TUKWILA, Wash. — Although few seemed to notice at the time, Michael Gspurning will be forced to miss the April 2 CONCACAF Champions League semifinal match against Santos Laguna.
The card was apparently issued in the 86th minute, around the same time Tigres were making a sub. TV cameras did not record the infraction and the official box score initially made no note of it. Even the Sounders didn’t think much of it until they were notified a day later about the suspension.
“CONCACAF has a rule where [yellow-card accumulation] wipes clean after the quarterfinal stage,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters at Tuesday's training session. “In any other tournament, it’s usually after the group stage where it wipes clean. We don’t have any recourse. I thought the yellow was really harsh. They were subbing at the time. Gspurning was waiting for the player to exit the field on the endline and the referee gave him a yellow card for not putting the ball into play.”
Gspurning admitted that in many European leagues, referees are quicker to issue cards to goalkeepers for time-wasting than they are in MLS. But he was still caught off guard this time.
“I told the referee, ‘There’s still a striker in the box, why should I kick the ball when the striker is in the box?’” Gspurning said. “In MLS, it’s better because the referees know you get a fine from the league and they accept it if you take your time. It’s not like I unlaced my laces or something.”
One of the reasons Gspurning has often cited about why he chose to come to the Sounders was a chance to play in Champions League. Missing this game was a bitter pill.
“Of course I’m upset,” Gspurning said. “It’s an important game and I wanted to play.”
As frustrated as they may be, the Sounders are taking some solace in the knowledge that Marcus Hahnemann is about as capable a backup as any in MLS. This will be just his second competitive appearance since joining the Sounders late last year.
“It’s the reason we have him,” Schmid said. “It’s a big-game opportunity for him and the team is very confident in Marcus as well.”