Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake
September 13, 2013, 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Network; 97.3 FM; La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)
By nature, goalkeepers are cut from a different cloth than any other position in the game of soccer.
When Sounders FC meets Real Salt Lake, it proves that within that cloth, there are many different molds for goalkeepers, too, as Seattle’s Michael Gspurning and RSL’s Nick Rimando have vastly different styles but have been among the top goalkeepers in the league throughout their MLS careers.
“Every goalkeeper brings his own personality into it,” said Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid, who recruited Rimando to UCLA. “Mike is maybe a little quieter at times in terms of appearing calmer. Nick is a little more animated and agitated. Not in a bad way – in a way that’s just motivating.”
Those traits are far from the only things separating the two goalkeepers though.
Gspurning is a towering presence at 6-foot-5 and 209 pounds, eclipsing the goal with his frame. His size helps him cover the net, but also gives him the ability to sky for crosses, cutting off scoring chances before they even materialize.
In 43 career MLS matches, the Austrian shotstopper has 17 shutouts and a 0.90 goals against average for the top mark in MLS history for goalkeepers with over 40 appearances. This season, he has 22 starts, 11 wins, nine shutouts and a 1.07 goals against average.
In complete contrast to the intimidating stature of Gspurning, Rimando is listed at 5-foot-9 and 184 pounds and uses different methods to keep the ball out of the net, but has had similar results.
In the same number of starts this season, Rimando has 12 wins, eight shutouts and a 1.00 goals against average, bringing his career numbers to 341 starts, 107 shutouts and a 1.19 goals against average. He also has two MLS Cup titles to his credit, one in 2004 with DC United and 2009 with Real Salt Lake, when he was MLS Cup MVP after a shootout win at CenturyLink Field over the LA Galaxy.
“His feet are very good. They’re better than most goalkeepers. He’s very comfortable playing that way,” Schmid said of Rimando. “Michael has an advantage in his size – coming for crosses and dealing with those kinds of things. They’re both very good in their own way.”
On the field, they have been the greatest of foes. In five meetings in 2012, they combined to allow only two goals. This year, Rimando has gotten the better of Seattle in their two previous matches at Rio Tinto Stadium, winning 2-1 on March 30 and 2-0 on June 22.
Facing a team with a goalkeeper like Rimando provides a boost for Gspurning, particularly when the opponent is making difficult saves like Rimando has against Seattle.
“It’s great to have a duel like this. If the other goalkeeper is doing well, it maybe pushes you one or two-percent more,” Gspurning said.