In his first four starts of 2013 in the stead of the injured Andy Gruenebaum, backup goalkeeper Matt Lampson has given the Columbus Crew three shutouts in wins over Portland, New York and Toronto, with the latter two victories earning the team their first win streak since 2012, and first consecutive shutout wins since 2011.
While Lampson says the wins have added to his confidence, the Ohio State product wasn’t afraid to display his confidence even before his recent playing time.
“I think he was really confident before those games,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “He showed a lot of maturity. These games help him grow, and he’s going to be more aggressive. The saves he’s making are good. He’s big, and he’s very confident in what he’s doing.”
For Lampson, the biggest key in recent games has been to grow in comfort with his defensive line, and continue to be the vocal leader that the team needs from its goalkeeper.
“Not just in these two games, but with each consecutive game that I play, I can feel the confidence steadily growing with my comfort with the team and the back four,” he said. “I’m becoming much more dominant of the box and my area and commanding my back line, and I think that makes a big difference.
“That’s not to say my backline didn’t have the confidence or respect in me, but with each game that they know I’m going to be solid back there, that only does good things for the whole team," he added. "So being more vocal and more commanding is what I’m really looking to do. “
The Crew back line has seen some shuffling as the season has progressed, but veteran Chad Marshall has been a stalwart at the back, and the longtime Crew talisman says that he hasn’t seen a dip in goalkeeper play since Gruenebaum’s injury.
“[Lampson] has been great. I don’t know if he had too much to do in the last game, but in the New York game he made some big saves to keep the zero,” Marshall said. “It’s great when you have a guy like Andy and he goes down, to have a keeper who can come in and maintain that level.”
For Lampson, Gruenebaum has been invaluable while injured, and the 23-year-old seemed shocked at the amount of help the veteran has given his competitor.
“It’s incredible how valuable [Gruenebaum] is. I can’t respect him enough for what he’s doing for me right now,” Lampson said. “I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to not be able to play, but still help out the guy behind you ... We watched film together today, and that type of thing just doesn’t happen. I learn so much from him, and there are so many nuances of the game he’s been incredibly helpful on, and I hope he continues to be until he’s ready.”
The team has no solid timetable for Gruenebaum’s return from a nagging shoulder injury, and in the meantime Lampson is concerned with showing the club that he can be a starting-caliber keeper.
“I’m getting much more comfortable in that starting role, and hopefully I’m doing enough to make them think next year, “ he said. “That’s ultimately my goal, to be a starter in this league. So whenever that may be, I want to be ready.”