KANSAS CITY, Kansas -- Sporting Kansas City has acquired goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum from the Columbus Crew in exchange for Sporting KC’s second round pick in the 2016 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, the club announced on Monday.
In eight seasons with the Crew, Gruenebaum, 30, made 82 MLS appearances (including playoffs) and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player in 2012. This season, he conceded the second fewest goals (28) among goalkeepers with a minimum of 15 games played.
“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 head coach Peter Vermes said. “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, a native of nearby Overland Park, Kansas, started all six of Columbus’ games in the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League group stage.
“I could not be more excited to come back home and play in front of family and friends,” Gruenebaum said. “The ownership, coaching staff, players and fans associated with Sporting KC are first class, and I look forward to working with two amazing goalkeepers to help win another championship. I would like to thank Peter and the rest of the organization for giving me this opportunity.”
Sporting Kansas City, which will face Mexico’s Cruz Azul in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals next year, is looking to solidify the goalkeeping position following Jimmy Nielsen’s retirement. The 36-year-old retired stepped away after winning the 2013 MLS Cup title on December 7.
The transaction for Gruenebaum is Sporting’s second significant move in less than a week. It acquired midfielder Sal Zizzo, 26, from the Portland Timbers in exchange for allocation money on December 13.
Zizzo, who began his professional career with Germany’s Hannover 96, has made one appearance for the United States and has represented the country extensively at the Under-18, Under-20 and Under-23 levels. He started all five of the U.S. matches at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada and helped the U.S. Under-23's qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympics.