Goal Keepers

Our Favorite ASA Articles of 2018 by Drew Olsen

During a recent American Soccer Analysis shareholders meeting in the penthouse suite of the swanky hotel we built in Minecraft (it’s our Slack channel), we discussed our favorite ASA articles of the past year. Because it is the season of listicles and we relish every chance to talk about ourselves, we decided to put them all together in one official post. Also, our site traffic is essentially zero at this time of year, so it seemed like an easy way for us to remember where we put them.

It was a great year for MLS (though perhaps not American soccer overall) and the most successful in our five year life as a website. We added interactive tables, introduced xPG, rebooted the podcast (new episode coming out soon! …probably), and added a lot of great new writers to our existing ranks of stale old writers. They’re not all represented in the list below, but special shout out to our weekly contributors who put together content every week - Little Things (@harrisonhamm21), Lowered Expectations (@harrison_crow), Expected Narratives (@ahandleforian), and Setting the Table (@ericwsoccer) - showed us the individual plays each week that made up the whole of the MLS season. We’d also like to extend a special thank you to Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post, for including us as a part of the WaPo’s incredible World Cup coverage.

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The Top 10 Starting Goalkeepers for the 2018 World Cup by Bill Reno

The last time I wrote a top ten list of World Cup goalkeepers the website promptly folded. So congratulations to American Soccer Analysis on a good run and I wish all the writers the best in their future endeavors. Now with that out of the way, here’s the inside scoop on the top goalkeepers in Russia this summer.

While there are a number of projections and odds on who’s most likely to win the Golden Boot, the Golden Glove typically goes to the winning team’s goalkeeper, regardless of actual performance. Consider this more of a list of goalkeepers most likely to ruin another country’s shot at lifting the trophy. If your country faces one of these goalkeepers, you may want to double down on your pre-game rituals and superstitions.

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Tim Howard, Frank Rost, and MLS' Abandonment of the Average American Player by Bill Reno

The offseason is a truly wonderful time for every backup player. Will this be the offseason their hard work is rewarded? Perhaps they'll receive a new contract with their current club. Maybe they will move up the depth chart or see greener pastures with a new team. The winter break changes teams’ concerns from what players have done last season to what the players could do next year. For backups and fringe starters, the starting of a new season offers hope in a variety of ways.

As ASA’s resident goalkeeper dude, the offseason carousel is truly a righteous ride. Each new year holds the potential of a Tim Melia: a goalkeeper who was passed on by every team in the league only to become the best. And then there are the Sean Johnsons and Joe Bendiks, players whose careers are finally ready for a positive turn with a new team. But don’t forget about the youngsters, like Alex Bono and Zack Steffen, who are given a chance to take the reins despite being a little green. With all these positive strides in the league, I was curious about the most important position’s payment for their services.

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2017 MLS Goalkeeping in Review by Bill Reno

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.

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The State of the USMNT Goalkeepers by Bill Reno

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.

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MLS Goalkeepers or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BOB by Bill Reno

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.

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Six Goalkeeping Narratives You're Dying to See Unfold by Bill Reno

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.

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Forget Everything You Think You Know About Goal Kicks by Jared Young

The ball is placed on painted grass and a tall bright goalkeeper strides backward toward the goal. Now lunging forward the leg swings like a pendulum through the ball sending it bravely toward the sky. The onlookers lift their gaze as the ball reaches the peak of its flight. Two gladiators lock limbs below, jostling for position. They leap together in an effort to possess the falling ball. There is a deflection and the gladiators separate. They rejoin the play.

Long kicks by goalkeepers are a staple in soccer matches and they are a beautiful sight to behold, but that doesn't mean they are a good idea. By the end of this article I hope to convince you of that fact, even if the data isn't entirely perfect.

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Why Andre Blake and David Bingham Shouldn't Win Goalkeeper of the Year by Bill Reno

The MLS All-Stars fell 2-1 to Arsenal in the most recent all-star game, with Philadelphia’s Andre Blake and San Jose’s David Bingham splitting time in net. On paper, the two selections make sense. Blake started for Jamaica in the Gold Cup this summer and Bingham was in the running for being the third stringer for the US. But as we've passed the halfway point of the season, the next time a goalkeeper will be selected to represent MLS is with the annual Goalkeeper of the Year Award. The two have a myriad of saves, but are they really deserving of MLS’s most and only prestigious goalkeeping award? More after the jump.

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