Jesse Gonzalez

Setting the Table Week 32: Lee Nguyen's new role, the rise of Ebobisse, and Mutch ado about nothing by Eric Walcott

Welcome to Setting the Table. Each week we take some time to focus on the best chance creators in MLS from the last weekend. If you want to see the best chances that were wasted, check out Lowered Expectations. Here we focus on chances that ended with the ball in the back of the net.

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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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2016 ASA PREVIEW: FC DALLAS by Jason Poon

The 2015 campaign was a mixed bag for FC Dallas. On one hand, we saw a young club defy the odds and make a serious claim to be trophy contenders, matching New York Red Bulls on points for the Supporter's Shield only to lose out on goal differential. Then in the playoffs, the Hoops made a strong run, knocking off Seattle in penalties in the semi-finals, but ultimately withered under the pressure of the Portland Timbers in the Conference Finals. In both instances, real, actual silverware was a realistic possibility but ultimately the club fell short and the trophy barren run continues to haunt this franchise. (Last and only significant trophy was the 1997 Open Cup.)

While the club failed to claim any silverware, there were plenty of significant positives from their 2015 campaign that Oscar Pareja and company hope to build on for 2016. FC Dallas is known to have one of the best academies in MLS, which has regularly promoted and integrated academy graduates into the first time. Most notable was the emergence of both El Tri U-23 starting keeper Jesse Gonzalez, who wrestled the starting position from two MLS veterans (Dan Kennedy and Chris Seitz) and USMNT prospect Kellyn Acosta in the midfield. The academy's shining moment was on Sunday, September 6 at Mapfre Stadium against the Columbus Crew when Pareja started four homegrowns across the midfield (Alex Zendejas, Acosta, Victor Ulloa and Coy Craft) along with Gonzalez in net and produced a stunning 3-0 road win.

A look at the goalkeepers after the jump.

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2015 in MLS Goalkeepers, and looking ahead to 2016 by Bill Reno

2015 was an up and down year for MLS goalkeeping. We had some surprise seasons from Stefan Frei, Tyler Deric, and David Ousted, all of which had question marks going into 2015 but clearly did work during the offseason to prepare themselves for the year. Now moving forward, each club’s fan base is excited for their goalkeeper and is probably calling them “one of the best in the league”. Jesse Gonzalez matched the young blood theme in Dallas and gave a great performance against Seattle that went into penalties. David Bingham earned praise for finally taking over the starting role in San Jose and Old Man Saunders led the league in saves with New York City. Even Brek Shea notched himself a great save for the season.

Tim Melia returned from the abyss to start for Sporting Kansas City and won perhaps the most ambiguous MLS award: Comeback Player of the Year. But most notably, Luis Robles won Goalkeeper of the Year after winning the Supporters’ Shield with New York Red Bulls. He was rewarded with a USMNT call up and hopes to add on to his single cap with the upcoming friendlies.

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