It’s hard not to have a love-hate relationship with the MLS offseason. On one hand, we get to talk about goalkeepers more often. (A massive plus for anyone.) Typically the narrative wraps up a year-long performance in one or two sentences - “Goalkeeper X will look to build off of last year’s success by relying on his shot stopping and distribution skills.” - but that’s hardly a problem considering the larger headache that resurfaces this time of year. Every January we hear about an unnamed MLS team being linked to a foreign goalkeeper. We just had one happen last week, with a “lucrative offer” apparently on the table for a German goalkeeper.Read More
Bill Hamid is returning to MLS and the reception has been largely positive, which is… odd. Sure, it’s nice that he’ll be getting consistent field time again, but there are some hard truths that are being glossed over in favor of a positive story. While the level of zeal towards an American’s return to MLS is nice (“Well maybe he learned a lot while sitting on the bench for a year and is now actually better!”) we would do well to admit the negatives that have come along with the situation. Grab a comforting hand because we’re going to take off those rose colored glasses and see what lessons there are to learn from all of this.
1. Hamid’s time in Europe has been an unmitigated failure - There’s this perception that a player going to Europe will automatically be handed a bottle of Michael Jordan’s Secret Stuff. Unfortunately Hamid’s experience was far from what people hoped and the last year was anything but a positive step in his career. In the last twelve months, Hamid played as many times for the United States as he did for FC Midtjylland. (FC Midtjylland is typically known for playing many more games than the United States in a calendar year.) In his time with Midtjylland, he played three times with the first team, conceding seven goals in the games. The whole point of going to Europe was to elevate his game and yet he’s sat the bench time-and-time again. Hamid even struggled to get games with the reserve team, where nineteen year old Oliver Ottesen received twice as many games as him.Read More
Typically MLS’s spring season is marred by goalkeepers shaking off rust from an extended offseason, but this season fans have witnessed a breath of fresh air when it comes to goalkeeping. First, we've had a number of young goalkeepers far exceed expectations, despite not even being starters last year. Tyler Miller, Matt Turner, and Richard Sanchez were all sitting a bench somewhere last year but have shown the public (and previous employers) why they are worth putting in goal. Luis Robles and Alex Bono have done well in the Champions League, while Sean Johnson and Jimmy Maurer are seeing some resurgence in their careers. It hasn't been all daisies and roses, but compared to previous years, it’s been a blast seeing goalkeepers win games instead of costing their teams points.Read More
It’s that time of year again. Every October excitement fills the air over fans and media answering the question “who was the best goalkeeper in MLS this year?” Let no fanbase’s optimism come into question, as just about each one thinks their team has one of the best goalkeepers in the league. But the award is a true test only the most recent meritocracy. It forgets the past and rewards the present. To put it more simply, if the MLS GOTY award had a muppet doppelganger, without question it would be the jolly Ghost of Christmas Present from the Muppet Christmas Carol. A goalkeeper could have a constant howler in 2016 but be redeemed through grit and hard work in 2017. A young goalkeeper could be thrust into the limelight and propel their career forward. An aging veteran could finally receive the recognition they've worked so hard for. There are too many fantastic narratives to come to fruition and only one can actualize.Read More
The latest drama to break in the American goalkeeping scene was centered squarely on Jesse Gonzalez. After a will-he-won’t-he back and forth that is only rivaled by Pam Beesly and Jim Halpert, Gonzalez has officially tied to the US Men’s National Team. The lovestory dates back to 2015, when he first played for Mexico’s U20s, then received an invite to a USMNT camp, only to drop out of the camp, admitting he was leaning towards Mexico, then ultimately switching to the US last month for his final decision.
It’s been a whirlwind for Gonzalez over the last two years but chances are he isn’t going to be competing for the starting spot until after the 2018 World Cup. Simply with his exclusion from this year’s Gold Cup roster it seems like Gonzalez’s time with the national team will start farther down the line. Hypothetically he could be a Julian Green-esque addition but for a player who has only recently started playing consistently for an MLS side, it’s most likely next cycle. Looking at the rest of the group, only a handful of goalkeepers are truly in the running for a trip to Russia.Read More
It seems like every week I see multiple goalkeepers launch a hopeful goal kick to a teammate close to the sideline, only to overhit it by about twenty yards. While fans may appreciate the invitation to be a part of the game, they’d rather not see their goalkeeper concede possession so easily. MLS goalkeeping standards aren’t the same as La Liga, but surely there is some standard, right?
I accessed the secret scrolls of passing statistics dating back to the 2015 season to see just how often MLS goalkeepers launch a ball straight out of bounds. For this exercise, we’ll be using the stat BOB, which stands for for “Ball Out of Bounds” because having a stat acronym with two O’s would jump ASA’s rating from G to PG and I couldn't bring myself to be the sole reason for that. We don't have the data to separate punts, throws, passes, and goal kicks but I think this still addresses the topic at hand. As such, the below BOB pulls in all 'keeper distribution, be it a goal kick launched towards midfield or a toss to a nearby teammate a foot away.
Over a total of 1587 BOB in 1622 games puts the average BOB/gm for a goalkeeper at .978.
We’re four weeks into the MLS season and have we learned anything about the goalkeeping crew yet? Tough to say. 2017 brings back some familiar faces while other teams are trying their luck by putting some youth in net. MLS is a tricky league for any rookie to hop into, but goalkeepers specifically need to have a few tools under their belt.Read More
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.Read More