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October 11, 2013 at 1:01 PM

A stop and chat with Sounders FC goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra

dutra mug 2013Nine goals allowed will bring about some tough questions and tough decisions. One of those recently has surrounded Sounders FC’s goalkeeper situation, and whether it is time to bench Michael Gspurning in place of Marcus Hahnemann.

Reporters spoke with goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra about the position after Friday’s practice, and here is a transcript:

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(How fragile is a GK’s confidence and is that something you actively have to worry about?) “I think you have to worry about it any time you take nine in two games, for sure. Even the best goalkeepers have struggled with that. That’s a tough one to come back from, and whether the goals are your fault or not your fault, it’s still in the back of your mind. You’re the one picking the ball out of the net, so it’s tough.”

(Does a game off make that worse or better?) “Oh man, that’s a tough one. What makes it better? What makes that better is a good performance in training sessions, and what makes that better is a good performance in games, and what makes that better is just getting on with it and training and moving on to the next play.”

(What have been some things that he could’ve done better in these last two games?) “I’m not sure there was something he could do better, it’s just maybe reading the play a littler bit earlier. Certain things like that. Maybe recognizing the breakdowns a little bit earlier. Again, that’s being nitpicky, too. Things are going to break down, and if you read it right, you’ll be able to make the save. If you read it wrong, you’ve got it wrong. That’s part of the position, too.”

(Gspurning mentioned he’s faced 10-12 one-on-one situations. Have you seen that and does that play into it?) “He’s being exposed, being exposed in the back, and knowing what he’s facing right now is that we’re getting broken down at the wrong times. He’s being called upon a lot in one-on-one situations, and anytime a goalkeeper is put in that position, the attacker has the advantage. Hopefully you get it right and put yourself in the right position, and either the guy hits you with the ball or you make an unbelievable reaction save, but eventually it’s going to break down.”

(How much is talk about goalkeepers different now, especially considering a change, then say in April or May or earlier in the year?) “If we’re in July or so, maybe it changes a little bit of your thought process and how you go about it, but the reality is we’ve taken nine and we have to discuss every position regardless of if we have three games to go or not. The playoffs are right around the corner, but we have to get in the playoffs, too. We don’t want to fall into the playoffs because of some other results. We have to get results.”

(Is this the first time in five years that you’ve had a question about who is No. 1 goalkeeper?) “Yeah. In five years, it’s the first time I think, yeah, you question who’s going to be your No. 1. It’s not like they’re going to be perfect every game, and you just keep getting on with it and you keep training hard, but yeah, it’s something we’re talking about.”

(What is your role in that decision?) “Sigi and I, we’ve talked about a lot (about it). We’ll talk a lot about the position whether it’s a good game or bad game. We talk about every position on the field, and obviously with myself working with the goalkeepers, we’ll talk about every goal that was given up, every save, and we’ll just go through it and talk about the process for the next game. Who’s going to play? Who’s not going to play? Whether it’s a left back, right back or goalkeeper, we talk about it. Nothing is a given.”

(How much does all the good Gspurning has done the past two years play into it?) “Absolutely. He’s a guy that’s done the business for us, and you’re talking about a goalkeeper who up until two games ago was second or third in goals allowed. He was one shutout away from getting the most shutouts ever for the club, and now two games later you’re talking about picking nine balls out of the goal. All of a sudden, does he become a bad goalkeeper? Or all of a sudden does he become your No. 2? No. That is just what has happened the last two games. Unfortunately those games have happened, but you don’t all of a sudden just become a goalkeeper that’s not very good anymore, because he’s been huge for us. He’s been very good for us.”

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