By Bill Reno (@letsallsoccer)
Who Will Emerge in New England? - The biggest question mark within any team’s goalkeeper situation is easily New England. They appear to be leaning towards to Cody Cropper in preseason, which makes sense as Bobby Shuttleworth didn't exactly inspire confidence last season. It’s odd to think that New England was just in an MLS final a little over two years ago but they’re now trying to forget last season completely. Whoever they decide to start with, don’t be surprised if they give the second stringer a chance to win the job midseason. Cropper has looked good this preseason but a twenty-three year old goalkeeper has to be really outstanding to make it in this league.
EDIT: Since this article was written, Shuttleworth got traded!
How Will Brad Guzan Impact Atlanta, If at All? - Guzan doesn’t join ATL until the summer but we don’t know when exactly he’s coming or for how much. We could see Guzan come over for similar money as Tim Howard ($2.1 million salary) so how good does Guzan have to be in half a year to be worth the money they’ll spend on him? Most expansion teams don’t make playoffs in their first years but if Atlanta is spending closer to $2 million dollars on a goalkeeper, he better be doing more than just helping in a playoff push.
Can Tyler Deric Succeed in Houston? - Without a doubt, Deric has the talent to be a top name in the league but he has more than one hurdle in front of him for 2017. Last year was derailed due to nagging injuries and he’s only played more than eleven games in a season once. Unfortunately Deric’s involvement didn’t matter much for Houston as they finished dead last in the Western Conference. Joe Willis was a fine replacement for Deric, one that many teams would love to have as their own starter, but Deric needs to stay on the field to finally get his career rolling.
Can Zack Steffen Fit in Columbus’ System? - I wrote about Steve Clark being a good fit for Columbus back in November. With Columbus emphasis on playing out of the back, we don’t know if Steffen is up to the task or not with Columbus. There will be a lot of pressure of whoever is the goalkeeper for Columbus and while Steffen had a fantastic U20 World Cup run, the Crew will need more than penalty saves to return them to the playoffs.
When Can We Expect to See MacMath? - Probably more than you were expecting. With both Howard’s injury and the Gold Cup this summer, Zach MacMath will probably hit double digits in starts again this year. MacMath seems to have changed his tune about sitting behind Howard but at 25, he’s not a young buck anymore. It seems like Colorado has a plan for both goalkeepers but time will tell if it’s a good one.
Does a New Scenery Mean a New Sean Johnson? - Sean Johnson just didn’t work in Chicago. Part of the problem was starting Johnson too young, but no one can say Chicago didn’t give Johnson a chance to prove himself. (Johnson currently sits 13th in all-time appearances for a goalkeeper.) Hopefully a change of residence will help Johnson be the goalkeeper that NYC is hoping he’ll be.