Michael Gspurning will readily admit that 2013 was a difficult year.
In his first MLS season in 2012, he took the league by storm, posting the second-best goals against average in league history and leading Sounders FC to its first appearance in the Western Conference Championship. To some degree a victim of his own success, Gspurning maintained that high standard for most of the 2013 season, save for two matches late in the year that stand out in an otherwise solid campaign in net for Seattle.
“It was tougher this year. To make a statement in the league like I did last year was the first step,” Gspurning said. “To show this year the same quality again is not easy to prove and I’m proud that I did it.”
In his first five matches this season, Gspurning allowed five goals but had no wins to show for it. Then, as the offense picked up, so did Gspurning and the defense, posting four shutouts in a five-game stretch to get Seattle back on track and into the win column.
That patience and ubiquitous confidence would prove paramount for Gspurning in 2013.
After bouncing back from a forearm injury, the Austrian goalkeeper again posted four shutouts in a five-game stretch, this time winning all five matches. In the end, he didn’t match his stellar 0.73 goals against average of 2012 when he was a finalist for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, but his 10 shutouts were among the best in the league and his career 1.04 goals against average still ranks tops in club history.
The periods of struggle provided good learning experiences for the 32-year-old and the abrupt conclusion to the season with a loss in the Western Conference Semifinals leaves him hungry for more.
“You can learn at any age. If you stop trying to learn, it’s not good for you. In every year in every situation, every day, you can learn something. I’m proud that I overcame these obstacles and showed my quality,” Gspurning said. “It was a great time when we fought back and it made us very strong, but in the end we lost the focus and we didn’t finish how we wanted to and that’s bad.”
Like the team as a whole, Gspurning had highs and lows this year. But in the end, it leaves him ready for what the future holds.
“There were many obstacles this year – of course for the team and personally for me. But that’s soccer. I’m not happy that we finished in the playoffs in the first round,” Gspurning said. “I learned a lot this year and I’m already prepared for the next year.”