It is rare in club soccer in relatively minor leagues to be able to watch the best player that has ever played for your own nation. For the Sounders of Seattle we have that unique privilege. Certainly the best American Keeper in history has retired from international play, but he is still a decent player. In fact he's pretty damn good.
He was only a top 3 keeper in MLS last year, but for Sounders fans we saw a Captain who lead with words both public and private. Occasionally these words were a little too public (recently concerning Ljungberg, but also changing the play of the wingbacks), but his leadership was unquestionable. He is Kasey Keller. He is Big. He is Tall. He is a ****** ******* Wall.
Keepers have different skills. They are a unique beasts.
First and foremost is shot stopping: There are few worries here, his lateral movement has not faded much. His hands are still solid. More a grabber than a puncher, though sometimes he just knocks it to later collectthe ball himself. His save rate was decent, but not great.
Line Management: Keller communicates as well as anyone in the sport. Like the mic-ed linebacker in the NFL he coaches the defense from the field. In the 214 we can sometimes here his shouting even over the crowd. In practices he can even manage the offense with his voice. He is a leader, and his teammates respect him.
Ball Distribution: Some teams like to start the counter even off of a saved shot, and Seattle is able to do that. Often Keller prefers the long toss over the nearly useless punt. He can spark a run by distributing up to Leo Gonzalez about 40 yards out, or Alonso, or Riley. The only issue comes at those times when he has a ball that he can not grab but must kick with his left foot. Honestly, if your keeper is going to have a weakness, that is one I would pick.
Clean Sheets - 10 (2nd)
Goals Against Average - 0.92 (2nd)
Save Percentage - 72.2% (9th)
Plus/Minus - 15 | 13 (1st among keepers)
Plus/Minus per 90 - 0.53 | 0.512
Potential Peak - Even though Keepers peak later than any other position Keller is clearly past his peak. Maybe another All Star appearance or two in his future, but that has more to do with his popularity than his skills. But he certainly can do this for at least two more years.
That's it for the recaps of last season's players. Thoughts on Keller's season and future?