It was a head-scratcher, for sure.
Seeing Michael Gspurning grab the ball a yard outside the penalty box is an image many Sounders fans won’t forget for a while. It happened in the 85th minute as Seattle was protecting a 1-0 lead against Colorado in the Western Conference knockout round.
The consequence? A red card from referee Silviu Petrescu for apparently denying a goal-scoring opportunity.
Gspurning will be suspended for the first leg of a conference semifinal Saturday against the Portland Timbers. He explained his view of the bizarre play after the game:
“Sometimes goalkeepers have to make decisions in split seconds. It happened on the other side with (Clint) Irwin and it happened to me. I just wanted to be ready if the ball is bouncing low. We talked about this at halftime — that they would chip the ball over the defense — and I wanted to be ready and make the step forward. Then it bounced a little higher than as expected, and I thought, ‘OK, I’m not too far from the box, so I should make a few steps back and catch it.’ I think I missed one step back.”
Afterward Rapids forward Edson Buddle tried to get the ball from Gspurning, and then reacted as though he had been struck by the Sounders goalkeeper.
Asked if the red card might have been for the contact, however slight it seemed, Gspurning was under the impression it was for the hand-ball but also added what happened with Buddle, whose rolling around on the ground only added to the craziness of the moment.
“He was coming to me wanted to grab ball, but I held the ball and defended the ball in this case, of course,” Gspurning said. “I don’t know what was going on there. I didn’t do anything, just protected the ball, and I think that’s my right.”
Coach Sigi Schmid didn’t really argue the red card after the game, but did wonder why Irwin wasn’t ejected for a hard foul during a Clint Dempsey breakaway.
Seattle’s backup Marcus Hahnemann, who played out the final minutes of Wednesday’s win, is in line to start Saturday against the Timbers (perhaps longer?). League pool goalkeeper Doug Herrick will almost assuredly serve as backup.
Gspurning said missing the first leg of the rivalry action is “very disappointing, but I’m happy for the team. I’m happy for the team that we’re through, that (what it’s) all about. I know that Marcus will be ready, and that’s all that matter. Soccer is a team sport, not from 11 guys, but the whole squad.”
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So… what did you make of the play?