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Five battles between the posts
by Paul Kennedy, February 3rd, 2014 8:21PM

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[NEW IN MLS: Goalkeepers] Three MLS playoff teams, champion Sporting Kansas City, Seattle and New England, must replace their starting goalies, who either retired or weren't re-signed. Two other clubs, Columbus and Philadelphia, have also brought in new goalies, creating some fierce battles between the posts for starting jobs in preseason around MLS training camps. For a look at who's new in goal.

STEVE CLARK (Columbus). Matt Lampson, a homegrown signing out of Ohio State, started 13 games over the last half of the 2013 season after Andy Gruenebaum was sidelined with a shoulder injury. After first indicating Gruenebaum might return, new coach Gregg Berhalter traded him to Sporting Kansas City and brought in Clark, who started at Honefoss in Norway the last four seasons. Clark, 27, has the edge in experience over Lampson, 24, but Berhalter could go either way.

BRAD KNIGHTON (New England). Knighton returns to the Revs, where he played three years (2007-09), after stints in Philadelphia and Vancouver and in the NASL. The job to replace the retired Matt Reis is open, and Revs coach Jay Heaps said Bobby Shuttleworth, who split time with Reis in 2013, backup Luis Shoffner and Knighton will all get a fair crack. Shuttleworth started against Malmo on Friday, while Knighton should get the start in Tuesday's scrimmage against Philadelphia.



ANDRE BLAKE (Philadelphia). For now, Zac MacMath is still Coach John Hackworth's choice in goal, but Blake wasn't taken with the No. 1 pick in the SuperDraft because he can be fill in now and then. The Jamaican is arguably the best keeper to come out of college since Brad Guzan and he'll push MacMath hard.

ANDY GRUENEBAUM (Sporting KC). The retirement of captain Jimmy Nielsen (now coaching in USL PRO) leaves a big void in the goal of the defending MLS champions, but Gruenebaum should challenge Nielsen's backup, Eric Kronberg, to whom SKC coach Peter Vermes handed the starting job in preseason despite all of five appearances in eight seasons. Gruenebaum and Kronberg go way back. They roomed at the 2006 MLS Combine, and Gruenebaum is from the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, where -- small world -- Kronberg's wife's family bought Gruenebaum's family's house.

STEFAN FREI (Seattle). The decision not to keep Michael Gspurning (who's returned to Greece at PAOK) has opened up a battle between the Swiss-born Frei and Marcus Hahnemann, still going strong two decades after turning pro out of Seattle Pacific with the A-League Sounders. Coach Sigi Schmid termed the battle an "open competition." Frei began the preseason with the edge, though there will be fitness questions about both keepers. Frei played only one game in 2012 and 2013 because of injuries, while 41-year-old Hahnemann was bothered by a hamstring injury in 2013.

MLS Goalies, Incumbents:
GP PLAYER, TEAM (COUNTRY)
201 Nick Rimando
, Real Salt Lake (USA)
116 Jon Busch
, San Jose (USA)
111 Dan Kennedy, Chivas USA (USA)
106 Tally Hall, Houston (USA)
100 Sean Johnson, Chicago (USA)
85 Bill Hamid, D.C. United (USA)
74 Zac MacMath, Philadelphia (USA)
43 Bobby Shuttleworth (New England)
42 Troy Perkins, Montreal (USA)
41 Donovan Ricketts, Portland (Jamaica)
34 Luis Robles, New York (USA)
33 Joe Bendik, Toronto FC (USA)
32 Clint Irwin, Colorado (USA)
26 Raul Fernandez, FC Dallas (Peru)
16 Matt Lampson, Columbus (USA)
13 David Ousted, Vancouver (Denmark)
9 Jaime Penedo, Los Angeles (Panama)
5 Eric Kronberg, Sporting KC (USA)
4 Marcus Hahnemann, Seattle (USA)
GP=games played with current team.


1 comment
  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: February 4, 2014 at 7:33 a.m.
    Hope Joe Cannon is keeping in shape. And on top of everything else, he can sing -- well sort of.


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