Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
Sporting Kansas City’s primary offseason need was to replace retiring goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. In just over one week, they’ve solved that problem.
Overland Park, Kan. native Andy Gruenebaum was traded today by the Columbus Crew to his hometown club, Sporting Kansas City, with a second round pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft going to Columbus in return. The Crew have been busy reshaping their squad and the veteran Gruenebaum was suddenly outside of head coach Gregg Berhalter’s plans.
“Andy is a very capable goalkeeper, someone who has been successful in Major League Soccer and has had a lot of games in the league,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said in a statement. “He is a great addition to our team and a complement to our goalkeepers. We needed someone with a lot of experience because we’re in multiple major competitions in 2014.”
Gruenebaum missed 13 games this season with the Crew after suffering a shoulder injury, only returning from an extended absence in the final game of the year. Sporting KC meanwhile are acquiring an experienced goalkeeper to battle Eric Kronberg during preseason for the starting spot.
Here are some more stories from around MLS:
YALLOP SEARCHING FOR FOREIGN TARGETS ON EUROPEAN SCOUTING TRIP
Frank Yallop’s trip to Europe this week isn’t just for an offseason vacation.
The new Chicago Fire head coach is heading overseas to work and he plans to use his contacts abroad as well as the club’s partners to search for talent to add to the squad ahead of the 2014 MLS season.
“I’ll be going to a number of clubs,” Yallop told Chicago-Fire.com. “Namely Tottenham and Norwich – where there are people I know well and I’m just looking at young players that we’d have the possibility of signing or getting on loan. I’m going to [Fire team for the World Partner] Atletico Madrid as well and just looking for players.
“I’ve got scouts I’ve spoken to already going to watch games and we’ll be getting a good feel of what the market is like. I’ll bounce around as much as I can and really get after it, seeing as much soccer as I can in two weeks.”
Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson just completed a two-week training stint at Norwich while the club have sent players to Atletico Madrid in the past two years for offseason training.
SOUNDERS INK GONZALEZ TO NEW CONTRACT
The Seattle Sounders’ busy offseason continued today when they inked a veteran defender to a new contract.
The club announced that they’ve signed Leo Gonzalez to a new deal, keeping the man voted by fans as Defender of the Year in Seattle for next season. Per league and team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“Leo had an outstanding season in 2013, and we are happy to reward him with a new contract for the 2014 season,” owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer said in a statement.
Gonzalez, one of seven players on the Sounders roster to have stayed with the team since they joined MLS in 2009, started 33 of his club’s 42 matches in all competitions during the 2013 season, and was a starter in 14 of the Sounders’ 15 MLS victories. The Costa Rican international has started 98 times in MLS play for the Sounders, fifth-best in club history.
CREW TRADE FOR GOALKEEPER CLARK
A former Norwegian First Division Goalkeeper of the Year could receive his first chance to start for an MLS team next season.
Just minutes before announcing that they had traded Andy Gruenebaum to Sporting KC, the Crew announced that they had acquired goalkeeper Steve Clark in a sign and trade deal from the Seattle Sounders in exchange for a fourth-round selection in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. Clark joins the Crew from Honefoss BK, in Norway’s Tippeligaen, where he spent four seasons.
“Steve is a player that has risen through the ranks of Norwegian football and has established himself as a top goalkeeper abroad,” Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said in a statement. “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.”
Clark compiled a record of 30-32-32 with a 1.34 goals against average and 26 shutouts. He was named Goalkeeper of the Year in the top division in 2012.
What do you think of these developments? Think Gruenebaum can play up to Nielsen’s standards next season? Do you expect Yallop to be able to sign any Europeans this offseason? Like the Gonzalez signing?
Share your thoughts below.