[MLS] At the start of the MLS season, Soccer Americaranked each team by position. With the domestic transfer window closed and about a month remaining for teams to make moves (the trade deadline and roster freeze date is Sept. 15), the updated rankings start with the goalkeepers.
Each team’s goalies are evaluated for experience, competence, depth and performance this season. All players with MLS experience are listed, except for those drafted from the league’s pool of keepers for emergency purposes.
1. REAL SALT LAKE (Nick Rimando, Kyle Reynish).Preseason ranking: 5. Rimando is among the league leaders in saves (73), goals-allowed average (0.75), and shutouts (9). Reynish backstopped a 1-1 tie at Philly last week in his first league start for RSL.
2. LOS ANGELES (Donovan Ricketts, Josh Saunders).Preseason: 4. The Galaxy’s recent defensive collapses aren’t the fault of its goalkeepers and in spite of the bad days Ricketts is still No.1 in goals-allowed average (0.68) and shutouts (10).
3. FC DALLAS (Kevin Hartman, Dario Sala).Preseason: 10. Hartman has allowed only 11 goals in 15 games (0.73 average) and of those 15, FCD has lost just once. Sala has years of experience as a starter.
4. COLUMBUS (Will Hesmer, Andy Gruenebaum).Preseason: 7. One of many starters to play every minute this season, Hesmer (0.95, eight shutouts) is quick, confident and reliable. The Crew defense isn’t quite as airtight as it’s been in the past, so he will be called upon for big saves if Columbus is to regain the league title it relinquished last year.
5. COLORADO (Matt Pickens).Preseason: 12. Good last year when saddled with a rickety back line, Pickens has lowered his GAA to 0.95. The Rapids are one of the most improved teams defensively so far this season and their keeper is among the reasons.
6. SEATTLE (Kasey Keller, Terry Boss). Preseason: 2. The loss of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and fluctuating form of Tyrone Marshall has put more pressure on their replacements and Keller (1.17, eight shutouts), who hasn’t been quite as sharp as he was last season.
7. CHIVAS USA (Zach Thornton, Dan Kennedy).Preseason: 1. Injuries and inconsistent defensive play have taken the goalkeeping down a notch from its excellent standard of last year. A knee injury has sidelined Kennedy for the season; Thornton got back in the nets last week and despite an ouchy ankle blanked Seattle in a 0-0 tie.
8. TORONTO FC (Stefan Frei, Jon Conway, Milos Kocic).Preseason: 8. Frei has followed up an impressive rookie season with better positioning and decision-making to supplement his sharp reflexes and excellent range. Avoiding errors down the stretch will be a key factor in TFC’s playoff quest.
9. SAN JOSE (Joe Cannon, Jon Busch).Preseason: 13. Two former Goalkeeper of the Year winners is a great resource, except that only one can play at a time. A horrendous Busch error in a 1-0 loss to Colorado returned Cannon to the nets and he thwarted Kansas City on several occasions last weekend in a vital 1-0 win.
10. NEW YORK (Bouna Coundoul, Greg Sutton). Preseason: 15. He still lives on the edge more often than his coach and teammates might like, but the bravery and quickness of Coundoul (1.16, seven shutouts) is a definite asset. He’s less likely to give away bad goals, but hasn’t eradicated that flaw from his persona.
11. KANSAS CITY (Jimmy Nielsen).Preseason: 14. In his first MLS season, the Dane has earned Save of the Week honors multiple times yet has also let a few stoppable shots slip by him while playing every minute. The Wizards need a bit more from him to get into the playoffs.
12. NEW ENGLAND (Matt Reis, Preston Burpo).Preseason: 6. Reis is back in the nets after recovering from two offseason surgeries, and in his stead Burpo didn't dazzle. Both have allowed about 1.5 goals per game and that won’t be enough for a playoff slot unless the attack goes bonkers.
13. HOUSTON (Pat Onstad, Tally Hall).Preseason: 3. The traditional defensive resilience of the Dynamo hasn’t been present this season. Onstad labored through some indifferent performances prior to suffering an abdominal injury that has sidelined him, and Hall has been all right but no great shakes.
14. CHICAGO (Sean Johnson, Andrew Dykstra).Preseason: 9. Maybe Johnson, who has two Save of the Week awards and blanked New York last weekend in a 0-0 tie since taking over in goal two weeks ago, can be the rookie solution to Chicago’s goalkeeping problem. Dykstra obviously isn’t. Performances in the SuperLiga and U.S. Open Cup helped Johnson wrest the starter’s job away from Dykstra.
15. PHILADELPHIA (Chris Seitz, Brad Knighton).Preseason: 16. A sometimes porous back line hasn’t made it easier on the keepers, who have both performed well at times but not been capable of the big saves at critical moments. Seitz, whose physical tools are unquestioned, has yet to find a consistent groove.
16. D.C. UNITED (Troy Perkins, Bill Hamid).Preseason: 11. Like everything else, the goalkeeping has been bad, but especially galling for United fans is the allocation United used to bring Perkins back from Europe.