[MLS] Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman is the league’s all-time shutout leader but had to sit on the sidelines for most of
the preseason while Kansas City negotiated with another goalie and finally swung a trade with Dallas for Hartman’s rights. The 35-year-old has taken the starting job from Dario Sala, and in the past three games has given up only one goal.
SOCCER AMERICA: Were you concerned that discussions with Kansas City were taking so long you’d be unable to find a spot in MLS?
KEVIN HARTMAN: I could tell as things got drawn out longer and longer that there was definitely a possibility something was going on, but we kept negotiating in good faith and it was an interesting situation, because it ended up being so late. Everybody had already been in their preseason for a number of weeks so it was very awkward timing.
SA: Was this a deliberate tactic by Kansas City to keep you off the market as long as possible?
HARTMAN: I’d hate to draw conclusions on it. I have my personal opinions but that’s not really something I want out and about.
SA: How is it working out with Dallas, and in particular goalie Dario Sala, who’s started most of the games when healthy the past four seasons?
HARTMAN: It’s only the second time in my career that I’ve had to move and it’s taken a little bit of a readjusting time for me, but the fact I did it went I went to Kansas City [from Los Angeles in 2006] has made it easier. The other thing is, I’ve developed an even better relationship with Dario Sala, who I already was friends with. He told the club I was somebody he’d like to play with and train with, so that was reassuring and wasn’t awkward at all. That’s made the transition a lot more smooth.
SA: How are your wife Jennifer and daughter Chloe handling the move to Dallas?
HARTMAN: My wife has been extremely adaptable which is really, really cool. That’s not to say that the time between teams was easy for her, but since FC Dallas really stepped up to plate and made an offer at a very opportune time, she’s really been excited about it. The team has really reached out to her and to us, and so have the other players. They’ve really welcomed us.
SA: Dallas nearly made the playoffs last year with a four-game winning streak, and so far this season has tied a lot of games but is displaying a real attacking prowess. Isn’t this something the goalkeeper has to monitor?
HARTMAN: A lot of the time with clubs I played for, when a guy gets in a cross you were lucky to have one or two guys in the box. We’re a team at times that will have five or six guys in the box attacking and we just have to be sure we have guys like [central midfielders] Daniel Hernandez and Dax McCarty looking over their shoulders to make sure we’re staying disciplined and we have our shape. I’ve enjoyed getting acclimated to the group and becoming a part of it.
The defensive midfielders are guys I really want to be in good communication with, because I can give information to Daniel and Dax and they can relay it forward, so we can defend with a block of six or a block of four or whatever it may be. Those guys are really critical to the success of the team.
SA: If not for a stoppage-time equalizer in Philadelphia last weekend the team would have posted three straight shutouts with you in the nets. Do you think you’re back to top form?
HARTMAN: I think so. It’s difficult. The hardest part for me was the psychological aspect, but I’ve really started to feel very, very comfortable in the team. That’s the biggest thing for me, to show the guys they don’t have to be looking over their shoulder at me and can concentrate on the things in front of them.
We won down in Houston with 10 guys for the first time ever. We’ve come back twice this year in [stoppage time], so there’s always this belief that we can get it done no matter what. I love that. The fact that I’ve been able to throw together three good games has helped my confidence and I just want to continue to do it.
SA: You had played every minute for Kansas City the past three seasons since the trade from LA. Did being moved again sting a little bit?
HARTMAN: I think the change was good for me. I had to push myself and prove myself. Things like that are going to hopefully extend my career. I know that having to prove myself again this year gained respect and working with a new goalkeeper coach [Drew Keeshan] has been great. These are things you have to overcome and persevere through. I like that, having to make a statement.
SA: What kind of statement would it be for Dallas to beat the unbeaten Galaxy on Thursday?
HARTMAN: We recognize how good Los Angeles is. Bruce [Arena] has done a very, very good job of making sure they’re very solid throughout the squad. We have to make sure we approach them with the respect they deserve, use our tactics, and just play our game: keep possession, and match the other team’s workrate. It’s impressive that they’ve put so many points together this early in the season.
Even though we’ve only lost once in eight games [2-1-5] we haven’t gotten the points we expected to. This is an opportunity for us to measure ourselves, to play in front of our home fans, and try to add to that win column.