Sounders, Real Salt Lake each have top keepers
The 5-foot-9 Rimando is allowing one goal per game for Major League Soccer-leading RSL, while the 6-foot-5 Gspurning has allowed 1.07 for the No. 2 Sounders.
"It's good to see that there are so many different styles -- and all of them can be successful," Gspurning said after training Wednesday. "That's a great thing about goalkeeping."
The two face off Friday, when RSL visits CenturyLink Field. And while the top spot in MLS is at stake for the clubs, the rivalry between the keepers is a friendly one.
"I have a lot of respect for Nick as a person, and also as a keeper, of course," Gspurning said. "He's doing well so many years now. It's always fun and it gives you some other percentage of effort -- if you see the other guy is doing well, then you don't want to fall behind."
Both are veteran keepers, and their resumes show little to separate them.
Rimando, 34, has 12 caps with the United States national team, and was fourth in MLS Goalkeeper of the Year voting last season. Gspurning, 32, has three caps with the Austrian national team and was third in 2012 MLS goalkeeper voting.
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid noted something else Gspurning, Rimando and many other successful goalkeepers have in common.
"Generally, when the players like the goalkeeper, they seem to work harder for the goalkeeper," he said. "... Michael is a likable guy; the guys work hard for him. Nick's a likable guy; the guys work hard for him. ... From that standpoint then, they're similar. Obviously Nick, his feet are very good -- better than most goalkeepers -- and he's very comfortable playing that way. But then Michael has an advantage in terms of just his size, coming for crosses and dealing with those kinds of things. I think they're both very, very good in their own way."
Dempsey, Johnson returning
National team members Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson are expected to return to Sounders training today. Dempsey played 90 minutes Tuesday in the USA's 2-0 win over Mexico. Johnson went 75 minutes and scored a goal before leaving after a hard fall. Neither has been ruled out of the Real Salt Lake match.
"They both say they feel pretty good, but we'll see how they feel (Thursday) and we'll make those decisions (then)," Schmid said.
Schmid did not rule out midfielder Brad Evans, although he stressed the club doesn't want to rush Evans back from a calf injury. ... Ticket sales for the RSL game have topped 52,000, the Sounders announced Wednesday. ... The Sounders and Xbox have extended their jersey sponsorship agreement through the 2014 season.
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