[MLS] Heading into the 15th MLS season, Soccer America will rank each team at each position. First up, the goalkeepers.
The keepers for each team are ranked for experience, competence, and depth. The backups, of which there may be more than one per team, also figure into the evaluations and are listed if they have MLS experience.
1. CHIVAS USA (Zach Thornton, Dan Kennedy). Thornton, the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, is back in training, recovering from a strained hip flexor. Jon Conway was waived in preseason.
2. SEATTLE (Kasey Keller). A Keller breakdown could be catastrophic but if he repeats his first MLS season, all is well in Soundersville.
3. HOUSTON (Pat Onstad, Tally Hall). The league’s oldest player just keeps on ticking and the Dynamo’s heavy domestic and international schedule has given Hall some quality time.
4. LOS ANGELES (Donovan Ricketts, Josh Saunders). A strong first season for Ricketts, and Saunders’ poised performances as his replacement, including a courageous performance as a sub in MLS Cup, bode well for the Galaxy.
5. REAL SALT LAKE (Nick Rimando, Kyle Reynish). Plaudits were heaped on Rimando for his MLS Cup heroics but he seldom erred in the 33 games prior to the grand finale.
6. NEW ENGLAND (Matt Reis, Preston Burpo). Reis is recovering from two offseason surgeries, and Burpo suffered through some erratic stints last year for the Rapids. A healthy Reis moves the Revs up a peg or two, at least.
7. COLUMBUS (Will Hesmer, Andy Gruenebaum, Kenny Schoeni). Gruenebaum played 10 games last year as Hesmer struggled with back injuries and fluctuating form yet still logged excellent stats.
8. TORONTO (Stefan Frei, Brian Edwards). A few costly errors marred an otherwise excellent rookie season for Frei. Edwards has played nine games in his first two pro seasons, yet could he handle the No. 1 job if Frei is sold overseas?
9. CHICAGO (Jon Busch). The lack of an experienced backup affects this ranking; on his day, Busch is a very hard keeper to beat though a tad reckless.
(NOTE: On Monday Chicago released Busch.)
10. FC DALLAS (Kevin Hartman, Dario Sala). Hartman is the better of two solid keepers but only one can play; will competition help or hinder FCD?
11. D.C. UNITED (Troy Perkins. Josh Wicks). If Perkins can re-adjust to MLS, fans might forget the bizarre antics of Wicks.
12. COLORADO (Matt Pickens). Meltdowns elsewhere shrouded solid showings in goal when a healthy Pickens got the nod.
13. SAN JOSE (Joe Cannon, Andrew Weber). With a more stable team in front of him, Cannon can redeem a mediocre 2009 season.
14. KANSAS CITY (Jimmy Nielsen). Hartman was deemed expendable so this Danish veteran could be signed; he’s replacing one of the league’s all-time bests.
15. NEW YORK (Bouna Coundoul, Greg Sutton). Streaky MLS careers for both Coundoul (ex-Colorado) and Sutton (formerly Toronto) make this a Red Bull question mark.
16. PHILADELPHIA (Chris Seitz, Brad Knighton). Much potential has been shown by both keepers in limited MLS action; can one hold onto the starter’s jersey, or will Coach Peter Nowak let them slug it out with rookie Brian Perk?
What do you think of our rankings? Which team has improved itself in the offseason? Who could be hurting in 2010? Comment below ...