Monday, December 16, 2013

Sporting Kansas City trades for native son Andy Gruenebaum, a likely contender for Jimmy Nielsen's replacement

Posted By on Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 4:28 PM


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The Hebrew Hammer has come home.

Sporting Kansas City traded for Overland Park native and Blue Valley North High School standout goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. The 30-year-old who comes to Sporting Kansas City via trade with the Columbus Crew is likely the front-runner to replace Jimmy Nielsen, who announced his retirement last week after four years in Kansas City in which he rarely missed a game.

Gruenebaum, nicknamed the "Hebrew Hammer," was one of Major League Soccer's best goalkeepers in 2012 for a mediocre Columbus team. The last season wasn't as good for Gruenebaum, who battled persistent injuries in another down year for Columbus, which missed the playoffs.

Sporting Kansas City gives up only a second-round draft pick in 2016 for Gruenebaum's services. The move should also free up money for Sporting Kansas City. Gruenebaum's guaranteed 2013 salary was $93,887, according to the MLS Players Union; Nielsen's was $220,000.

Sporting Kansas City will probably open the 2014 training camp with three players trying to get the starting goalkeeper position. Gruenebaum will probably get it. The team in 2006 drafted goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, who is also 30 years old but has barely played meaningful MLS action in seven years. Also on the squad is 20-year-old Jon Kempin, who is believed to have a bright future but probably isn't ready yet for prime time.

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