With some big shoes to fill, the Seattle Sounders opted for a big player. On Wednesday, the club announced the signing of 30-year-old Austrian goalkeeper Michael Gspurning to replace the retiring Kasey Keller in goal.
Per Major League Soccer and club policy, terms were not disclosed. Gspurning (pronounced guh-SHPURN-ing) will be added to the roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Clearance and will report to Seattle for preseason training camp in January.
With the recent retirement of the Seattle’s top two goalkeepers – Keller and backup Terry Boss – Gspurning is expected to step in as the team’s starting 'keeper in 2012.
"First off, you don't replace Kasey Keller; what you're looking for is a new goalkeeper," said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said in a club release. "We like Michael's background and pedigree. We like his size. He's got good feet, so we can play through him, and he's very good on crosses, takes good angles and has good hands."
Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 209 pounds, Gspurning has made 96 career appearances in the top leagues in Austria and Greece. He is coming away from four seasons with Skoda Xanthi of the Greek Superleague, where he earned two All-Star nods, was twice honored as the top foreign goalkeeper and currently holds the league record for longest road shutout streak at eight.
“There are many reasons I want to come to Seattle," Gspurning said in a club release. "It is a very good team that plays in many competitions and Seattle has the best fans in Major League Soccer. When I think about the task in the next year, I feel very confident to come over and have the opportunity to be the new No. 1 and have success with the Sounders. … I can't wait to come over to Seattle."
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.