After several months of speculation, the Seattle Sounders have announced that goalkeeper Michael Gspurning has been signed to a multi-year deal by the club. Gspurning currently plays for Superleague Greece club Skoda Xanthi F.C. Gspurning turned down a contract extension over the summer and turned down a chance to sign for Greek giants Panathinaikos, stating that his desire for a change of scenery was a big reason for his decision to leave. Gspurning has played for Skoda for five years, only falling from first choice this season due to his refusal to sign an extension.
Gspurning was in town in July for the team's CONCACAF Champions League qualifier against San Francisco and came away impressed with the team, the fans and the city. There's no word on the length or terms of the contract, but Gspurning has stated that he plans to be in Seattle for several years, assuming he is a good fit for the team. Given that he played in the highly transient Greek league for five seasons, there's little reason not to take him at his word. At a well-built 6'5" the Sounders new keeper cuts an imposing figure and at the age of 30 is still well within the window of the typical goalkeeper's later and longer prime.
No matter the player, following in Kasey Keller's footsteps is going to be a very difficult task. The level of scrutiny will be high and the comparisons inevitable, so the Sounders needed to make sure they got this one right. Though it's far too early to know whether that's the case, the early signs are positive. Gspurning has the resume of a top-quality MLS keeper and his attitude seems top-notch and his desire to be in Seattle genuine. The true test will come on the field, but for now there are many reasons to feel positive. Losing Keller was always going to be difficult, but adding Gspurning may well make it a little bit easier.