Since recording his first career shutout in a 1-0 win against the then-first-place Portland Timbers on July 7, second-year 'keeper Matt Lampson has made a strong case to be the Crew's number one with his outstanding play between the pipes over the past three months filling in for an injured Andy Gruenebaum.
Helping the Black & Gold to a 7-4-0 record in 11 matches this season, Lampson has built on each performance as his team finds itself in the middle of a playoff race and three-match winning streak. The Homegrown netminder is coming into his own as his teammates' faith in him grows.
"Not only my confidence, but the team's confidence is what really spurs me on to play the best that I can," the 24-year-old 'keeper said. "With each consecutive match, I feel much more comfortable back there and the team feels much more comfortable with me back there.
"I'm just growing with each match and hopefully doing everything I can to get the team into the playoffs."
Riding five shutouts in 2013, Lampson has become a leader on the field over the Crew's last five matches. Both in his play and communication, Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss has noticed a difference in the young goalkeeper.
"His presence in the goalmouth is better," Bliss explained. "Before he was only worried about making saves and he was not looking to direct so much traffic. Now he's making saves, directing the traffic and able to put some fires out before they start.
"That comes with experience and games. He's getting that and the wins certainly don't hurt."
Though Gruenebaum has been cleared to play following a nine-match absence from the field, Bliss seems content with the success of Lampson and the starting lineup he's utilized in the past three matches as the Black & Gold fight for a playoff berth.
"Continuity is important," Bliss said of his lineup decisions ahead of Saturday's match against Sporting Kansas City (TICKETS). "You start getting into that rhythm, it's nice. We've got other guys that are ready to play and willing to play and can do as good of a job if we go down a man for whatever reason: bad form, suspension, injury, whatever.
"I think we've got some guys ready to step up and fill some holes as well, but the continuity is nice."