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Sounders Keepers Through Lens of Tools

Sounders Keepers Tools - Kasey Keller and Terry Boss
Sounders Keepers Tools - Kasey Keller and Terry Boss

Our discussion to tools moves to its final subset, that of the goalkeeper. Back when the post on Keeper tools was discussed in the abstract people most objected to Technical Ability capturing positioning, catching, punching. Hopefully this discussion gets us a bit further.

The ratings are an average of the writers at the time (myself, Jeremiah, sidereal, malcontentjake) as well as Graham from WAGNH. Below the break a discussion about the two keepers through this lens, and the difference between an average keeper and a great one in MLS.

Technical Ability - With outfield players this would talk about footwork, and passing. Here it is about catching the ball, or punching, or blocking. It is also about proper positioning.

Leadership - Simply the ability to command the defense, whether during run of play, or during set-plays.

Distribution - This is what James was talking about. Can the keeper upon making the save, or starting from the goal kick start the attack?

Reactions - For outfield players every portion of pure athleticism was in a single tool. But the life of the keeper is one that is about reactions - both mental and physical.

Physique - Height, strength, speed and how the keeper uses their physical traits to their advantage. Just being fast, strong, and tall isn't enough.

Kasey Keller didn't have a great 2010, at least not statistically. His statistics were average, but his leadership and distribution were still notable. He is slower than he once was. But the difference between an good, average and poor keeper statistically using save % and SoG allowed works out to only +/- 5 goals over a season. He takes a keeper that is truly horrendous to shift that. This is part of the reason why the traditional view of keeper tools are lumped into the technical area. The differences there are minor. That and there are only going to be a few moments when those sub-skills matter more than anything else the keeper does. The game is 90 minutes after all, and only a handful of shots on goal against a game.

Terry Boss didn't get to show us much. The team rode Keller so much that much of what we saw from Boss makes him look like a replacement level keeper. Considering that they discovered him from the old USL-2, that may be accurate. This season we should see more of Boss, just due to age and the greater number of competitive matches. In Boss, the writers essentially see someone who will let in a couple more goals than Keller, but not a huge amount, likely from his quicker reactions.

As most readers here already think, depth at keeper is one of the issues facing the team for 2011, and the starter for 2012 is a complete unknowable at this point. We will all get to see one or two new keepers this season to see if one of them has the ability to step up and be at least league average with a great defense in front of them.

Also, that's it for the Tools discussion looking backwards. Moving forward we'll start to use tools to discuss how we think a player will look in one year or three. Probably going to crowd-source that. Likely during the week of First Kick after we've seen select players in the Cascadia Summit and Charity Shield.