By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning saw no benefit to his benching at Portland on Sunday, but he said Wednesday that he is looking forward to re-establishing himself as one of best keepers in Major League Soccer.
“Of course, I’m not happy with the situation,” he said. “But … it’s up to the coach. I just can say I am proud of what I have done the two years until now, and the personal success I had and with the team. This didn’t change at all.”
Coach Sigi Schmid started Marcus Hahnemann in a 1-0 loss to the Timbers. The decision to bench Gspurning for the first time in his Sounders career came after he surrendered nine goals over the previous two games.
“You expect from a keeper of (high) quality that he’s making a couple of saves sometimes where you don’t expect it,” said Gspurning, who opened the month among the league leaders in wins, shutouts and goals-against average. “And of course I expect this, too. And so these two games I didn’t make the save. … I think we didn’t take the result as a team, and just my opinion the only thing I can do now is looking forward, give the best in practice and look forward.”
Gspurning lived up to those words Wednesday by staying on the Starfire Sports Complex training pitch long after his teammates had departed.
Schmid has not named a starting goalkeeper for Saturday when the Sounders visit FC Dallas. However, after the loss in Portland he implied the change was not a demotion, but a short-term break designed to let Gspurning “step back and view it from the outside.”
“To be honest, I don’t see anything good about it at the moment that I’m not playing,” Gspurning said. “(Schmid) explained it like this, that I was unlucky in the situation that was not my fault, but unlucky, and he wanted to give me the break. Yeah, as long as it is a break, it’s OK.”
Schmid and designated player Clint Dempsey each had complaints about recent MLS officiating decisions.
Regarding the MLS Disciplinary Committee’s fines of $5,000 against the club and $1,000 against him personally for “mass confrontation” around referee Hilario Grajeda, Schmid said: “I don’t know what they want the coach to do. We can address it, we can talk about it before the game and do those things. But … if I run out of our box and pull guys back, I get a bigger fine. So what am I supposed to do? I just stand there and say, ‘OK, I’m going to end up having to pay a thousand dollars.’”
Dempsey was asked about the hard tackle early in Portland that left him with a sprained shoulder.
“I think it’s a tackle that (he) should get punished for a little bit because you are on a counterattack and (MLS is) trying to promote attacking soccer,” he said. … I think (MLS and the English Premier League) are physical, but I think it’s a little bit more reckless here. I think in the Premier League that you could get punished more, so you have to be careful about when you do go to ground.”
Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson were limited in training Wednesday, but Schmid said none have been ruled out for Saturday. … Midfielder Steve Zakuani (groin) did not practice after suffering what Schmid called “a setback” in Portland. … Midfielder Brad Evans will travel directly to Dallas where he will meet the Sounders on Thursday after the U.S. national team concluded World Cup qualifying Tuesday with a 3-2 win at Panama. A USA loss in that match would have ended Mexico’s World Cup chances. Schmid and Dempsey indicated they were happy about the U.S. win even if it benefited their chief rival. Johnson, however, felt differently. “I was happy for my teammates,” he said. “But in Eddie Johnson’s perfect world, I’d like to see Panama win and them go and not Mexico.”