Monday, September 18, 2006

Looming Goalkeeper Crisis/Turnover/Uncertainty in MLS

It's something I've read a number of times this year. The new common wisdom is that the state of goalkeeping in MLS is not what it was a few years ago.

You can see this debate on the national team as well. After being completely solid at the position since our return to the World Cup in 1990, we now face a future without Friedel/Keller/Meola. It seems like the only guy who is near that level is Howard, but if he goes down then we may be in trouble. Marcus Hahnemann is decent but may not be around in 2010 (he'll be 38).

Ives Galarcep talked about it back on January 31 in this story. That was before this season; now it seems even more pronounced. The two expansion teams may have diluted things a bit last year, but I think what we're seeing now is a bunch of players who have been in the league forever and are past their prime. Tony Meola is having a really bad year, but also there's Scott Garlick, Kevin Hartman, Bo Oshoniyi, and Zach Thornton. In fact, of the 12 main guys for each team, only 2 are below the age of 30 (Perkins, Gaudette). In 2003, it was 7/10.

That's not to say that old keepers are less talented. Just take a look at Friedel, Lehmann, or Van der Sar in England. But the Premiership has it's share of youth as well. On the opening weekend, nearly half (9/20) of the keepers were under 30.

So there's definitely going to be a lot of change in the next year or two as those veterans retire or get pushed aside. There needs to be some quality young prospects ready to step in and stake their claim. Already we've seen in with Troy Perkins, and now Brad Guzan will get another chance with Chivas. Matt Pickens has looked decent filling in for Thornton. Steve Cronin is another one, although he couldn't replace Hartman this year. However, he was named to the All Star team at the U20 World Cup in 2003, so he should be a solid pro. Will Hesmer and Jay Nolly are two more young guys who have seen playing time this year. There's a lot of promise, but the jury's still out on these guys.

Every time I see Meola or Garlick beaten to the near post, or a goal like Hartman's against Cunningham, it makes me worry about this. We need the young guns in MLS to step up so we can keep up the high standard we've been used to.

2006

CHI-Zach Thornton (32)
CHV-Preston Burpo (33)
CLB-Bill Guadette (25)
COL-Joe Cannon (31)
DAL-Dario Sala (31)
DC-Troy Perkins (25)
HOU-Pat Onstad (38)
KC-Bo Oshoniyi (34)
LA-Kevin Hartman (32)
NE-Matt Reis (31)
NY-Tony Meola (37)
RSL-Scott Garlick (34)

2003

CHI-Zach Thornton (29)
CLB-Jon Busch (27)
COL-Scott Garlick (31)
DAL-D.J. Countess (21)
DC-Nick Rimando (24)
KC-Tony Meola (34)
LA-Kevin Hartman (29)
NE-Adin Brown (25)
NY-Tim Howard (24)
SJ-Pat Onstad (35)

Comments on "Looming Goalkeeper Crisis/Turnover/Uncertainty in MLS"

 

Blogger The Manly Ferry said ... (10:42 AM, September 18, 2006) : 

I've been more or less impressed with Brad Guzan. He makes his share of mistakes, but he's also - what? - 12-years-old?

They'll come together. As much as it's been nice having some really kick ass goalkeepers since '90, it's just one of those things with which we'll have to cope.

 

Blogger Midwestsurfer said ... (2:08 AM, September 19, 2006) : 

Its also hard to replace guys like Hartman and Thorton that have done so much for their teams in this first decade. Guys like Meola are Best XI Players for more than one team, and its just hard to see them on the bench.

I agree that we need the young generation to step it up. But some of it is up to the coaches, and who they give time to between the pipes.

Its Brett Farve Syndrom if you ask me. These guys have just done so much, and even though you might have a talented youngster, its hard to let go.

 

Blogger Titan said ... (4:25 AM, September 19, 2006) : 

Yeah, Guzan, given time and proper coaching, could be something special.

Given the porous backline he had standing in front of him last year, he did well for himself, and it's only to be expected that he'd pick up a few bad habits as a result.

Put him in the cellar and let him age.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:56 AM, September 19, 2006) : 

Guzan is starting again for Chivas. Onstad doesnt have that much left in him,so Wells will be starting sooner or later most likely. The problem is there are only 12 spots in the entire league currently, Goalkeepers can easily play the entire season, and guys can play effectively well into their 30s. Its just hard for guys to break into the league, as few teams want to take a chance with the lack of experience that comes with a young keeper.

 

Anonymous ckda781 said ... (7:09 PM, September 20, 2006) : 

What about Countess? He is starting in the Swedish first division. He just signed on as backup, but earned the starting position in only a couple games. He's had two brilliant games so far... and he hadn't played a game since last year. Last game had 11 saves and saved a PK. Looks like he found another bad team. But don't count him out.

 

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