Former UK Keeper Andy Gruenebaum Steps into Spotlight

June 17, 2009 Feature Story on Gruenebaum: Wildcat World Champion

COLUMBUS, Ohio. -- Former Kentucky standout goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum is off to an excellent start to the 2009 season for the defending Major League Soccer Champion Columbus Crew, posting an unbeaten record in eight starts.

Gruenebaum, a native of Overland Park, Kan., has made eight starts in goal for the Crew, posting a 4-0-4 record and a 1.12 goals-against average. A UK letter winner from 2002-2005, Gruenebaum has broken into the starting lineup midway through the season after starter Will Hesmer went down with an injury five games deep into 2009. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder, has saved 16 shots while facing 27, notching one clean sheet.

"I hated to become the starter due to injury," Gruenebaum said in an interview with Kyle McCarthy of "I wanted to win it out right and have a goalkeeper competition. Will had a phenomenal year last year and he's a phenomenal goalkeeper. I want him to get healthy so we can get the tandem back. It's always fun being successful (with the Crew), but at the same time, when you actually get to play, step in and contribute, it's that much more rewarding."

Gruenebaum's positive contribution to the Crew comes just a year after he joined Columbus in capturing the MLS Cup, becoming one of six former UK student athletes to win professional championships in 2008.

A 2005 first-team All-Conference USA selection at UK, Gruenebaum logged every second in goal during his senior season, posting a 0.91 goals-against average with 21 shutouts in 66 career games. Gruenebaum was selected by the Crew with the third overall pick of the first round in the 2006 MLS Supplemental Draft.

"When coach (Ian) Collins recruited me to come to UK the whole thing was that they told me they would put me in a situation to go play professionally," Gruenebaum said during an interview with following the 2008 Columbus Crew championship season. "Playing for UK was on the best experiences I ever had. Playing soccer, the school and the friends I made will be something I will never forget or would ever trade for another school. We played the most competitive teams in the nation and we competed in every game. It really prepared for the next level. We had a blue-collar mentality and we didn't take anything for granted. Coach Collins was very adamant about teaching this to the guys. I think UK was a launching pad for my professional career. It was the message that was conveyed to me when I came here and it came true."