Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid has had the luxury of two high-level, veteran goalkeepers on his roster all season. Now, with two games to go in the regular season, he is faced with the decision to start Michael Gspurning or Marcus Hahnemann as Seattle aims to clinch the club’s fifth consecutive playoff berth on Saturday at Dallas.
If he knows which way he is leaning in that dilemma, he didn’t give any indication after a 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers on Sunday, when Hahnemann made his first start since August 10.
“We’ll see,” Schmid said, simply, after the match.
Hahnemann has been a consistent shot-stopper and a calming veteran presence since his arrival in Sounders camp last season. In three MLS starts this season, he has a 0.67 goals against average with two wins to his credit while filling in for an injured Gspurning in August.
"Our last two games obviously we hadn’t maybe had as much heart as we wanted, we kind of huffed and puffed, for a little bit in the games and it wasn’t quite there today," said Hahnemann of the 1-0 result." I thought we battled all the way to the very last minute with ten men and hit the bar twice. With a little more luck, we could have taken the lead in the game.:
In all competitions since joining the Sounders, the 41-year-old Hahnemann has allowed five goals in six matches, including two matches in the CONCACAF Champions League and one in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
"You know, obviously frustrating especially at the end of the game when they put the standings up on the scoreboard and see Portland goes in front of us," he continued. "A lot of fans came down here and we disappointed in ourselves and everyone’s gutted with the result."
All season he had been playing behind Gspurning, who had a 1.02 goals against average this season before allowing nine goals in two matches last week against the Colorado Rapids and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The change was made, Schmid explained, to allow Gspurning a break. It’s a tactic Schmid has used before with players, showing not a lack in confidence but just an opportunity for perspective.
“We just felt with Michael it was a situation that you have to step back and view it from the outside,” Schmid said.
Seattle’s defensive effort was inarguably better on Sunday than in the previous two matches against Colorado and Vancouver. Whereas Gspurning was faced with multiple 1v1 situations in those two matches, Hahnemann was only left with one clear-cut run-out by Portland. In that instance, he met the challenge of Darlington Nagbe at the edge of the box and allowed Osvaldo Alonso to recover in time to halt any scoring efforts on the play.
Hahnemann made two saves on three Portland shots in the match, the only goal coming after a missed clearance landed at the feet of Kalif Alhassan and he rocketed it into the low left corner.
“I thought Marcus did well,” Schmid said.
Seattle will meet FC Dallas on Saturday before finishing the season against the LA Galaxy in the regular season finale at CenturyLink Field on October 27.