Kasey Keller has won three U.S. Open Cup since coming to the Sounders. He has one more chance a trophy before he retires.
There are probably better ways to write this tale. Maybe just that one picture is enough. Or maybe this line from Goalkeeping Coach Tom Dutra says it better.
There's nobody like Kasey.
One of the greatest blessings I've had as a Seattle Sounders fan, and that's really the only way I can write about Kasey Keller, is that one of my heroes in sport plays in front of me almost every day. My path to the sport was really odd. I never adopted an English team, or German, or Spainish, or whatever. The United States was the team I followed on television. Every four years I'd get to see a team sporting my nation's flag on a global stage.
Every four years during my life as a soccer fan Kasey Keller was the keeper. Josh Ford, is kind of like you and I; he too grew up with Kasey Keller as an idol. Now he gets to play on the same team as the man who defined the American keeper.
[It's] probably one of the best situations I can come into, when Kasey is wrapping up his career and he's been helping me a lot. From watching him when I was little and now playing with him is a big difference. To see what he's been doing his whole career and how he practices, and he's been helping me with my game. I'm very appreciative of how he's contributed to my game this whole year.
When the Sounders were raised to Major League Soccer, this hero was their second signing. He helped them to win three US Open Cups, once being recognized as the Player of the Tournament. As someone nearly 42, he leads all keepers with 90+ starts in Goals Against Average with a 1.06 and is 6th by Save Percentage in more than 90 starts. Sure, he's old for an athlete. There's really only one way a player gets as good as Keller is, Dutra explains;
He's a guy that will tell you that he'll never take a day off in training ... that's why he's been so good for so long
He's Kasey Keller: American Legend. He's the one that gets songs made about his performance. Keller gets praise from Romario as " the best performance by a goalkeeper I have ever seen." He went to 4 World Cups and won 3 Gold Cups, 3 US Open Cups, 3 US Soccer Athlete of Year Awards, 2 Honda Player of the Year Awards and a League Cup. He speaks German and Spanish. Dutra has worked with Keller since 2002 and when asked what he does that still amazes him his answer could be summed up as focus, but it is much more.
His mental strength is unbelievable. The way that he can just bear down and get the job done, his mental strength is unbelievable. Honestly, the way he stays focused in the game and in training day in and day out is just an unbelievable thing to see.
He's worn the shirt of the two teams I care about the most. The shirt of my nation and the shirt of my club. Saturday night we get to watch him at home for the last time in a regular season game. We know we'll see him at least two more times at home and hopefully a few more on TV. But we know our legend's time is coming to a close. Keller knows exactly why he's stepping away.
At some stage it's all going to come to an end and come to an end very rapidly and I don't wnat that to happen in the middle of a season. I don't want to not be able to train, not be able to play, not be able to perform at the level I'm used to that you're used to, that the team and the fans are used to and just be stumbling around there because of my name.
There's one problem with that, Captain. You are Kasey Keller. We don't want the American Legend to end. We will watch videos of your performances, stories will be told about your performances, generations of keepers will grow up trying to become you. When Seattle Sounders supporters, fans and players across ages look at Open Cup banners for 2009, 2010 and 2011, they will think of you. Though you only gave Seattle three years in the Green and Blue, you did not diminish your legend. It grew. An American soccer era is defined by my club's Captain.
Really it comes down to the words that Tom Dutra said
There's nobody like Kasey.
And he's your American Legend.