Revisiting The 2011 Rankings: Keepers

Revisiting The 2011 Rankings: Keepers

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On October 18, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Season, 2011 MLS Season Review, Features, MLS Power Rankings

Donovan Ricketts and his backup Josh Saunders have been some of the best keepers in 2011. (Getty Images)

Before the start of the 2011 MLS Season I went through each position and ranked the teams by I thought would be the best at that position in 2011. With the final week of the season upon us, I figure it is a good time to go and revisit those rankings and call out where I was spot on and where I was way off.

Today I will be taking a look back at the keepers.

Just to recap those rankings a little bit and how I determined who went where – I ranked the teams – not individual players. For keepers it was about the main starter and the depth behind them. If you feel I am off on my revisit here, then let’s hear it in the comments section below.

1. FC Dallas – I stated back in March that Dallas had the top group and I still feel that way. Kevin Hartman has had a very strong season and his backups (Chris Seitz and academy star Richard Sanchez) are still likely the future of this club. No need to change this ranking in my mind. Hartman is tied for the league lead in shutouts this season and current has one of the top goals against averages.  (Preseason ranking: 1)

2. LA Galaxy – Donovan Ricketts and Josh Saunders continue to be a great duo in net for the Galaxy. When healthy, Ricketts has been good and Saunders has been strong as a backup too. Oh and let’s not for get Mike Magee’s performance against San Jose earlier this year too! Both Ricketts and Saunders have killer goals against average but neither will end up winning the Keeper of the Year award due to the amount of games the two have split this season. (Preseason Ranking: 3)

3. Real Salt Lake – This is largely because of Nick Rimando and what he brings to the table. He keeps RSL in games and at times helps them win them. He and Hartman are neck-and-neck for Keeper of the Year at this point and with one final game for each this season, they could cause a lot of voters some issues. Rimando is tied with Hartman for the shutout lead in the league and he is also one of the best in terms of goals against average. (Preseason Ranking: 2)

4. Seattle Sounders – Hard to put Kasey Keller at 4th but I am ranking groups not just individuals here. Keller has nine shutouts and a solid GAA right now. His backups are still young and I have to believe that they’ll be looking outside of MLS for Keller’s replacement for next season. (Preseason Ranking: 4)

5. Philadelphia Union – Have to say I was way off on the Union to start the season but I did admit at the time that we just didn’t know how good Faryd Mondragon would be for them. Turns out he was one of the most consistent keepers in the league this year. Rookie Zac MacMath has filled in nicely while Mondragon was out injured too. (Preseason Ranking: 15)

6. Colorado Rapids – Only down a peg from my preseason rankings. I’ll repeat what I wrote then that I do believe that this group gets overlooked and are underrated for the Rapids. Matt Pickens is as solid as they come in MLS – he has eight shutouts and a strong GAA. (Preseason Ranking: 5)

7. Chivas USA – Before the year I had no faith in this club’s keepers but boy did Dan Kennedy prove me wrong time and time again this season. If he isn’t one of the most improved players in all of MLS, then I don’t know who is. (Preseason Ranking: 18)

8. Houston Dynamo – I stated at the start of the year that they had gone young in goal with Tally Hall. It turns out that move has worked out pretty well for them this season. Hall has six shutouts and a decent GAA. He looks like a strong keeper for the future for this club. (Preseason Ranking: 16)

9. Columbus Crew – William Hesmer continues to be a strong starting keeper in this league. His stats this season aren’t sexy but they are getting the job done and are putting the Crew back into the playoffs. Andy Gruenebaum also been a solid backup for the Crew when they have needed him this year. I still view them as middle of the pack though when you boil it all down. (Preseason Ranking: 10)

10. San Jose Earthquakes – I had them a little higher at the start of the year due to how much I liked Jon Busch. I still like Busch as a keeper and his depth is pretty decent with David Bingham. But when you look at things Busch’s numbers were down a bit due to his defense having so many issues. (Preseason Ranking: 6)

11. Sporting Kansas City – It has been an interesting year in KC. They had the long road trip, then the massive home stand. Jimmy Neilsen has been consistent for the most part this season. Backup Eric Kronberg has been decent in the few games he has started this year as well. Some will want this ranking higher but middle of the pack seems fair for this bunch. (Preseason Ranking: 8 )

12. DC United – Bill Hamid has proven to be the keeper of the future for this club and while the depth behind him is largely dry, he continues to improve week after week. (Preseason Ranking: 17)

13. Chicago Fire – Sean Johnson is another young keeper in the rise, I thought he would go a little higher at the start of the season but it has taken a while for his defense to come together this season. I’d expect this ranking for Chicago to be higher going into 2012. (Preseason Ranking: 11)

14. Toronto FC – I feel like this one is low and it could be even lower considering the amount of goals given up by this club earlier this year (though I do believe that falls more on the defense and midfield than the keepers). Stefan Frei continues to be one of those keepers that improves from year-to-year and his backup Milos Kocic has filled in nicely for him in games where he’s been hurt. Definitely some building blocks for the future. (Preseason Ranking: 7)

15. New York Red Bulls – Yes, I believe the Red Bulls keeper situation deserves to be ranked this low. Bouna Coundoul and Greg Sutton couldn’t get the job done earlier this year. Then comes in DP Frank Rost who hasn’t really changed a whole lot for New York. I was a bit too kind to this group back in March. (Preseason Ranking: 9)

16. Portland Timbers – Troy Perkins has been solid this year for the expansion Timbers. Good at times and also bad at times. There is some room for improvement going into next year as I have doubts about his backup situation. (Preseason Ranking: 12)

17. Vancouver Whitecaps – Going back and forth early on between Jay Nolly and Joe Cannon could have done a number to this team but then again their defense wasn’t too great all year either. Neither had great stats this season to argue a higher placement but there is hope for this club going into 2012 I believe. (Preseason Ranking: 14)

18. New England Revolution – Matt Reis and Bobby Shuttlesworth have split some time this season and really it hasn’t been all rosy for the Revs. Neither have great GAA or shutout numbers and seeing how the Revs are the worst club in the league, this ranking feels about right. (Preseason Ranking: 13)


  • QuakeFan

    Hate to say it, but your geographical preference is showing here 🙂 Putting Dallas above LA is wishful thinking. The numbers aren’t there. Ricketts and Saunders both have better Saves percentages and GAA numbers. Since you’re ranking as a group it shouldn’t matter that they split the season. They have the best numbers AND the best results. 

    Of course, I think that Jon Busch and Bingham showed enough to be a little higher on that ladder (as you stated San Jose’s defense was to blame for a lot of the opportunities), but then that’s MY bias 😛

    • Yeah I figured I’d get this about FCD and LA. For me it comes down to this I’d take Hartman, Seitz and Sanchez over Ricketts and Saunders any day. Simple as that, it has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve seen them all more than Ricketts and Saunders or that the defenses are pretty level with one another. It basically comes down to the fact that I believe Hartman wins more games for Dallas than Ricketts/Saunders does for LA. Really w/ the keepers there is no right or wrong answer with the top four.

  • Will

    Frankly, I am somewhat surprised at the Timbers and Troy Perkins being so low on the list.  He had a career year with nine shutouts (tied for 3rd in the league), had the same save percentage as most of your top ranked keepers (9th in the league in keepers with 10 or more games played), and won the save of the week five times (which was obviously heavily influenced by our rabid fan base, but still). 
    As far as backups go Adin Brown was not great but he did his thing and was just injured for most of the year, while Jake Gleeson got shelled whenever he was in goal, making some amazing saves in the process) but till remains a top young prospect in the league in my eyes and is honestly about as good of a shot stopper as Perkins.  I have also heard that he will likely be traveling with the New Zealand u-23’s to the London Olympics.
    So, basically, 16th?  Below New York?  For real?

    • Yeah I went back and forth on the Timbers but by the end of it I had trouble viewing their stats/season/record/etc. better than those above them. That 10-16 group gave me a lot of fits when writing this up and in the end this is where the Timbers landed.

      I think next year it may be best to group the keepers and the defenders together. Some of the teams near the bottom like Portland are there because of their defenders too.

    • Will

      Oops, Perkins only won it four times but was nominated a couple other times, I think.  Gleeson also picked to two Save of the Week wins in his four games played.

  • I’m surprised Frei is so low. Yes, he got scored on a ton, but that was virtually not his fault. He pretty much didn’t have a back line until half way through the season. And the entire time, he kept his team from falling further back.

  • NYC

    If Hans Backe wasn’t such a retard. Bouna would’ve had a great season. Why? Look at all the amazing things he has done with his national team (Senegal). The competition between him and Sutton should have never been created. Bouna was benched after he had 3 or 4 straight shutouts earlier this season. After a loss vs Chivas Hans found a way to blame him for the loss to insert Sutton back in and completely ruined his confidence. Bouna still has one of the best GK stats in MLS.

     Rost is overhyped. Let’s be honest with ourselves, he sucks.