OBETZ, Ohio – Matt Lampson knows he’s just a tweak of a muscle or, as was almost the case last Saturday, a referee’s decision away from being the Crew’s starting goalkeeper.
Still, the Homegrown product from Ohio State didn’t sound awed by the prospect on Thursday when talking about the possibility of stepping between the posts.
Lampson has moved to the backup spot behind Andy Gruenebaum because incumbent William Hesmer has been hampered by a right ankle sprain since the start of camp in January. Hesmer saw a specialist on Thursday and could be out for an extended period.
“I’m just waiting for my chance,” Lampson told MLSsoccer.com. “I’m confident enough in myself. I think I’ve progressed enough. I’m ready should that opportunity ever arise.”
His first chance nearly came in the 83rd minute against New York when Gruenebaum slipped while fielding the ball and touched it outside the penalty area. The official issued a yellow card for a hand ball instead of sending him off.
“I wasn’t concerned about getting a red,” Gruenebaum. “I wanted to make Matt a little nervous. I wanted to get him his first appearance if possible.”
Because the Crew were out of substitutes in the 4-1 loss, Lampson would have made his debut Saturday at Philadelphia. Instead, he will fill the role Gruenebaum has done for many years while Hesmer played the majority of games.
“The main thing is to prepare like you’re No. 1,” Gruenebaum said. “Stay in tune with the game, warm up like you’re going to play and then visualize yourself making plays. It’s easy to get caught up in the bench dilly-dallying around watching.”
Lampson got valuable minutes in the preseason in Hesmer’s in absence and played the second half of the Reserve League match on March 24 against Montreal before going the distance last week vs. the Red Bulls reserves.
“As a goalkeeper, you need game experience more than anything else,” Lampson said. “Training only gets you so far. Getting those games is a massive stride in my development. They aren’t necessarily up to the competitiveness or game speed of the real game but that’s as close as I’m going to get until I get in there.”
He’s also getting advice from the veteran Gruenebaum – even if he doesn’t want it.
“He needs to listen to me more,” Gruenebaum joked. “There’s little life lessons in training that I try. Nuggets of information I try to give him.”
Lampson playfully fired back, “Andy loves to act like he’s my life coach. Now that being said, for every great piece of information he gives me, there’s about five things that he has no clue what he’s talking about.”
The one thing they agreed upon is that Gruenebaum warned Lampson not to wear a particular pair of socks in practice because they would cause his feet to slip in his shoes. He wore them and allowed a goal after slipping.
“I told him he was right and I never should have said that because now he always thinks he’s right,” Lampson said, before quipping, “It was a disaster from then on.”