SEATTLE – On a night where a goalkeeper was the star, Michael Gspurning still managed to play more of a supporting role.
But like he has all season, the Seattle Sounders netminder was perfectly effective without filling up the highlight reels with acrobatic saves the way his counterpart Nick Rimando did.
"He was solid," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. "That's the hardest thing for a goalkeeper to do, when you're not constantly under pressure to be able to then get tuned in and be able to make a save. It's a tough thing to do. I thought he did very well."
Gspurning made four saves on the night, only two of which really tested him. The first came in the 38th minute when Will Johnson got an open look from about 15 yards out. Gspurning was able to slide over and paw the ball away with his left hand.
After a fairly inactive second half, he was suddenly called into action when Alvaro Saborio got off a quick header from about six yards out. Gspurning dove to his right to preserve the shutout.
As is often the case with him, Gspurning's best moment came on a play for which he wasn't even credited a save. With the field tilting more in the Sounders' favor, RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy was able to get behind the defense on a counterstrike. But before Grabavoy could get onto Javier Morales' feed, Gspurning came well off his line to tackle the ball away.
With the series now heading to RSL, Gspurning is well aware that he'll have to be on top of his game again if the Sounders are to advance out of the Western Conference semifinals for the first time.
"it's tough with them being the favorite but we aren't afraid to go there and see what's going on," Gspurning said. "Don't write us off we are a good away team, too so it will be a fun game."