Three Things the USWNT Needs to Address With Its Goalkeeper Position

It's a worrisome time for the USWNT goalkeeper position. A last place finish at the SheBelieves Cup in March raised concerns with the current starters, Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris. Now with Harris out for a month and a half and turning 32 in October, fans are left wondering what the future of the position is going to look like. There are a number of fantastic write-ups on who the next USWNT goalkeeper should be (Scott French's article on FourFourTwo lists a number of possible goalkeepers while Jessica Fletcher provides a more in-depth look at four rising stars) but there a few hurdles the USWNT needs to address first.


Get As Many Goalkeepers in As Possible

The biggest problem with the Hope Solo era is that it was only the Hope Solo era. Rarely did any other goalkeeper get on the field in the past fifteen years. It was so lopsided, that the USWNT just recently got back to having more than one goalkeeper under 30 with at least one cap.

It was encouraging to see Abby Smith's inclusion on the Scandinavia tour but to no surprise she was not granted an appearance on the field in either game. Instead Alyssa Naeher, who we know exactly what to expect as a goalkeeper, played both games. In the two game series with 25th ranked Russia back in April, Jane Campbell was subbed in for Ashlyn Harris during the 74th minute when the scoreline was 5-1. Even when the USWNT is mopping opponents, youngsters struggle to get off the bench.

Teams should strive for cohesiveness between their goalkeepers and backline but overprotecting the position, by playing only one goalkeeper, creates a glass ceiling for everyone. The starting goalkeeper becomes complacent while the backups realize they can not work themselves into the starting role.

Perhaps the best example of a team utilizing multiple goalkeepers correctly was in the most recent Copa America. Some fans were skeptical about the lack of cohesiveness in the defense but Mexico earned seven points in the three matches, topping Venezuela and Uruguay for first place. Even in a competitive tournament, Mexico had no issue rotating goalkeepers, conceding only two goals in the group stage.

An open net, when done properly, empowers the goalkeeper core as well as the rest of the team. It sends a message that the manager is looking for the best and isn't content with anything short of it. Not every American goalkeeper deserves a chance in goal, but currently there are too many goalkeepers who haven't been given a chance. For goalkeepers like Abby SmithHaley Kopmeyer and Adrianna Franch, they're constantly thought of as possible USWNT goalkeepers but we never really know because they're not given opportunities to prove themselves.


Stop Ignoring Goalkeepers in Europe

The USWNT has a thin history with Euro-based goalkeepers. The last two goalkeepers to earn a cap when playing in Europe were Hope Solo in 2005 and Saskia Webber in 1998. It says a lot about a goalkeeper who's willing to uproot from a comfortable place and push themselves to another level. The NWSL's limited roster spots offers only so much time for American goalkeepers yet Europe has a need of high level goalkeepers. While the the USWNT should want its players to continue to strive for the next level, they routinely ignore American goalkeepers playing abroad.

Despite offering aspects that the NWSL can't, Europe is understood to be a place void of National Team invites from fans and players alike. Katie Fraine expressed back in 2014 the unlikelihood of a call up in the past. "I believe being in Europe very strongly hurts my chances on getting a call up, especially considering that all of the players currently on the national team who were previously playing abroad have been brought back to the NWSL."

Libby Stout, when playing at Liverpool, echoed the same sentiment. "I do think that being overseas slightly affects my chances. I’m not being seen on a weekly or monthly basis so the odds are less."

For goalkeepers like Alyssa Giannetti and Michelle Betos in Norway or Adelaide Gay and Lindsey Harris in Iceland or Kelsey Brouwer in Cyprus or Audrey Baldwin in France, they're training in an environment where losing their job means having to leave a country. The USWNT needs to reward players for reaching a higher standard and not encourage them to become a backup in the NWSL. If playing in Europe was good enough for Ashlyn Harris (FCR 2001 Duisburg, Tyresö FF, 2012-13) and Alyssa Naeher (Turbine Potsdam, 2011-13), it's good enough for American goalkeepers in 2017.


Explore a "B" Team For Fringe Players

If players are stuck in a limbo of being untested but not quite USWNT-ready, a "B" team would be an easy fix. Essentially the equivalent of the USMNT's Camp Cupcake in the winter, the USWNT could organize a second team to place the players in question in an elevated environment. England's David James made a great case for a "B" team for England back in 2010. Specifically he points out an issue with late bloomers:

Otherwise, it seems, if you want to be successful in international football you had better do it while you’re young or miss out forever. As someone interested in coaching, I worry about an attitude that assumes if you haven’t done it already then you will never do it. That’s far too simplistic an approach and it says everything about this throwaway world we’re in: he’s had his chance, it didn’t work out so let’s get a new one. The B team can work as a vehicle to rejuvenate players who were in the frame at one point and are now out of it because of their age.
— David James

While a "B" team might not sellout stadiums, as James points out in the article, it gives players a chance to showcase themselves at an international level the NWSL can't offer. In turn, coaches are able to see who does and doesn't fit in a more intense and focused setting. 

The USWNT played 25 games last year, so finding opponents isn't the issue. And there's not a shortage of countries who wouldn't mind playing the USWNT's "B" team instead of the "A" team. Young players wouldn't have to worry about costing their club team points while late bloomers could finally get themselves out of limbo. Worst-case scenario is the late bloomers aren't good enough and it turns into a U23 team to give young players time on the field.

The US aren't strangers to unconventional methods with their national teams. The early 90's essentially created a "club USMNT" as MLS wasn't established yet so players trained solely with the national team. On the women's side, the 1999 World Cup winners were club-less, as the WUSA was still two years away from creation. The USSF found a solution for both set of players to make sure they were still getting games and developing along the way.

The goalkeeper position turned stale by not giving young goalkeepers a chance and now fans are left wringing their hands over the position's future. There are avenues to reviving the position, but sticking with the same one or two goalkeepers isn't the answer.

Top 40 Goalkeepers Under 24

There was only one goalkeeper in the 2016 edition of MLS's 24 Under 24, which was nice because sometimes there have been zero. So we'll take what we can get. 24 is typically not viewed as "young" for a field player but since goalkeepers take a little longer to develop, it's a fine gauge for them. Here are 40 American goalkeepers to keep an on over the next few years.

1. Ethan Horvath, 22 - Club Brugge (Belgium.1)
2. Jesse Gonzalez, 22 - FC Dallas (USA.1)
3. Zack Steffen, 22 - Columbus Crew (USA.1)
4. Abraham Romero, 19 - Pachuca (Mexico.1)
5. Eric Klenofsky, 22 - DC United (USA.1)
6. Richard Sanchez, 23 - Tampico Madero (Mexico.2)
7. Jeff Caldwell, 21 - Virginia (USA.N)
8. Will Pulisic, 19 - Dortmund (Germany.1)

Bill says: Well no surprise with the number one here. Typically if you get called up for a World Cup Qualifier as a 22 year old you're probably fairly decent. Gonzalez (still not cap-tied with Mexico, although most likely will be) and Steffen battle for the number two spot, depending on your preference. Both have shown positives and negatives and I wouldn't be surprised if Steffen outplayed Gonzalez at the end of the day. It's just too earlier to call it just yet. Romero has done well with Mexico's U20s in their World Cup run and could be a frustrating loss for the US in years to come. Klenofsky had surgery (MCL) at the end of April and his return date is unknown at this time. Pulisic is expected back at Duke this fall but is still currently with Dortmund's U19s. Theoretically he could sign back with Dortmund but there's no word of that yet. Lastly, Sanchez is a bit of an unknown. Mexican clubs haven't had the greatest track record when it comes to playing its youth goalkeepers but that doesn't necessarily mean he isn't developing. He was good at one point, but he's stayed hidden for the past couple years.


9. Alex Bono, 23 - Toronto FC (USA.1)
10. Alec Ferrell, 23 - Free Agent (None)
11. Wade Hamilton, 22 - Portland Timbers II (USA.3)
12. Andrew Tarbell, 23 - San Jose Earthquakes (USA.1)
13. Kevin Silva, 19 - UCLA (USA.N)
14. Bill Heavner, 23 - Minnesota United FC (USA.1)
15. Paul Blanchette, 23 - PEPO Lappeenranta (Finland.3)
16. Logan Ketterer, 23 - Columbus Crew (USA.1)

Bill says: A number of twenty-three year olds in this group. Bono is taking full advantage of his time with Toronto. Ferrell is has not technically signed with Minnesota United despite being drafted in January, after needing to sit for half the season, if not the entire year. Tarbell played only 45 minutes last year and two matches in the USL this year. For someone so highly touted, it's odd San Jose can't find him more playing time. Kevin Silva returns to UCLA for his sophomore year, after taking the starting spot from a returning senior last year. Heavner keeps the goalkeeper pool alive and is stationed with Minnesota for the time being. Blanchette has started four of six games for third place PEPO Lappeenranta.


17. Ben Lundgaard, 21 - Virginia Tech (USA.N)
18. David Greczek, 22 - Sporting Kansas City (USA.1)
19. JT Marcinkowski, 20 - Georgetown (USA.N)
20. Justin Vom Steeg, 20 - Fortuna Düsseldorf (Germany.2)
21. Paul Christensen, 21 - Portland (USA.N)
22. Carlos dos Santos, 16 - Benfica (Portugal.1)
23. Bobby Edwards, 21 - Monmouth (USA.N)
24. Parker Siegfried, 20 - Ohio State (USA.N)

Bill says: Lundgaard is spending this summer with the Red Bulls' PDL squad, who are known for producing standout goalkeepers, and has already impressed RBNY fans. JT Marcinkowski currently sits second to Klinsmann with the U20s but Georgetown fans are anixous to see the sophomore goalkeeper lead their team back to the NCAA tournament. Justin Vom Steeg is interested in resigning with Fortuna Düsseldorf but is currently out of contract. Paul Christensen has notched two starts with the Sounders U23s (PDL), allowing just one goal in the two games. Dos Santos was the backup goalkeeper during the U17s World Cup Qualifiers and is back with Benfica for the time being. Bobby Edwards joins Lundgaard with the U23 squad after transferring to Monmouth University while Siegfried spends his summer with NPSL side Asheville City Soccer Club.


25. Benjamin Machini, 20 - Barakaldo CF (Spain.3)
26. Matt Turner, 23 - New England Revolution (USA.1)
27. Connor Sparrow, 23 - Real Monarchs (USA.3)
28. Tim Dobrowolski, 23 - Louisville City FC (USA.3)
29. Eric Lopez, 18 - Los Angeles Galaxy II (USA.3)
30. Mike Lansing, 23 - Aalborg BK (Denmark.1)
31. Adrian Zendejas, 21 - Sporting Kansas City (USA.1)
32. Kyle Morton, 23 - Rochester Rhinos (USA.3)

Bill says: Machini finished his loan with Barakaldo and will return to RCD Mallorca. Tim Dobrowolski has already earned two save of the week awards (first and second) within USL play. Eric Lopez made his first professional start last month and while the 4-0 drumming to the OC Blues wasn't ideal, he rebounded well with a 2-1 win against the Red Bulls a week later. Lansing earned three starts for Danish premier club Aalborg BK, who finished 8th in the table. Morton also made his first professional start with the Rochester Rhinos in a comfortable 3-0 US Open Cup start.


33. Andrew Shepherd, 22 - Western Michigan (USA.N)
34. Todd Morton, 21 - Delaware (USA.N)
35. Mike Kirk, 23 - Rio Grande Valley FC (USA.3)
36. Michael Nelson, 22 - SMU (USA.N)
37. Evan Louro, 21 - New York Red Bulls II (USA.3)
38. Kyle Dal Santo, 22 - SIUE (USA.N)
39. Austin Pack, 23 - Puerto Rico FC (USA.2)
40. Jonathan Klinsmann, 20 - California (USA.N)

Bill says: Shepherd (Michigan Bucks), Morton (Ocean City Nor'easters), and Dal Santo (St. Louis FC U23s) are putting their summers to good use in the PDL. Evan Louro has been a polarizing figure over the past few years. A lackluster season with Michigan last year didn't inspire confidence but he's toned up and has taken his role at RBNY more seriously. His ceiling is up to him, as he carries a ton of untapped potential still. Jonathan Klinsmann received his fair share of backlash after a disappointing opener to the U20 World Cup, which I wrote about here.

Cases For the Six Goalkeepers on the 2017 Soccer Hall of Fame Ballot

Last week the National Soccer Hall of Fame released their nominees for the 2017 class. The ballot contains six hopeful goalkeepers, most notably 1999 World Cup legend Briana Scurry, looking to join the ten goalkeepers already enshrined in the Hall.

The Hall has an odd history with goalkeepers. Originally they were quick to induct goalkeepers, seeing seven goalkeepers inducted over the first few decades. This created a nice representation of the top goalkeepers in a variety of generations. However after 1976, goalkeepers struggled to make the cut. In the last 43 years, only three goalkeepers have been inducted that would otherwise be largely forgotten. Although while goalkeepers were a hot commodity at one point, voters simply haven't known what to do with them since.

Part of the reason for low goalkeeper numbers is due to, somewhat ironically, the lack of organization throughout the Hall's history. The 1960s saw a grand total of five players make the Hall of Fame, for example. Another reason is the voting process has recently pushed away from valuing club performance and almost exclusively leaning on the number of caps a player gained. Clearly this makes it tough for goalkeepers, as caps are harder to come by for them, but also any non-American players struggle to have the right eye candy voters want.

The Hall did a wonderful job of including top goalkeepers from multiple generations but now it's resorted to more a checklist for the most capped players. If the Baseball Hall of Fame can enshrine a pitcher from every year of MLB, it seems reasonable that they can put one goalkeeper from each decade in the Soccer Hall of Fame.

Since there are a million different ways to set a standard for the Hall of Fame, let's move on to the six nominees looking to make the cut.


1. Briana Scurry

Does she belong?: Without question. She's the 1999 World Cup Champion with the iconic penalty save in the shootout final to set up the win. Plus, goalkeepers with 173 caps and two Olympic gold medals don't come along every day. If she's not good enough, no goalkeeper is. It's already inexcusable that one of - if not the - premier goalkeeper in the world has been passed on for three years.

Outlook: Hard to say. In 2015 she just missed the cutoff with a handful of votes but she's been a "shoo-in" since her first year. (I couldn't find 2016 voting numbers.) There's not a very clear reason for why she hasn't been inducted outside of a poor voting system.


2/3. Kevin Hartman and Joe Cannon

Do they belong? Let me first stay that I am aware they are two different goalkeepers with their own careers. Clearly one chewed gum while playing in goal and the other did not. That said, they're in the same boat. Regardless that they have a combined 758 games (over 22 full seasons) and three MLS Goalkeeper of the Year awards, voters love the USMNT. Hartman and Cannon only combined for seven caps so if international performance is the bar to clear, they simply don't meet the criteria.

However it's worth noting that their short international careers weren't due to poor performances but simply a crowded field. Legends like Meola, Friedel, Keller, and Howard managed to keep a number of MLS goalkeepers at bay. While they rarely were featured with the USMNT, Hartman and Cannon set a standard of consistency in MLS that has rarely been matched since their retirement.

Voters need to consider what it would have taken for Hartman and Cannon to become worthy of selection. If it's earning more caps in the career by unseating more than one of the top ten goalkeepers in the world, that seems like an unreasonable bar to set for players.

Outlook: It'll be at least five years if not closer to ten. Their best bet may actually be landing with the veteran committee, where they only need 50% approval of votes, not two-thirds.


4. Pat Onstad

Does he belong? Onstad returns for his third year but the goalkeeper is no stranger to sticking around past everyone's expectations. The Canadian legend was playing everywhere he could before MLS came around. While he only has 57 caps for the Canadian National Team, Onstad's Hall of Fame bid is solely based on his play in MLS. He's one of nine goalkeepers to earn 200 starts despite being 28 when MLS finally started up, playing all the way until age 43. For a goalkeeper who obviously couldn't impact the USMNT, he's one of the most influential Canadian soccer players on the American game.

Outlook? He didn't gain 15% of votes in 2015 and I think a mostly American-voting base isn't too fond of voting for Canadians over their own. My bet is he ends up on the veteran committee at some point and gets in then.


5. Mary Harvey

Does she belong? Out of all the American goalkeepers from the early 90s, she had as good as career as any of them. Unfortunately it seems that playing for the USWNT just isn't as respected as playing for the men's team. Harvey earned 27 caps, only eight behind Arnie Mausser (2003 inductee), placing her sixth all-time with the USWNT. She played overseas when playing domestically wasn't an option, something very few American players did at the time.

Harvey was the number one goalkeeper for the early 90s and started for the USWNT in their first World Cup win (1991). If a goalkeeper on the men's side earned on 27 caps but was the starting goalkeeper in their first World Cup win, I would imagine he'd have a strong chance of getting in.

Outlook? She only received 19% of votes in 2004 and wasn't in the top five for the veteran's vote in 2015. If Scurry can't make it, Harvey's chances are most likely close to zero.


6. Shep Messing

Does he belong? I don't think voters have a good answer for wondering what a Hall of Fame career would look like for a player in the middle of the NASL collapsing. For someone that did anything he could to continue playing until age 38, his career is easy to forget given the time.

Messing never earned a cap for the national team, which is fairly damning for nearly every Hall of Fame voter. But realistically Messing played in an era when the USMNT didn't mean anything. If the 1978 Cosmos team played the USMNT at the time, it'd likely be a toss up. So it's hard to criticize a player for not being a part of an organization when it didn't take itself seriously enough to warrant participation.

Messing is probably the most iconic NASL goalkeeper and it would be nice to have another goalkeeper from a forgotten era, which there is precedent for when looking at the first inducted goalkeepers.

Outlook? Similar to Harvey, he hasn't had the support in the past and there appear to be more favorable names for the veteran's committee than Messing. He did earn 39% in 2015 (needed 50% to get in) but it was still fifth overall and they only approve one per year with the veteran's vote. At this point, if he hasn't made it yet he most likely never will.


Goalkeepers in the National Soccer Hall of Fame
bios taken from

Peter “Pete” Renzulli (1951) - Goalkeeper who played for a string of American Soccer League clubs in the 1920s and won three U.S. Open Cup titles. Renzulli played in the original ASL from 1922 to 1930, for Todd Shipyards, Paterson, Indiana Flooring, New York Nationals and New York Giants. He won Open Cup titles with Robins Dry Dock in 1921, Paterson in 1923 and New York Nationals in 1928.

George Tintle (1952) - Goalkeeper who was the first famous goalie in American soccer history, making Scandinavian tours with the U.S. National Team in 1916, Bethlehem Steel in 1919 and a St. Louis all-star team in 1920. Tintle played for a string of different teams during his career, including Harrison AA in the first two seasons of the original American Soccer League. 

Jimmy Douglas (1953) - Goalkeeper who played for the United States in both the 1924 Olympic Games and the 1930 World Cup. Douglas also played nine seasons in the original American Soccer League, for eight different teams. He played nine full internationals for the United States between 1924 and 1930, including both of the U.S. games at the 1924 Olympics in Paris and all three of the U.S. games at the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay.

Stanley Chesney (1966) - Goalkeeper who played 17 seasons in the American Soccer League for the New York Americans. He won an ASL championship with the Americans in 1936 and the U.S. Open Cup in 1937. Although he never played for the full U.S. National Team, he gained the nickname “The International Man” for his frequent appearance for ASL selections against foreign teams, including three games against the touring Scottish all-stars in 1935 and 1939.

Gene Olaff (1971) - Goalkeeper who played for the Brooklyn Hispano team that won the American Soccer League-U.S. Open Cup double in 1943 and took the Open Cup again a year later. Olaff, who played for Hispano from 1941 to 1953, was the premier American goalkeeper of the 1940s but played only one game for the U.S. Men’s National Team, which went 10 years without a game because of World War II.

Frank Borghi (1976) -  Goalkeeper who is often considered the top contributor to the United States’ 1-0 upset of England in the 1950 World Cup. That game was one of nine full internationals he played for the United States between 1949 and 1954, games that included three in the World Cup and five more in World Cup qualifying. Borghi won numerous honors with several club teams in St. Louis, including winning U.S. Open Cup titles in 1948 and 1950 with Simpkins.

Gino Gard (1976) - Goalkeeper who was a member of the United States squad at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. Gard, who was born in Italy and whose name was Gardassanich before he moved to the United States, played from 1949 to 1959 for Slovak of the National Soccer League of Chicago. He reached the National Amateur Cup final in 1953 with Slovak.

Arnie Mausser (2003) - Goalkeeper who played 10 seasons in the North American Soccer League and was the first-choice ’keeper for the U.S. Men’s National Team through most of the NASL era. Mausser played 35 full internationals for the United States between 1975 and 1985, including 11 World Cup qualifiers. He played for seven different NASL teams and was the only American chosen as a first-team NASL all-star in that league’s last nine seasons.

Tony Meola (2012) - Goalkeeper who was captain of the United States team in the 1994 World Cup. Meola played 100 full internationals for the United States between 1988 and 2000, including seven games at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups and five World Cup qualifiers in 1989 and 2000. Meola played 11 seasons in MLS, winning both a league title and the MLS most valuable player award with the Kansas City Wizards in 2000.

Kasey Keller (2015) - Goalkeeper who started for the 1989 U20 World Cup team that earned a US-best ever 4th place finish. He would go on to earn 102 caps with the senior team from 1990 to 2007 and appear on four USMNT World Cup rosters. Keller was one of the first American players to have a successful and lengthy career abroad, playing for Millwall, Leicester City, Rayo Vallecano, Tottenham, and Borussia Mönchengladbach before returning to the Seattle Sounders for his final years, earning the 2011 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award.


A full list of the Hall of Fame's members can be found here.

Is Jonathan Klinsmann the Right Goalkeeper for the U20s?

Early Monday morning, the U20s kicked off their World Cup run with a dramatic 3-3 tie, leaning heavily on a 94th minute volley from Luca de la Torre. Despite the late game heroics, many pointed to Jonathan Klinsmann as the weak link of the team after conceding three goals. (Read BigSoccer's game day thread to hear fans go from awe to disgust in a matter of seconds.) There are many fans calling for Klinsmann's benching, while some seem to have been harboring their displeasure with the goalkeeper for some time.

Let's take a closer look at his performance before we dive into who should be the starting goalkeeper.


First Goal

You know a situation is bad when your main defender is in the process of starting his first of two somersaults. It's a tricky situation for Klinsmann because if he stays home, maybe he should have gone and vice versa. In these situations, the decision comes second to the execution. There's a right and wrong way to attack and there's a right and wrong way to stay back. It's not realistic to expect goalkeepers to know how everything is going to play out on 1v1s. Ultimately, they must make a decision and execute it as best they can.

Klinsmann decides to step to the ball and his approach is originally thought out well. He steps to the striker (second picture) as a touch on the ball is made, which is the exact time a goalkeeper should step. The longest amount of time a striker has before touching the ball is right after his preceding touch. The longer a goalkeeper waits to step after a touch, the closer the striker is to his next touch.

Building off the earlier point, Klinsmann's final execution is lacking. He makes up his mind very early to throw out a studs up one-footed tackle for an attacker who is going across Klinsmann's body. If Klinsmann throws his hands out low to his left, there's a high probability he knocks the ball away.

Additionally, Klinsmann is asking for a red card here. When accessing a referee's call on a play, a goalkeeper must limit the possibility of what a referee could call against them. Klinsmann does not receive a card on the play (personally the correct call) but it's very easy to see how a referee would give a red card to Klinsmann. Perhaps the touch doesn't lead to an open teammate and the striker goes to ground. We've all seen referees award red cards for similar plays and Klinsmann doesn't protect himself with an exposed one-footed slide that gets close to a scissor tackle.

It's an undesirable situation, but Klinsmann doesn't help himself as much as he could. A hands-led tackle likely stops the first goal and keeps the scoreline level.


Second Goal

This is a great example of how 1v1 situations can be drastically different from one to the next. The Ecuadorian striker takes a long touch but because of the defender staying in the picture (despite ultimately losing out) Klinsmann doesn't have a clear road to attack the ball. If the defender were to have an opportunity to clear the ball but only receive a tackle from Klinsmann, the chaos could very well backfire on the American defense.

Klinsmann's decision to stay home isn't necessarily wrong, but his execution is problematic again. He creeps up on the play in order to be ready to pounce on an extra touch but inadvertently puts him in a version of "no man's land". He is too far forward to give himself time to react but not far enough forward to cut down the angle to any real value.

Even more concerning, Klinsmann's feet go cold at the exact wrong time. Notice in pictures 3-6 how slow he is to move. The ball is not struck far from his body (the bending shot hits close to the middle of the net) yet his feet's loss of movement stops him from moving his upper body in time.

His weight is also too far back. (Picture 4 looks like he's sitting in an invisible chair.) The only movement he can do is a hopeful leg thrown forward, which is entirely the wrong motion needed. His body falls backwards, into his weight.

I'd like to see Klinsmann stay a step back here to give himself more time to react but the bigger issue is his feet. If his heels rest on the play (aka "cold feet") he makes the play ten times harder on himself. His upper body can move quicker if his feet are ready to spring but he's cemented himself in place. For a shot not hit far away from his body, it's a play that a goalkeeper of Klinsmann's caliber should be able to do more on.


Breakaway Save

For a game that was 2-2 with only 30 minutes left in it, it's hard to be critical of any save. Klinsmann forces the shooter to a take a shot into his body and the US were let off the hook for bad defending. However there are some worrying signs on the play.

The offside trap fails, as always, because of one defender. Unfortunately Klinsmann gives no verbal warning of the sneaky striker and appears to have no idea he's even there. Notice how Klinsmann goes to collect a long through ball only to realize there is a perfectly timed striker heading towards goal. (Second picture, Klinsmann is correcting his wrong step with his right foot. The misstep is displayed better in video.)

It's a fine save, but Klinsmann needs to keep an eye on backside runs to limit chances on goal. A goalkeeper should look to be preventative when dealing with shots and only have to make the saves when previous attempts of communication have failed.


Third Goal

Finally we arrive at Klinsmann's worst mistake. Needless to say it's a mistake that Klinsmann will be criticized for some time and honestly there is no protection for Klinsmann here. Some may argue that he shouldn't receive the back pass or that his left back should have opened up more for him, but the error is solely on Klinsmann. Players constantly receive undesirable situations but their redemption is rooted in if they made the best with what they could. Klinsmann, in contrast, makes a bad situation even worse three times over.

First, Klinsmann's starting touch is across his body with right foot (second picture). The awkward trap loses time for Klinsmann and sends out a loud alarm to defending attackers that the goalkeeper can't play with his left foot. A confident left footed trap dissolves the situation, despite little help from his teammates.

Klinsmann's second mistake is found in his following touch. Recognizing that he has no realistic options and is surrounded by yellow shirts, he must place the ball into the stands. Even if this results in a corner kick for Ecuador, at the very least the US could set up to protect the goal. Instead, Klinsmann tries to take another touch to round the first defender to little success.

Lastly, after Klinsmann has gifted the ball back into the opposition's possession, he panics in retreating to the goal. There is no time for Klinsmann to achieve better positioning. He must stand his ground and do what he can from there. The seven or eight backwards steps transform Klinsmann into the equivalent of a traffic cone. The shot is not struck far from Klinsmann (see last pictures) and if he does not backpedal, or at least limits the number of steps he takes, he can likely make the save. 

Perhaps the most frustrating part, Klinsmann looks completely defeated after the goal. His teammates already know he has messed up - everyone in the stadium knows in - there is no need to confirm a sense of disappointment in the play. There will be plenty of time to feel sorry about the mistake after the game. In the middle of turmoil, a team needs their goalkeeper to get them back on track, not mope alongside them.


Who Should Start for the U20s?

In true USYNT-form, we're left with one seasoned goalkeeper and a handful of untested backups. JT Marcinkowski has seen one game with the U20s in a throw away match, so it's hard to say how he would perform. For those who have watched him at Georgetown, he's performed very well but it's not necessarily a 1-to-1 transition to the U20s.

Ultimately there is a lot of information fans don't have. How does the player chemistry differ from Klinsmann to Marcinkowski? How did Klinsmann respond to the team after the game? In the next practice? Was the US's third goal a rally from the team's respect for Klinsmann? Has Marcinkowski put himself in a position with the team to confidently take over the starting spot? What do the coaches know about the goalkeepers that we don't? There are several questions we just don't have the answers for.

There's a strong possibility Klinsmann will be benched for the second game, but calling for it is admittedly based off a slice of information. Perhaps the bigger problem is that Marcinkowski hasn't had the opportunity to show his value. If we're worried that Klinsmann won't give his teammates confidence in the back, Marcinkowski's lack of game time doesn't solve that problem.