But he just has a strong mentality. He has an ability to come back from giving up a goal to not giving up a goal for a long stretches of games and long stretches of training sessions. We felt that he kept progressing — not that Bryan didn’t progress — but he just pushed beyond Bryan. And Andrew was a decision of where it was between Andrew and Marcus, and the opportunity to keep Marcus as our No. 2, that was the decision that was made. I was very happy with Andrew, but how it came about, Marcus was just a better option.”

(Do you think Ford can eventually be an MLS starter?) “Yes, I do. That’s why we kept him. Now he’ll be able to get more reserves games. It’s now, ‘Can we keep that progression going?’ For him, it’s to stay healthy first and foremost and keep progressing. He has some weaknesses, but his strengths are what have kept him here.”

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