MLS Positional Rankings (Goalkeepers): Melia's excellent season edges out MLS Cup finalists

As goalscorers are rated by how many they rack up, goalkeepers are also bound to their numbers.

Goals allowed and save percentage reveal much about a keeper’s performance, yet the best keepers are those that can also command the penalty area and deny opponents at crucial stages in the match. Points and places in the standings often ride on which keepers can produce the big saves that close out a win or tie.

Several teams were roiled by goakeeping shakeups during the 2017 season. San Jose starter David Bingham was benched and eventually traded to the Galaxy, which had jettisoned all three of its first-team goalkeepers and been rebuffed in an attempt to sign David Ousted, who during the season lost the starting job for Vancouver.

The MLS career of former Goalkeeper of the Year Bill Hamid ended when he let his contract expire and signed with Danish club Midtjylland. Dynamo goalie Tyler Deric, who placed among the league leaders in goals-allowed average and save percentage, was suspended indefinitely during the playoffs after being arrested in a domestic-violence incident.

Rankings are based on performance and production in regular-season and playoff games during the 2017 season.
 
SA Top 10: Goalkeepers
1. Tim Melia (Sporting KC)
2. Stefan Frei (Seattle)
3. Alex Bono (Toronto FC)
4. Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)
5. Andre Blake (Philadelphia)
6. Luis Robles (NY Red Bulls)
7. Sean Johnson (New York City FC)
8. Zack Steffen (Columbus)
9. Bill Hamid (D.C. United)
10. Tyler Deric (Houston)
 
It took a while for Tim Melia to emerge as the rightful successor to Jimmy Nielsen, whose retirement after backstopping SKC to the MLS Cup title in 2013 left a huge void. Melia, a former MLS pool keeper who joined the team in 2015 after the league dissolved Chivas USA, did more than just back up a stingy defense: he posted a 78.4 save percentage along with a ridiculous 0.77 goals-allowed average, and stole points with some great saves.

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The Sounders and Stefan Frei led MLS with 13 regular-season shutouts as they finished third in goals allowed with 39. Frei saved 69.4 percent of the shots on goal he faced and chalked up four straight clean sheets in the playoffs prior to being beaten twice in the MLS Cup final. His counterpart in the final, Alex Bono, had wrested the TFC starting job from Clint Irwin early in the season and kept Irwin on the bench with a run of impressive displays. He saved 69.2 percent of the shots he faced and steered TFC through a pair of tricky postseason series with clutch stops.

If possible, Brad Guzan did even better than expected when he arrived midseason and those expectations were tall. He logged an amazing eight shutouts in 14 regular-season appearances, posted a league-best 80.9 save percentage, and allowed a miserly 0.71 goals per game. He’s one of many reasons Atlanta United will go into the 2018 season as a serious threat to win the league title.

Andre Blake actually posted better numbers than he did last year when he was named Goalkeeper of the Year. This season he recorded nine shutouts, a save percentage of 70.4, and a goals-allowed mark of 1.31, and finished second to Melia in the GOTY voting.

Another former Goalkeeper of the Year (in 2015), Luis Robles, extended his astonishing streak of consecutive appearances to 192 (including playoffs). He finished tied for second with 10 shutouts. In his first season with NYCFC after a long stint as the starter in Chicago, Sean Johnson posted solid numbers (1.22 goals-allowed average, 70.1 save percentage) in the regular season yet looked a bit shaky down the stretch. Zack Steffen played every minute for Crew SC and pulled off enough crucial saves that Columbus nearly reached the MLS Cup final.

Another season of being bombarded was enough for Hamid, who saved 74.2 percent of the shots he faced and conceded 35 goals in 24 games. (In United’s other 10 games, it allowed 25). The suspension halted a comeback for Deric, who won back the starting job after being benched early in the season and stopped 69.7 percent of shots on goal.

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