Andy Gruenebaum is going home. And he's going to the champions.
Sporting Kansas City announced on Monday that the club had acquired goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum from the Columbus Crew in exchange for a second round pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. Gruenebaum is expected to compete for the starting goalkeeper position with Eric Kronberg after incumbant and MLS Cup hero Jimmy Nielsen retired following Kansas City's title-winning victory against Real Salt Lake.
"Andy is a very capable goalkeeper, someone who has been successful in Major League Soccer and has had a lot of games in the league," Sporting manager Peter Vermes said in a statement. "He is a great addition to our team and a complement to our goalkeepers. We needed someone with a lot of experience because we're in multiple major competitions in 2014."
- Soccer quandary: When is it OK for a goalkeeper to play hurt?
Gruenebaum, 30, accumulated 82 appearances in MLS competition (including playoffs) in eight seasons with the Crew, recording a 1.27 goals against average. He led MLS with 124 saves in 2012 and was a finalist for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year after being named the Crew's MVP and Defender of the Year.
An Overland Park, Kan., native, Gruenebaum was an All-American at Blue Valley North High School and was the Player of the Year in Kansas after leading the Mustangs to the state championship. He becomes the seventh Kansas City native on Sporting KC's roster, along with Matt Besler, Christian Duke, Kevin Ellis, Jon Kempin, Erik Palmer-Brown and Seth Sinovic.
"I could not be more excited to come back home and play in front of family and friends," Gruenebaum said. "The ownership, coaching staff, players and fans associated with Sporting KC are first class, and I look forward to working with two amazing goalkeepers to help win another championship. I would like to thank Peter and the rest of the organization for giving me this opportunity. My wife and I are ecstatic to be able to call Kansas City home once again."
Columbus signed goalkeeper Steve Clark following a trade with the Seattle Sounders on Monday, paving the way for Gruenebaum's move to Kansas City.
“We would like to thank Andy for his contributions to the Crew over the past eight seasons,” said Columbus sporting director and head coach Gregg Berhalter. “He’s a good pro and we’re happy to have worked out a deal that allows him to return to his hometown."