Fire technical director Frank Klopas on Tuesday denied that veteran goalkeeper Jon Busch was a casualty of cost-cutting of the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and added that the team had long intended in promoting backup Andrew Dykstra to the top spot before the season opener.
The Fire waived Busch on Monday, less than a week before the club opens the season on the road against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night. Dykstra did not appear in an MLS regular season game during his rookie season in 2009 but still managed to beat out Busch, who appeared in all 30 games for the Fire each of the past two seasons.
“You go into preseason, there are no guarantees,” Klopas said. “Obviously we felt that Andrew was going to be our No. 1 goalkeeper going in, and this was something that was discussed with Jon by our coaching staff. And I support that decision 100 percent. Those decisions don’t come in one day – it takes a while to make a decision like that. We felt like it was time to move in a new direction.”
Busch was named the 2008 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and matched the Fire’s single-season franchise record each of the past two seasons with 10 shutouts.
Busch told MLSsoccer.com on Monday that new Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos never indicated that the 33 year-old veteran had lost his spot until last Friday, when the coach spoke with Busch after a workout session and said Dykstra would start the season opener.
Klopas and Busch then met on Sunday evening, when Busch was informed he would be traded or waived outright if the team could find no potential suitors. He was waved Monday evening.
Dykstra started and played all 90 minutes of the Fire’s preseason 1-1 draw against Houston on March 16, and Klopas said Dykstra was set to start a friendly against Notre Dame on Saturday before the match was cancelled due to bad weather.
Klopas denied that the Fire intend to bring in another goalkeeper this season, including rumored replacement and El Salvador national team goalkeeper Miguel Montes. Montes played for de los Cobos with the El Salvador national team during the 2008-09 World Cup qualifying matches and currently plays for C.D. Aguila in Mexico.
He also denied that this was a cost-cutting move or that the team had concerns about picking up Busch’s contract, which would be guaranteed under the new CBA that was agreed upon last Saturday.
“This decision was not made because we’re bringing someone else in. That’s inaccurate,” Klopas said. “This decision was not made because of the players’ union came to an agreement on the CBA. This decision was made over the course of time in preseason.”
“Andrew’s been around. He’s 24 and he’s confident,” Klopas added. “We have confidence in Andrew and we think he’s ready to come in and start. Any rumors that we want another goalkeeper are ridiculous.”
Dykstra officially joined the Fire as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia Commonwealth in June 2009, and eventually beat out former SuperDraft pick Nick Noble to earn the club’s backup spot. He did not appear in any regular season games last season, but did crack the lineup in a U.S. Open Cup third round match against the Wilmington Hammerheads.
The Fire also drafted rookie Sean Johnson out of Central Florida in the fourth round of the SuperDraft in January. He’s expected to serve as Dykstra’s backup.
Busch said Monday he’s hopeful he’ll find a spot in MLS, but also has his sights set on the USL and even clubs in Europe.
“This was not an easy decision,” Klopas said. “But we feel very good, Carlos and myself, about the process. We see the guys in training every day and we see if they’re ready or not.”