The Fire’s decision to replace former starting goalkeeper Jon Busch with Andrew Dykstra only a week before Saturday’s season opener blindsided many – Dykstra included.
The team waived Busch on Monday after three seasons with the club, the last two spent as the unquestionable No.1 goalkeeper in town.
“It was a shock,” Dykstra said of the club’s decision on Busch, who Dykstra called his mentor. “The news that I was starting was nice, and then the next day I found out he was gone, and that just kind of took the wind out of my sails a little bit emotionally.”
“But that’s the way it is and that’s the business I suppose.”
Replacing Busch – who was the MLS goalkeeper of the year only two seasons ago – will admittedly be a tough job for the 24-year-old Dykstra. But it’s one he’s confident he can handle.
“I played in the [friendly against] Club America last year when we sold out the crowd and did well,” Dykstra said over the phone Wednesday afternoon. “I played Houston last week – who I would consider one of the better teams in the league based on last year’s performance – and I did well, so I proved to myself, I proved to the coaches, and I proved to my teammates that this isn’t an issue.”
“I can come in and step in and do my job so I don’t have a lot of concerns. I believe in what I’m doing.”
Dykstra, who at 6-foot-4 is a much bigger presence in net than the 5-foot-10 Busch, has been pleased with how his teammates have responded to his promotion.
“There have been a couple of guys that have come to me on the side and patted me on the back, shook my hand, and said ‘job well done, you’ve earned it,” Dykstra said. “I haven’t had any real negative feedback, but I wouldn’t expect that anyway. This is a group of very classy professionals, and whether they like or not this is what it is and what’s going on with things from here.
With only three days to go before he takes the field as the Fire’s starting keeper, Dykstra is focused on preparing for New York and making sure he keeps things simple.
“I’m ready to go,” Dykstra said. “I’m not thinking much more beyond what I have to do and the tasks that are involved in my position. I’m trying to make it very simple.”