SA Positional Rankings: Whitecaps' Ousted leads keepers

The rapid expansion of MLS -- nine teams since 2007 -- hasn’t seemed to appreciably affect the general quality of the goalkeeping, a traditionally solid area that seems to be holding up as MLS reaches deeper and deeper into the player pool. There's no superstar a la Tony Meola or Kasey Keller or Brad Friedel, and there aren't many stiffs, either.

SA Positional Rankings:
Best Striker: Kei Kamara
Best Forward: Sebastian Giovinco
Best Attacking Midfielder: Benny Feilhaber
Best Right Midfielder: Ethan Finlay
Best Central Midfielder: Michael Bradley
Best Left Midfielder: Fabian Castillo
Best Defensive Midfielder: Dax McCarty
Best Right Back: Steven Beitashour
Best Right Center Back: Nat Borchers
Best Left Center Back: Matt Hedges
Best Left Back: Waylon Francis

Teams that don’t get it right suffer the consequences. SKC had to scramble when Jimmy Neilsen retired after leading it to the league title in 2013, and went through three goalies -- including Chilean international Luis Marin -- before stabilizing its situation.

The Galaxy’s issues this year with Jaime Penedo -- who left midseason in a contract dispute -- led to the return of Donovan Ricketts, who has since departed LA. He’s been replaced by former Chivas USA keeper Dan Kennedy, beaten out for the top job by one of the many promising youngsters developed by the FC Dallas player development program. In Philly, the goalkeeping resembles a running fiasco (the Union used four, none of whom played more than 12 games, in 2015).

Not many teams have taken the international route to fill their needs in goal despite the increased opportunities; each team is allotted eight international players and can trade for additional slots. The colleges continue to produce talented keepers, and with more teams fielding their own USL subsidiaries and the academy programs of individual teams grooming players starting at the U-14 level, the domestic goalkeeping pipeline should continue to flow.
SA Positional Rankings: Goalkeepers
1. David Ousted (Vancouver)
2. Adam Kwarasey (Portland)
3. Bill Hamid (D.C. United)
4. Stefan Frei (Seattle)
5. Luis Robles (NY Red Bulls)
6. Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
7. David Bingham (San Jose)
8. Clint Irwin (Colorado)
9. Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas)
10. Tim Melia (Sporting KC)
Ousted has commanded admiration and respect since coming to MLS from his native Denmark midway through the 2013 season. In 2015, he notched 13 shutouts for the second consecutive season and was again among the leaders with 99 saves. He’s a confident commander of the penalty area and very rarely is betrayed by a poor decision. He also saved two penalty kicks in the same game against the Red Bulls.

Kwarasey tied Ousted with 13 shutouts and won Save of the Year by soaring to the top corner and tipping away a blast off the foot of Luke Mulholland. For the past few offseasons, D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen says one of his goals is to lessen his team’s dependence on Hamid, and each year the keeper racks up impressive games and remarkable stops. He was the only regular to average more than four saves per game. Frei had the heaviest workload among keepers on the top defensive teams, with 111 saves (third-most in the league) and a 1.08 goals-allowed average. Robles gave up just two goals in four playoff games and won Goalkeeper of the Year honors for his consistency and reliability.

RSL missed the playoffs for just the second time in Rimando’s tenure (since 2007) yet he posted a sparkling 1.00 goals-allowed average and logged eight shutouts despite missing 10 games. In his first season as the Quakes’ No. 1 goalie Bingham played every minute, blanked a dozen opponents, and saved 105 shots.

Colorado’s feeble attack (a league-low 33 goals) put more pressure on the defense, and Irwin responded with 88 saves and eight shutouts. Gonzalez, 20, took over in August and allowed less than a goal per game in his 11 regular-season appearances but suffered a couple of costly, shaky moments in the playoffs. Melia ended one and a half years of musical chairs in the SKC goal and finished 10th in goals-allowed average (1.22).

HISTORY. Kevin Hartman is the only goalkeeper who was named the top goalkeeper three times in the Soccer America annual rankings. Reflecting the depth at the position through the years, 16 different goalkeepers have been named No. 1 in MLS's first 20 years.

SA's Best Goalkeepers
2015 David Ousted
2014 Nick Rimando
2013 Donovan Ricketts
2012 Jimmy Nielsen
2011 Kasey Keller
2010 Kevin Hartman
2009 Matt Reis
2008 Jon Busch
2007 Brad Guzan
2006 Matt Reis
2005 Pat Onstad
2004 Joe Cannon
2003 Pat Onstad
2002 Kevin Hartman
2001 Tim Howard
2000 Tony Meola
1999 Kevin Hartman
1998 Zach Thornton
1997 Walter Zenga
1996 Brad Friedel
1 comment about "SA Positional Rankings: Whitecaps' Ousted leads keepers".
  1. Mike Fredsell, January 4, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.

    Answer me a question-Where would the Revs be without Bobby Shuttleworth? If you did any research at all you would see how many games he kept them in games when his defense let him down. How many deflected goals went in? He is most of the time positionally correct when he is playing. How many Pk saves did he make? There is no way half those keepers are better than him. Do me a favor and do some research when you pick these teams.

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