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October 10, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Poll: Is it time for a change at goalkeeper?

Photo credit: John Lok, The Seattle Times

Photo credit: John Lok, The Seattle Times

Here is part of what Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid had to say after Wednesday’s 4-1 home loss to Vancouver:

“We’ve taken nine goals in two games. Our defense has been porous. … Our goalkeeping hasn’t been good. Our central defending hasn’t been good.”

There is something that stands out in that statement (expanded comments here), and that was mentioning the goalkeeping.

Goalkeeper, of course, is a position unlike any in soccer — only one can play at a time — so when the coach says the starter hasn’t played well, it leads to a follow-up question: Is it time to consider a change?

Schmid was asked as much in his postgame press conference as it relates to Michael Gspurning (starter) and Marcus Hahnemann (backup).

“I think we have to look at everything,” the coach said. “I think we have to look at goalkeeper, I think we have to look at defenders, we have to look at midfielders, we have to look at attackers, because the performance of the team hasn’t been good enough. There’s nobody that’s a given right now.”

Schmid, asked later about Gspurning’s struggles, said he wasn’t going to single Gspurning out, and that no one on the team is making plays right now.

Afterward, Gspurning was relayed the sentiment that all positions are up for grabs, including his own, and here was his response when asked about his own performance: “Well, I feel like the rest of the team — horrible. I’m sorry (to my) teammates about the last goal because this was clearly my fault. But it was a not game-changer. It wasn’t fun, the last two games, always 10 or 12 one-on-one situations and the striker can decide where he wants the ball. OK, if you’re lucky, you make some saves. This happens, and, yeah, I can’t say anything more. My mind is empty.”

For context, Gspurning was arguably the best goalkeeper in MLS last season and had one of the best goals-against averages in league history. Before these last two games, he might have been considered another Goalkeeper of the Year finalist; this season he is one shutout short of tying Kasey Keller‘s record for clean sheets in a season (11).

Ultimately, goalkeeper is unique again in that it is a position hard to evaluate by statistics, where bad figures don’t always reflect bad performance, and vice versa. There are certain intangibles, also, that can’t be categorized in stats, like decision making in coming out for crosses and coming off your line or even things like communication and organization of the defense.

So weighing all of that, what do you think?

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