By Ridge Mahoney
The Galaxy has a way of going through goalkeepers quickly, yet still Donovan Ricketts had to wonder where his career was going when he was traded to Montreal in November 2011, after helping L.A. win the league title.
He had to wonder again the following August when the Impact sent him to Portland in exchange for another keeper, Troy Perkins. But his excellent play this season is a major reason the Timbers topped the Western Conference and led the league with 15 shutouts (14 with Ricketts in the nets).
“He’s been tremendous all year and for me he doesn’t get enough credit,” says his coach, Caleb Porter. “I think he’s one of the top goalkeepers in the league. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody.”
Ricketts ranked third in goals-allowed average with a mark of 0.97 in his 32 games played, trailing only Matt Reis and last year’s Goalkeeper of the Year, Jimmy Nielsen. Reis isn’t eligible for the award because he played in only 12 games, and while Nielsen was strong again, Ricketts’ 92 saves were exceeded by only four counterparts.
The Timbers needed that backing to bail out a back line that lurched through some rough patches but finished the season with six shutouts in their last eight games.
Nielsen’s average of 0.88 and 13 shutouts depicts his prowess yet thanks to SKC’s stout back line he needed to make just 68 saves. RSL’s seemingly elastic Nick Rimando, 34, turned in several spectacular performances while retaining his spot in the U.S. national team pool. Unheralded yet valuable in the Supporters’ Shield-winning season was Luis Robles; only two keepers exceeded his total of 103 saves. Clint Irwin jumped from Charlotte of third-level USL PRO to MLS in a single bound, making the team after a preseason trial and then taking over the starting job to make 91 saves and post 10 shutouts to finish fifth in GAA at 1.10.
Balloting for Goalkeeper of the Year and all other major MLS awards closes Friday. Finalists will be announced Nov. 21.
Here are the top five in the chase for Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year:
1. Donovan Ricketts (Portland).
2. Nick Rimando(Real Salt Lake).
3. Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City).
4. Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls).
5. Clint Irwin (Colorado).
Who's your pick for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year? Begin the debate on Twitter or Facebook.