Sounders decline Michael Gspurning's option, GK likely won't return in 2014

Steve Dykes

Austrian would have been among the highest paid goalkeepers in the league if his option had been exercised.

Michael Gspurning may have played his last game with the Seattle Sounders, who revealed on Monday that they had declined their option on the 32-year-old goalkeeper.

Gspurning was likely due a raise on his reported salary of $285,000 this year, which would have kept him among the top two or three paid goalkeepers in MLS. With just two years in MLS, Gspurning lacks enough experience to be made available in Friday's Re-Entry Draft and will likely pursue options overseas. Prior to joining the Sounders, he had played 11 seasons in Europe, mostly in Austria and Greece.

While this move might not come as a complete shock -- during his final two months with the team, Gspurning allowed 13 goals in five games, was forced to sit out another with on a red-card suspension and was benched twice -- it's still a bit jarring. In two years with the Sounders, Gspurning actually posted a better goals against average (1.02), a higher shutout percentage (36 percent) and better record (24-13-11) than predecessor Kasey Keller. Gspurning also went 3-1-1 in the playoffs, as compared to Keller who went 1-4-1. Gspurning's first year with the Sounders will go down in history as one of the best statistical seasons in MLS history, even though he finished second in Goalkeeper of the Year voting to Jimmy Nielsen.

For all Gspurning achieved, though, it would appear that his price tag just proved to be too high for what the Sounders wanted to spend on him. With most teams have starting goalkeepers making about half of what Gspurning was scheduled to make, the Sounders seem to have felt that money was better spent elsewhere on a roster that is likely to undergo a significant makeover.

On a team facing some serious salary cap constraints -- and clearly hoping to generate significant flexibility -- the decision is at least understandable. If anything, this is just another example of how the league's salary structure can be particularly frustrating.

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