[MLS 2014 COUNTDOWN] At least four MLS teams will have new starting goalkeepers in 2014. Seattle, which last week unloaded Michael Gspurning and acquired Stefan Frei from Toronto FC, was again in the middle of the wheeling and dealing. The Sounders signed American keeper Steve Clark from Norwegian club Honefoss and dealt him to Columbus, which in turn sent Andy Gruenebaum to Sporting Kansas City, which was looking for a keeper to replace retired Jimmy Nielsen.
Gruenebaum, acquired from the Crew in exchange for Sporting KC's second-round pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, hails from nearby Overland Park, where he grew up with Sporting KC's U.S. international defender, Matt Besler.
"I could not be more excited to come back home and play in front of family and friends," Gruenebaum said. "The ownership, coaching staff, players and fans associated with Sporting KC are first class, and I look forward to working with two amazing goalkeepers [Eric Kronberg and Jon Kempin] to help win another championship."
Clark has played the last four seasons with Honefoss, currently in Norway’s Tippeligaen, the country’s top-flight division, where he played three of four seasons.
“Steve is a player who has risen through the ranks of Norwegian football and has established himself as a top goalkeeper abroad,” said Crew sporting director and head coach Gregg Berhalter. “He was all-league in Norway and has enjoyed three consecutive strong seasons. Steve has presence, good reflexes and is extremely good in one-on-one situations, and he brings intensity to the goalkeeping position.”
Seattle had a discovery claim for Clark, necessitating the Crew send the Sounders a fourth-round SuperDraft pick in 2015 to pick up his rights.
Last week, New England acquired Brad Knighton to give Bobby Shuttleworth competition for the full-time job vacated by the retiring Matt Reis, who will become the goalkeeping coach at the Galaxy.
MLS Goalies on the Move:
Joe Cannon (Vancouver - option declined)
Steward Ceus (Colorado - option declined)
Steve Clark (Seattle - traded to Columbus)
Stefan Frei(Toronto FC - traded to Seattle)
Michael Gspurning (Seattle - option declined)
Andy Gruenebaum(Columbus - traded to Sporting KC)
Kevin Hartman (New York - retired)
Brad Knighton (Vancouver - traded to New England)
Patrick McLain (Chivas - option declined)
Evan Newton (San Jose - option declined)
Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting KC - retired)
Oka Nikolov (Philadelphia - waived)
Matt Reis (New England - retired)
Josh Saunders (Real Salt Lake - out of contract)
Luis Soffner (New England - option declined)
Brad Stuver (Pool Keeper - picked by Columbus in Waiver Draft)
Simon Thomas (Vancouver - option declined)
Paolo Tornaghi (Chicago - waived)
Other moves ...
The Sounders have moved quickly to line their ducks for the 2014 season. In their latest move, they re-signed 33-year-old Costa Rican defender Leo Gonzalez, was voted the club's Defender of the Year by his teammates. He is one of seven current Sounders players who has been with the club since its inaugural season.
CARIBBEAN COMBINE.Twenty-four players representing 16 nations will take part in the first Caribbean Combine Jan. 2-4 in St. John’s, Antigua. MLS is organizing the three-day event in partnership with the Caribbean Football Union to showcase players to earn an invitation to the adidas MLS Player Combine Jan. 10-14 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The players, who range in age from 18-24, include Quinton Griffith (Antigua & Barbuda), who plays for USL PRO's Charleston Battery, former West Florida (NCAA Division II) keeper Ramon Sealy(Cayman Islands) and Luckner Horat, who played for Haiti against the USA in 2013 Under-20 World Cup qualifying and had a tryout with the Columbus Crew in the fall.
Kemar Lawrence, who was on the bench for Jamaica's World Cup qualifier against the USA in October, plays for of Jamaican league leader Harbour View, while Kendell Allen, like most players for Montserrat, plays in the depths of English soccer, for the Southern League's Aylesbury United.
2014 Caribbean Combine Invitees:
GK Ramon Sealy(Cayman Islands/Bodden Town)
GK Jamal Francis (Saint Kitts & Nevis/S L Horsford St. Pauls)
D Leroy Oehlers (Aruba/Bussums FC)
D Malcolm Joseph (Dominica/More Bombers)
D Jean Ismael Voltaire (Haiti/Don Bosco)
D Luckner Horat (Haiti/L'Aigle Nour)
D Kendell Allen (Montserrat/Aylesbury United)
D Miguel Danny Darson (Suriname/Transvaal)
D Kavon Troy Ceasar(British Virgin Islands/Ballstarz FC)
D/M Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica/Harbour View)
M Drewonde Bascome(Bermuda/Devonshire Cougars)
M Delbert Graham (Dominica/Scotia Bank Bath Estate)
M Steven Davidas (Guadeloupe/JS Vieux Habitants)
M Joseph Marrero (Puerto Rico/Academia Quintana)
M Jose Sandoval (Puerto Rico/Bayamo FC)
M Eden Charles(Saint Lucia/Northern United All Stars)
M/D Damian Bailey (Anguilla/no club)
M/D Quinton Griffith (Antigua & Barbuda/Charleston Battery)
M/F Vladimir Pascal (Guadeloupe/AS Dragon)
M/F Samuel Soto (Puerto Rico/Bayamon FC)
F Stefan Smith (Antigua & Barbuda/Old Road FC)
F/D Quinton Christina (Curacao/CRKSV Jong Holland)
F/M Kimaree Rogers (Saint Kitts & Nevis/Rams Village Superstars)
F/M Stefano Rijssel(Suriname/W Connection)