2011 MLS Previews: Keeper Rankings

2011 MLS Previews: Keeper Rankings

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 2, 2011
  • 1 Comments
  • 2011 MLS Season, 2011 MLS Season Preview, MLS Power Rankings

Kevin Hartman made many saves like this last season for FC Dallas. (Getty Images)

I think I’ve thrown out half of my preseason post ideas due to lack of time and energy to write them (18 teams is a lot to do these days!). Instead I will be going with some more league-wide previews. Today I wanted to start with some positional rankings. Yes, Power Rankings if you must get all technical. I’ll be going through the defense, midfield and forwards later on this week and into next but today we’ll begin with the keepers.

I do want to point out that today’s keeper rankings have more to do with the main starter and who is behind him on the bench rather than just a look at the starters for each team. I felt it was only fair to size up the starters and their backups in this rankings since all the other positional rankings are based on groups of players as well.

Some clubs are firm in their starting keeper while a couple are still trying to figure their situation out. A lot of how well the keepers are has to do with the defense in front of them but the teams near the top have one of those game-changing guys between the pipes.

One thing I found when writing this up was after the first few clubs, everyone below them were pretty much a crap shoot of a guess. You could make the argument for plenty of clubs to be higher/lower than they are but its a good discussion point to kick off the new season.

1. FC Dallas – I still feel that Kevin Hartman got a big snub from voters in the Keeper of the Year race last season. But moving forward into 2011, Dallas has a healthy Hartmand in goal and a very solid backup now in Chris Seitz. Not to mention the club also has a very solid prospect in Richard Sanchez from their youth system that will likely be the future of the club’s keeper situation.

2. Real Salt Lake – And in a way I feel that Rimando was also snubbed last year in the Keeper of the Year race. Rimando is still very talented and continues to lead the charge for RSL in goal. I think RSL fans feel confident that as long as they have him between the pipes, they will be in any game. Backup Kyle Reynish isn’t too bad either but he hasn’t seen a whole lot of time defending the RSL goal.

3. LA Galaxy – With the 2010 Keeper of the Year, Donovan Rickets still there, the Galaxy are going to continue to be in the hunt for a MLS Cup in 2011. Also, backup Josh Saunders has proven he can step in at a moments notice and be a very good keeper as well.

4. Seattle Sounders FC – Anytime you have a legend in goal like Kasey Keller, you’re probably going to be okay in this area. Also, the club feels confident in backup Terry Boss and rookie Bryan Meredith looks to be a guy that will be guarding a MLS goal for years to come.

5. Colorado Rapids – I feel one area the Rapids don’t get a lot of respect in is this one. Matt Pickens is a very solid keeper and one that kept them in plenty of big games last season. Just watch some of the MLS Cup against Dallas from last November and you’ll see how important he is to their club.

6. San Jose Earthquakes – I believe the Quakes are set at keeper for years to come. Currently they have Jon Busch, who is an outstanding keeper. After him they have Andrew Weber and rookie David Bingham. The latter of the two backups should be one to watch for years to come.

7. Toronto FC – I may be rating them a little high but I’ve always been a big supporter of Stefan Frei. I believe he is a game-changing keeper but he just has not had the defense in front of him to prove that just yet. Should he go down for any extended time this club will be hurting.

8. Sporting Kansas City – Jimmy Nielsen is as good as most in this league and probably deserves a lot more credit than he gets from pundits around the league. This is another club though that will be hurting a decent bit if he goes down any.

9. New York Red Bulls – Most people know I’m not too high on Bouna Coundoul but I will say he made plenty of strides in 2010 to repair his shaky play. After him is Greg Sutton, a decent backup, but not someone you want between the pipes longterm.

10. Columbus Crew – The Crew have an interesting situation going on right now, both Will Hesmer and Andy Gruenebaum are hurt. If the season started today they’d be leaning on former FC Dallas keeper Ray Burse Jr., to start in goal. Still, when healthy I believe Hesmer is one of the better keepers in the league and Gruenebaum is a good backup.

11. Chicago Fire – This is one to keep an eye on moving forward. I believe we’ll see some serious strides in the play of Sean Johnson this season. I think Johnson can make that leap forward into the top five or six keepers before long but a big thing will be how good his defense is in front of him.

12. Portland Timbers – Portland was an interesting one to rate considering who they have with Troy Perkins and backup Adin Brown. I think if Perkins plays with a viger to prove 2010 was an utter fluke from him, then the Timbers made the right call in making the trade for him this winter.

13. New England Revolution – This is one club that could easily be higher but injuries continue to play a part of how good they’ll actually be. Matt Reis is still a very good keeper and Bobby Shuttlesworth is a formidable backup to say the very least. As long as Reis is healthy for an entire season there is no reason in my mind not to think this ranking will be higher at season’s end.

14. Vancouver Whitecaps – Another interesting one to rate. I believe Joe Cannon is still a very good keeper and one that probably needed to get out of San Jose a lot sooner than he did. The Whitecaps will lean on his experience a lot in their inaugural MLS season.

15. Philadelphia Union – Considering what they had a season ago to what they have now is pretty crazy. Do we know how good Faryd Mondragon will really be for them? Is he just a guy that will help build up rookie Zac MacMath, who is possibly MLS-ready? Either this is an extremely low ranking for this bunch or one that is right on target. Time will certainly tell.

16. Houston Dynamo – Houston is in an interesting situation now, they’ve moved on from long-time net minder Pat Onstad and are moving younger. Tally Hall seems like he’ll make a decent starter and backup Tyler Deric comes from the youth system in Houston. Both seem decent but will they be enough to carry this club moving forward right now?

17. D.C. United – Speaking on Onstad, he retires and takes a position with D.C. United only to then un-retire weeks later to sign a short-term playing contract. DCU is hurting right now with injuries and I think once academy standout Bill Hamid gets healthy it will be his job for the taking. The little bit I saw out of him last year gave me belief that he’ll be a very good keeper in this league in the near future.

18. Chivas USA – I thought long and hard about where to place Chivas and they ended up last for me. Zach Thornton isn’t quite the keeper he was a couple seasons ago for them and if he goes down they’re not left with all that much. Dan Kennedy is decent but not a full-time starter in my eyes.

  • Cannon Girl

    WHO-HOOOOOOOO—GO WHITECAPS!!!!! : )