Monday, December 16, 2013

Sporting KC Acquire KC Native Gruenebaum from Columbus

Sporting Kansas City made a move to attempt to fill their hole at goalkeeper today trading with the Columbus Crew to bring in Kansas City native, Andy Gruenebaum. In return KC sends a second round pick in the 2016 Superdraft to Columbus.

A move of some kind was inevitable for Gruenebaum, as the Crew today announced they'd traded for Steve Clark from Seattle. That gave the Crew five goalkeepers on their roster, including the out of contract Gruenebaum.

Gruenebaum made 70 league appearances for the Crew over his eight year career, the last two years he'd been the Crew's starting goalkeeper after Will Hesmer went down injured. His time this year though was cut short due to shoulder injuries. While he was injured, Matt Lampson took over and did well in net. With Gruenebaum out of contract he became expendable. That said, KC getting a starter quality keeper, even if he's out of contract, for a second round pick years down the road is a nice piece of business for Sporting.

Gruenebaum will come in and compete with Eric Kronberg and Jon Kempin for the starting spot in 2014. While Gruenebaum has to be considered the favorite to win the spot, you have to like the idea of the competition. Force someone to prove that they are the better keeper. If Gruenebaum can't prove it, then KC will go into the season with Kronberg, Kempin, or whoever confident after winning the battle. In the end, whoever wins the competition, I expect one of Gruenebaum and Kronberg to not be in KC next year. I can't see both keepers staying in KC if they lose the starting spot. And I think it's time for Kempin to start to develop as the backup.


Nathan Martin said...

I know to some this is blasphemous: the added speed off the line from either Kronberg or Gruenebaum will noticeably improve SKC's defense.

The winner of this position battle will be an upgrade from Jimmy who was a good shot stopper, but also allowed more shots because his lack of speed allowed the opponent to get to balls that will be preventatively gobbled up by either of these two.

aletheist said...

Nathan, stats say otherwise. SKC allowed the fewest shots in the league, and Nielsen's organization of the defense was likely a major reason. This will be a big adjustment for the team as a whole, although Gruenebaum has a reputation as a better shot-stopper. Not sure about Kronberg.

Nathan Martin said...

The stats do not say otherwise. You are clearly confusing correlation with causation.

SKC allowed the fewest shots because they won possession +3 yards higher up the field than anyone else.

The "front 5" winning tackles before the ball is 40 yards from goal has nothing to Nielsen's organizational skills.

There were at least a dozen instances where a ball was passed into the gap between the GK & the backline. In many of those instances a quicker 'keeper gets to the ball before the opponent: Jimmy wouldn't even attempt it and instead position himself to stop the shot.

Further, Jimmy often failed to "command his box" on set pieces, again, due to his lack of speed, he'd stay at home to stop the shot: twice against RSL he came out further than he normally does and was punished once and nearly the other time.

It will be noticeable.