The Sounders are one point off last year's team-record pace, and much of that has been due to the stellar play of goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
Stats can be both deceiving and telling when it comes to Michael Gspurning.
For starters, the Sounders FC goalkeeper didn’t have to make a single save in Saturday’s 2-0 win against rival Vancouver. It’s a figure that hardly accounts for Gspurning’s activity, however, which included coming off his line to snuff out a seventh-minute breakaway and punching out a dangerous cross two minutes later.
The yearlong stats are the ones that carry weight, as Seattle is more than 70 percent through its regular season.
With Gspurning in the starting lineup, the Sounders are 8-2-1. When he was out 13 games with a hip strain, the team went 3-4-6.
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“He’s a big presence back there,” said coach Sigi Schmid. “He’s a guy you look back and you’re confident in. … He’s a tremendous asset for our team, not just in what he can do as a goalkeeper, but in the voice he brings to the field.”
The numbers back that up. Among goalkeepers with more than two starts, Gspurning leads MLS with a 0.57 goals-against average and a 72.7 win percentage. His 79.3 save percentage ranks second in the league.
What the numbers don’t show, though, is the danger Gspurning eliminates with his athleticism and 6-foot-5 frame.
“He’s a big goalie, so you can rely on him going out and getting those balls,” said defender Jeff Parke of Gspurning’s play on crosses and corner kicks. “We have a lot of faith in him.”
Even missing its No. 1 goalkeeper for part of this season, the Sounders have 40 points in 24 games, one point off last year’s record pace. And Seattle had to make up a lot of ground after a franchise-worst nine-game winless streak earlier this year. That occurred when Gspurning was out injured.
The Sounders might have had their best defensive performance of the season Saturday — a showing highlighted by not allowing a shot on goal for the first time this year. Overall, Seattle is second in MLS with a 1.00 goals-against average.
“I’m happy with the guys in front of me,” Gspurning said. “We’ve had a great team effort.”
About four months after undergoing major knee surgery, rookie forward Babayele Sodade has been cleared for partial participation in Sounders training.
The 22-year-old tore his ACL in March during Olympic qualifying for the Canadian national team.
“The more progress I see, the more motivation I get waking up in the morning and saying, ‘Yes, I want to do this,’ ” Sodade said. “The first couple months were tough … but you’ve just got to keep pushing.”
• Forward Fredy Montero threw out the first pitch at Tuesday night’s Mariners game against the Cleveland Indians. Only three Sounders have had the honor — coach Sigi Schmid in 2009 and Maykel Galindo, a forward in the United Soccer Leagues, in 2006.
• Midfielder Andy Rose suffered a broken rib Saturday on a rash tackle by Vancouver’s Gershon Koffie late in the game. The Whitecaps midfielder has been suspended a game and fined an undisclosed amount by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for the action, the league announced Tuesday. Koffie was also fined an additional amount for an “improper gesture” afterward.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers
|Gspurning by the numbers:|
|Here’s how Sounders FC goalkeeper Michael Gspurning ranks with the best in MLS (11-game minimum):|
|Goalkeeper||Team||Win pct.||GAA||Save pct.|
|Michael Gspurning||Sounders FC||1st||1st||2nd|
|Jimmy Nielsen||Sporting KC||3rd||2nd||5th|
|Bill Hamid||DC United||4th||3rd||1st|