Andy Gruenebaum is one of the longest tenured players on the Crew roster, having suited up for Columbus since 2006. But the veteran goalkeeper known as “The Hebrew Hammer” has never been in the spotlight quite like he is now.
Gruenebaum spent most of the past six seasons battling William Hesmer for the starting spot, a struggle in which Hesmer usually prevailed. When Gruenebaum did surge ahead, injuries often struck him down.
Now the situation is reversed. With Hesmer out for at least six months after microfracture surgery on his hip, Gruenebaum is firmly entrenched as starting netminder. When the Crew (2-3) hosts Houston on Saturday, he’ll look to post his third shutout of the year rather than allow another four-goal shellacking like the one New York laid on two weeks ago.
“Obviously I don’t want to win the job through injury, but hopefully I’ve earned it,” Gruenebaum said. “If Will comes back this year, I want to make sure that it is my job and it’s his job to push me.”
The opportunity is validating Gruenebaum’s decision to re-sign with the Crew after the 2010 season when he likely could have found work elsewhere in MLS.
“Obviously with my history here, I’ve been hurt a lot. And I think that from my end it’s just more loyalty from the Crew that they’ve kept me around and had faith in me and been really patient with me,” Gruenebaum said. “That’s the biggest reason I wanted to come back and re-sign — the loyalty they’ve shown me, I wanted to repay that.”