No one thought much of it when Sounders FC goalkeeper Michael Gspurning picked up a yellow card for delay late in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal win over Tigres on March 12.
Most fans didn’t notice. And even though Gspurning knew the call had been made, he didn’t realize it would count as his second yellow of the competition and therefore result in a one-game suspension.
“After the game I was thinking, ‘Hold on. How many yellow cards is a punishment?’” Gspurning said Tuesday. “The team thought that after the group stage the yellow cards were canceled and I forgot about the yellow card I got in Honduras, so I thought I’m safe for the next stage. (Coach Sigi Schmid) came to me and said, ‘Hey, you’re banned for the next game.’ I said, ‘Oh. That’s not good news.’”
In past CCL competitions — and most similar tournaments throughout the world — yellow cards awarded during the group stage are wiped clean when the knockout rounds begin.
However, when Champions League shifted this season from a six-game group stage to a four-game group stage, it also decided to carry yellow cards into the quarterfinal round.
That tweak now makes Seattle’s No. 1 goalkeeper ineligible for the first leg of the semifinal round against Santos Laguna on Tuesday at CenturyLink Field.
However, the Sounders’ frustration doesn’t end there.
“I thought the yellow was really harsh in that game because (Tigres) were subbing at the time,” Schmid said. “So Gspurning was waiting for their player to get off the field because he was exiting the field at the end line, and the referee gave (Gspurning) a yellow for not putting the ball into play. And he’s sitting there like, ‘Well, I can’t put the ball into play. Their player is still on the field, they’re subbing.’ So it was a little bit confusing issue.”
Veteran goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann will fill in for Gspurning in the first game of the home-and-away aggregate-score series.
“It’s nice to have Marcus, and it’s the reason we have him,” Schmid said. “It’s going to be a big game for him. And the team’s very confident in Marcus as well.”
Last week, Seattle announced the signing of two players who had been with the club through most of preseason camp: defender Ashani Fairclough and midfielder Phillip Lund.
Fairclough, 20, played for the University of South Florida and had been captain of the 2007-08 Jamaican U17 national team. Lund, 23, played four seasons in Denmark, most recently with FC Fyn of the second division. Both will count as internationals on the MLS roster.
Each met with the media Tuesday and offered thoughts on joining the Sounders.
“It’s amazing for me,” Lund said. “It means a lot to me. I’ll develop my play because I’m around good coaches and good players, as well. I’m going to train every day at (a) high level. So, I’m looking forward to that.”
Added Fairclough: “It’s kind of nerve-wracking playing here for your first professional team with 40,000 fans coming out every day. But it’s still a pleasure to play in front of such great passionate fans, and I’m looking forward to it.”
The Sounders are off today. They will resume training Thursday, when they are expected to be joined by forwards Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins and midfielder Mario Martinez, all back from international duty. Midfielders Shalrie Joseph (calf) and Brad Evans (calf) trained Tuesday for the second consecutive day, and Schmid said they came through well.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org/soccer