Goalkeeping Numbers; or, How Good is Kasey Keller?

Obviously the primary problem the Sounders have is scoring goals. But on the defensive end, it has appeared to me that we give up goals despite controlling the run of play much of the time, and that we give up a high amount of goals relative to the number of opposing goal-scoring opportunities. There could be multiple reasons for this, one of which is goalkeeping.

Since the new MLS website is operating under the belief that statistics are to be hidden away in dark caves far far away from anyone who might want to use them, I went in myself and calculated the save percentage for each keeper who has played over 500 minutes this season. The number given is the total number of shots on goal a keeper faces, divided by the number of saves that keeper makes. I.e., Ricketts saves 93.4% of shots on goal.

Donovan Ricketts, LA       0.934
Kevin Hartman, Dallas      0.792
Bouna Coundoul, NYRB   0.758
Matt Pickens, Colorado     0.756
Preston Burpo, NE           0.738
Will Hesmer, Columbus    0.738
Stephan Frei, Toronto       0.7
Andrew Dykstra, Chicago 0.667
Jimmy Nielsen, KC          0.658
Joe Cannon, San Jose     0.647
Nick Rimando, RSL         0.645
Pat Onstad, Houston        0.64
Kasey Keller, Seattle        0.639
Troy Perkins, DCU          0.615
Zack Thornton, fat           0.607
Chris Seitz, hahaha         0.545

(raw numbers found here)

Two things stand out right away. Donovan Ricketts is really good, and Chris Seitz is really bad. Both of which makes sense.

But the placing of Keller is interesting. The Sounders netminder is well below the elite level of MLS keepers. He's faced only 36 shots on goal, but has made just 23 saves. This would seem to be indicative of one of three things. The defense in front of him could be normally very good but often breaks down to allow goal-scoring opportunities that the keeper can do nothing about. Keller and the defense could just be very unlucky. Or, Keller might not be saving as many shots on goal as he should.

The on-field evidence suggests that at least the first possibility is true. There have been quite a few stupid turnovers by defenders that led directly to goals. But maybe it's time to stop thinking of Kasey Keller as one of the very elite goalkeepers in MLS, because at this point, the numbers don't back it up.

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