Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids
MLS Cup Playoffs; Knockout Round
October 30, 2013, 7:30 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: KONG 6/16 (in Seattle); ROOT Sports (regionally); NBC Sports Network (nationally); KOMO2 (Spanish TV); 97.3 FM (English radio); La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish radio)
As Landon Donovan hurried up the left side to get a boot to a ball from Robbie Keane in the 25th minute of Sounders FC’s regular season finale against the LA Galaxy on Sunday, Michael Gspurning squared up the joint all-time leading scorer in MLS. Donovan took a left-footed shot under duress from defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Gspurning was up to the task, getting his outstretched gloves to the low, skipping shot for his first save of the night.
It wasn’t the type of dramatic save that will get run on highlight reels around the soccer world, but for Gspurning it was confirmation of what he and Head Coach Sigi Schmid believed all along – Gspurning’s 0.91 goals against average through his first 46 career MLS starts is much more indicative of his level of play than the nine goals he allowed in two matches on October 5 and October 9.
“It was a good feeling. The first real ball you have in a game is always important. There was a bit of relief and it was a little easier to play,” Gspurning said.
The Seattle goalkeeper went on to have four saves in Sounders FC’s 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy to finish the season with a 12-9-6 record and 1.27 goals against average.
After Schmid opted for Marcus Hahnemann in matches against the Portland Timbers and FC Dallas, the 6-foot-5 Austrian stayed late after training regularly, going back to the basics and “pushing the reset button,” as he put it. Getting back on the pitch in front of the home fans at CenturyLink Field was a big step for Gspurning.
“I felt good. It was a different situation for me the last few games and coming back now is something special,” Gspurning said. “We know every game now is special.”
Like the team as a whole, Gspurning was much-improved on Sunday, but in the end walked away disappointed with the 1-1 draw. The play on the field was encouraging, but in the end, needs to be just the slightest bit better in the playoffs, when every moment is vital to the team’s survival.
“It doesn’t matter now how you play. Just win it and go through,” he said. “We’re not worried now about how we play. We are just worried about wins.”
Kickoff for Wednesday’s playoff match is scheduled for 7:30 pm PT, with local television coverage on KONG 6/16, regional coverage on ROOT Sports and a national broadcast on NBC Sports. Playoff tickets are available at www.SoundersFC.com or by calling 800-745-3000.