It was paperwork, not any lingering effects from the broken left hand that sidelined him for more than two months, that kept Eric Kronberg from making his planned return to goalkeeping duties for Sporting Kansas City.
Kronberg, who has not played since June 27, had been expected to start Thursday night's CONCACAF Champions League match against Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa. Instead, Andy Gruenebaum was in goal for Sporting's 3-1 victory, because Kronberg's eligibility papers with CONCACAF were not filed in time.
A club representative said Thursday that Kronberg will be eligible for Tuesday's home CCL match against Nicaraguan side Real Esteli.
After the match, Gruenebaum – who has made 10 starts across all competitions since Kronberg's injury – joked that he was the one behind the paperwork glitch.
“I saw the paperwork for Krony, and I ripped it up,” he said. “So he wasn't registered with CONCACAF, and it worked out for me. But I apologize to everyone, including my friend Kronberg.”
Joking aside, every minute on the pitch does help Gruenebaum – who was brought in from Columbus in the offseason knowing that Kronberg would be the new No. 1 after Jimmy Nielsen's retirement – make his case for continued starts down the regular-season stretch.
“I'm not worried about that, about whether or not it's making a case,” he said. “I just want to go out and get a win with the team and help make sure that we get into that habit, especially down this important stretch of games. Whether it's CONCACAF or MLS, it's important that we take care of business.”
If Kronberg does start against Esteli, he would be the third keeper used by Sporting in as many group-stage matches this year. Homegrown keeper Jon Kempin started Sporting's opener, a 1-1 draw in Nicaragua last month, while Gruenebaum was out with a shoulder strain.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.