Three Underrated Premier League Goalkeepers

cover photo from Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

It’s fairly well known by this point that English Premier League is filled with great goalkeepers, including the likes of de Gea, Ederson, Alisson, Cech, Kepa, and Pickford. However there are only so many headlines to go around, meaning a number of goalkeepers are left out in the cold when it comes to coverage. Some don’t deserve much more attention but here are three who are not only proving why the EPL is the best goalkeeping league in the world but why they deserve a little more face time.



Rui Patricio

stoke-city-v-wolverhampton-wanderers-pre-season-friendly-5b6d77f74e17c8010f000001.jpg

Photo from 90min.com


Patricio would likely be getting a little more press if it weren’t for Alisson and Kepa’s transfer fees that dwarfed the news of Patricio’s arrival with Wolverton. Surprisingly enough, the lack of coverage isn’t from an uncompelling storyline. For starters, Patricio had a strong World Cup run this summer, reaching the round of 16 before being knocked out by Uruguay. It was a nice change of pace for Patricio, who at the time had recently requested his contract to be terminated with Portuguese club side Sporting CP in the midst of a truly bizarre set of altercations, included fans attacking Sporting players and staff.

Early into the season, the Portuguese international has successfully led Wolves to the top half of the table. Through eight starts, seven matches have been determined by one goal or less, yet Wolves have picked up at least a point in each of those seven. Saves on long-range strikes against Raheem Sterling and free kick denials on Fred are exactly why recently promoted Wolverton will avoid an expected relegation battle.



Alex McCarthy

It’s not an easy life being the goalkeeper for one of the worst defenses in the league but McCarthy is doing what he can for a club that was one of the front runners to see relegation at the start of the season. McCarthy possesses a lightness and mobility not found in most Premier League goalkeepers, which pairs well with his scrappy approach to the position. Unfortunately, it hasn’t mattered too much as Southampton are conceding multiple 1v1s and shots within the 18 every weekend. Despite a recent strong performance against Wolves, it was another familiar defeat for Southampton.

McCarthy could admittedly use some work on his 1v1 situations as his current approach hasn’t yielded much success this season. So far he’s managed to hold off Angus Gunn, the Manchester City product who arrived at Southampton on a £10 million transfer fee, but after conceding eight goals in the last three games, McCarthy might have to remind the manager why he deserves the number one spot.



Lukasz Fabianski

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Photo from Newham Recorder


A 33-year-old goalkeeper is never a sexy pick but the Polish international - who is still playing for his country as of last weekend - has rebounded from four straight losses with strong performances against Everton, Chelsea, and Manchester United. He’s allowed three goals in the last four Premier League games, including a shutout with some key saves against Chelsea.

Fabianski is a no-nonsense goalkeeper who is willing to fight in the trenches to make a save. Perhaps he’s not the most agile goalkeeper but he more than makes up for it with his determination to keep the ball out of the net. It’s unclear how many years Fabianski has left in him but as of right now, he’s keeping stride with the best the league has to offer.

The World's Top Goalkeepers (2018)

Top 50

The top 50 is based on current form, for both club and country.

1. Marc ter Stegen, Germany (Barcelona) - 26
2. Keylor Navas, Costa Rica (Real Madrid) - 31
3. Jan Oblak, Slovenia (Atlético Madrid) - 25
4. David de Gea, Spain (Manchester United) - 27
5. Thibaut Courtois, Belgium (Real Madrid) - 26
6. Jasper Cillessen, Netherlands (Barcelona) - 29
7. Gianluigi Buffon, Italy (PSG) - 40
8. Ederson, Brazil (Manchester City) - 25
9. Rui Patrício, Portugal (Wolverhampton) - 30
10. Manuel Neuer, Germany (Bayern Munich) - 32

One to watch: There are a number of great storylines within the top ten. How will de Gea respond to his lackluster World Cup performances? Will Barcelona be able to make Cillessen happy? How will Real Madrid handle both Navas and Courtois? But one goalkeeper that has flown under the radar is Wolves’ Patrício. The gauge of his success for the club will strictly be tried to Wolverhampton’s ability to stay afloat. Coming off an impressive World Cup run, Patrício has the “big save” in his repertoire, as he showed against Morocco and his new club will be expecting more of the same. Wolves currently sit ninth in the table but if their zero goal differential holds up, Patrício will surely be called into action a number of times before the end of the spring.


11. Yann Sommer, Switzerland (Borussia Mönchengladbach) - 29
12. Alisson, Brazil (Liverpool) - 25
13. Kepa Arrizabalaga, Spain (Chelsea) - 23
14. Fernando Pacheco, Spain (Alavés) - 26
15. Salvatore Sirigu, Italy (Torino) - 31
16. Roman Bürki, Switzerland (Borussia Dortmund) - 27
17. Pau López, Spain (Betis) - 23
18. Petr Cech, Czech Republic (Arsenal) - 36
19. Ron-Robert Zieler, Germany (VfB Stuttgart) - 29
20. Sven Ulreich, Germany (Bayern Munich) - 29

One to watch: Arsenal specifically brought in Leno to replace Cech and while the veteran goalkeeper has held off Leno so far, at some point the switch is going to be made. Fans and pundits have been critical of Cech’s questionable passing ability, with plenty of validity to their complaints. Cech is in the final year of his contract but Unai Emery hasn’t given us a clear path moving forward. He’s no stranger to pressure but Cech is playing for his starting spot every week and will likely be hearing about it his backup for the rest of the season. It’s a tough place to be for a goalkeeper who’s trying to squeeze the last bit of top-level goalkeeping out of his career.

21. Bernd Leno, Germany (Arsenal) - 26
22. Etrit Berisha, Albania (Atalanta) - 29
23. Lukasz Fabianski, Poland (West Ham United) - 33
24. Hugo Lloris, France (Tottenham Hotspur) - 31
25. Samir Handanovic, Slovenia (Inter) - 34
26. Lukas Hradecky, Finland (Bayer Leverkusen) - 28
27. Thomas Strakosha, Albania (Lazio) - 23
28. Igor Akinfeev, Russia (CSKA Moscow) - 32
29. Kasper Schmeichel, Denmark (Leicester City) - 31
30. Marwin Hitz, Switzerland (Dortmund) - 31

One to watch: Albania isn’t typically known for their elite goalkeeping but Berisha and Strakosha have done well to put their homeland on the map for Serie A fans. After seeing a new level of transfer fees for goalkeepers this summer, Strakosha is surely one of the next few to have his name tied to an eight-figure transfer fee. The twenty-three-year-old is everything coaches want in a goalkeeper. His impressive frame and ability to cover the goalmouth will catch anyone’s eye but his mobility is unique for goalkeepers of his stature. Whether it’s going post-to-post, getting up or down, or closing space on a 1v1, Strakosha has the wheels to cover the ground.

31. Martin Dubravka, Slovakia (Newcastle United) - 29
32. Fernando Muslera, Uruguay (Galatasaray) - 32
33. David Ospina, Colombia (Napoli) - 30
34. Adrián, Spain (West Ham United) - 31
35. Anthony Lopes, Portugal (Lyon) - 27
36. Alphonse Areola, France (PSG) - 25
37. Jiri Pavlenka, Czech Republic (Werder Bremen) - 26
38. Ralf Fährmann, Germany (FC Schalke 04) - 29
39. Bono, Morocco (Girona) - 27
40. Marco Sportiello, Italy (Frosinone) - 26

One to watch: Alphonse Areola is best known for his reaction saves, which there are many, but as Areola encountered recently against Liverpool, top-level goalkeeping requires another layer of perfection. Whether it’s utilizing efficient lateral movement or handling a cleat to the midsection, Areola has his work cut out for him to keep Buffon on the bench. If Areola can find more consistency in uncomfortable situations, he may not only tie down his starting spot with PSG but also with the French national team.

41. Kevin Trapp, Germany (Eintracht Frankfurt) - 27
42. Asmir Begovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bournemouth) - 31
43. Wojciech Szczesny, Poland (Juventus) - 28
44. Orestis Karnezis, Greece (Napoli) - 33
45. Mattia Perin, Italy (Juventus) - 25
46. Jordan Pickford, England (Everton) - 24
47. Antonio Adán, Spain (Atletico Madrid) - 31
48. Fabri, Spain (Fulham) - 30
49. Pepe Reina, Spain (AC Milan) - 36
50. Tomas Vaclik, Czech Republic (Sevilla FC) - 29

One to watch: Similar to Petr Cech, Wojciech Szczesny has a younger goalkeeper quietly waiting in the wings behind him. Perin is a bit wild in goal but Szczesny isn’t exactly known for steadiness either, struggling to handle 1v1s in past seasons. It’ll be a tightly contested goalkeeping battle that could see multiple changes throughout the course of the season. Szczesny will need to keep errors to a minimum and have a positive Champions League run to in order to keep his starting spot.

Top 20 Under 24

The top 20 under 24 is based off a prediction of who will be the top goalkeepers by the time of the 2022 World Cup for goalkeepers currently under 24 years of age.

1. Kepa Arrizabalaga, Spain (Chelsea) - 23
2. Pau López, Spain (Betis) - 23
3. Thomas Strakosha, Albania (Lazio) - 23
4. Alban Lafont, France (Fiorentina) - 19
5. Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy (AC Milan) - 19
6. Fabian Bredlow, Germany (1. FC Nürnberg) - 23
7. Mike Maignan, France (Lille) - 23
8. André Onana, Cameroon (Ajax) - 22
9. Simone Scuffet, Italy (Udinese) - 22
10. Emil Audero, Italy (Sampdoria) - 21

One to watch: It’s not often a twenty-three-year-old simply hops into the starting spot of a Champions League team but that’s the level Kepa brings to the table. Similar to de Gea’s arrival with Manchester United, Kepa is surely going to be reamed for his lack of aerial prowess. He’s already looked a little shaken on a couple of balls into the six-yard box a few weeks into the season. There’s a lot of pressure for Kepa to prove his worth after what Chelsea went through to bring him in, with something as little as Kepa’s fluency in English likely to become a talking point in magazines. Kepa may have some glaring errors this year but de Gea has displayed a good blueprint on how to adjust to tough crosses. If Kepa can impress fans in other parts of the game, they may be more forgiving in his first season. If not, Chelsea could be looking for a quick fix to fix the situation.

11. Dominik Livakovic, Croatia (Dinamo Zagreb) - 23
12. Marvin Schwäbe, Germany (Brondby IF) - 23
13. Boris Radunović, Serbia (Cremonese) - 22
14. Mouez Hassen, Tunisia (Nice) - 23
15. Runar Alex Runarsson, Iceland (Dijon) - 23
16. Rubén Blanco, Spain (Celta) - 23
17. Alex Meret, Italy (Napoli) - 21
18. Denis Shcherbitski, Belarus (BATE Borisov) - 22
19. Adrian Semper, Croatia (Chievo Verona) - 20
20. Mile Svilar, Belgium (Benfica) - 19

One to watch: Some may have missed Hassen’s World Cup performance as the Tunisian goalkeeper injured his shoulder just eleven minutes into the first match, prematurely ending his tournament run. Despite the shortened performance, Hassen managed to make two goal-denying saves and would have surely had the save of the tournament had a rebound not found its way back in goal. For American readers, Hassen has a number of similarities to Nick Rimando. Both undersized, they implement a scrambling style to get from point A to point B. A little erratic, both live and die by their mobility and have the ability to produce jaw-dropping saves.

Cover photo belongs to Omni Sport

Ten Possible Goalkeepers for the 2019 U20 World Cup

cover photo belongs to US Soccer

The 2019 U20 World Cup kicks off in Poland next spring but the US's journey through qualification starts in two months, with the first game on November 1st. And thanks to a more expansive approach to the goalkeeping position, USYNTs have seen a variety of talented goalkeepers come through camps over the past few years. With qualification just around the corner, let's survey the ten likeliest goalkeepers we could see in the fold for the U20s.

 

1. Justin Garces (UCLA) - The U17 World Cup veteran leads the pack. Garces has been the number one choice for the US for the last two years and there are no signs of anything changing. After training with Atlanta United this summer, Garces is currently sitting behind sophomore goalkeeper Cole Martinez at UCLA. Playing second fiddle isn’t ideal for a starter going into World Cup qualifying but Garces isn’t one to let his skills get rusty just because he’s not a number one. For a goalkeeper who will likely not even finish his four years at UCLA, Garces will undoubtedly be ready to play this November.

 

2. Brady Scott (FC Köln) - It’s been a while since an American goalkeeper has done well in Germany. Despite the lack of success, Brady Scott and Jonathan Klinsmann are holding their own in an intensely competitive setting. Over the last month and a half, Scott has earned four starts for FC Köln’s reserve side, allowing four goals in four games. It's hard to describe Scott’s “style” as it feels fairly undefined in a lot of ways (perhaps the result of Scott developing in two different goalkeeping environments). He isn’t particularly flashy, but he’s not slow. He’s not aggressive, but he’s not passive. He did well getting low on a few saves in his most recent game against SC Verl, but it’s also a part of his job to make those plays. At the end of the day, if he can be a consistent, stable force in net for the U20s, it'd be hard to ask for more from him.

  photo from  Bundesliga.com

photo from Bundesliga.com

3. Eric Lopez (Los Angeles Galaxy II) - Lopez’s stock has probably dropped a tad since this time last year. Lopez’s last two wins for LAGII came in September 2018 and August 2017. Admittedly, LAGII is a development side and not a team that strings together large win streaks. In spite of this, more should be expected from Lopez thus far. It isn’t easy when you’re in goal for one of the leakiest defenses but Lopez too frequently is caught overthinking a situation. If he can limit hesitations, sort out his feet in tight situations, and find a good run of form, he could not only contend for a roster spot but also the starting one as well.

 

4. Trey Muse (Indiana University) - After allowing only seven goals in 25 games last year - posting an unheard of 90.3% save percentage in his freshman year - Muse returns in goal after trailing in the Netherlands this summer. In the early stages of his sophomore year, Muse currently rides a three-game shutout streak as Indiana is the favorite in the Big Ten and on track to contend for another national title. If Muse can continue his success, #Q49 might quickly turn into #Q410.

 

5. CJ dos Santos (Benfica) - Dos Santos was one of the three goalkeepers for the last U17 World Cup roster but there’s a decent chance being overseas has removed him from the limelight of receiving a call-up for qualifying games. While Scott is earning first-team starts, dos Santos sits sandwiched between a number of Portuguese national team goalkeepers in Benfica’s youth ranks. So where dos Santos may not be earning as many headlines, he could very well take a similar route as Brad Friedel did, gradually grinding his way towards the top.

 

6. Brandon Austin (Tottenham) - The lanky goalkeeper relies heavily on his positioning and reactions, rarely daring to roam upfield. Time will tell how he completely develops but so far it’s been working, just recently having a positive showing in a 2-1 loss to Arsenal’s U23s. Perhaps the biggest question marks that come along with Austin’s game is with his dual citizenship. Austin was called into an English U19 camp back in April and the young goalkeeper’s eligibility to play for America is rumored to be in question.

 

7. Alex Budnik (Dartmouth) - Budnik has been a mainstay in USYNTs for the past few years, including making the 2017 U17 World Cup roster. Budnik hasn’t started for Dartmouth this season, but Dartmouth has conceded five goals in two games with two different goalkeepers. If the defensive woes continue, the freshman could easily see himself starting the Big Green and prove why he should be included on the U20 roster.

 

8. Quantrell Jones (UMBC) - Jones is one of, if not the, largest goalkeeper on the list. At 6’3” and 230 pounds, the DC United academy product is more of the traditional cut when it comes to classic USYNT goalkeepers. He's strong, with a solid frame, and quick reactions. While Jones has been in and out of camps with various USYNT, Jones is outside looking in with the U20s going forward. If Jones can crack the starting spot at UMBC, perhaps he’ll grab Ramos’ head, but until then we probably won’t hear from him again until he’s an upperclassman.

 

9. Johan Penaranda (Pittsburgh) - 2018 has been an eventful year for Penaranda. In February, he de-committed from the Naval Academy, announcing he’d be attending the University of Pittsburgh this fall. In the summer he won the U19 DA playoffs with NYCFC and followed up the trophy-finish with earning the starting spot for the Panthers. He hasn’t been exceptionally successful this early in but there’s still some time to wow Ramos into reminding him why he deserves another call-up.

 photo belongs to NYCFC

photo belongs to NYCFC

10. Gabe Rosario (Huddersfield) - Admittedly Rosario’s tenure overseas hasn’t been stellar, notching just one point in five games and allowing 14 goals in the span for Reading’s U18 squad. But after watching what Rosario brings to the table, he holds his own when playing for one of the worst defenses in the league. He's quick and fights for the save, even if the scoreline is lopsided against his team. Rosario has since moved to Huddersfield where it looks like he’ll mostly play backup this season but the understated goalkeeper has an opportunity in front of him few goalkeepers his age even get a chance at.

NCAA Preseason Goalkeeper Rankings - Men's 2018

cover photo from University of Delaware

Seniors

1. Todd Morton (Delaware) - 22
2. Bobby Edwards (Mount St. Mary's) - 23
3. Rashid Nuhu (Fordham, Ghana) - 22
4. Nick Gardner (Denver) - 23
5. Briley Guarneri (Colorado Mesa, D-II) - 21
6. Jimmy Hague (Michigan State) - 23
7. Elliott Rubio (Utah Valley) - 22
8. Dakota Havlick (Santa Clara) - 21
9. Ben Willis (Gonzaga) - 22
10. Dylan Castanheira (Columbia) - 23

Bill says: There are a couple of PDL hotspots for goalkeeping where if a college goalkeeper spent the summer there, it's a good chance we'll see them again down the line. Morton (Ocean City Nor'easters), Nuhu (New York Red Bulls U23s), and Hague (Michigan Bucks) all trained with clubs who have a history of producing not only strong collegiate goalkeepers, but also professional ones as well. Elliott Rubio and Dakota Havlick are coming off junior years where they split time in goal and are looking to establish themselves as full-time starters for their final year. Ben Willis could be eyeing a homegrown contract from the Seattle Sounders by next spring, as the Gonzaga goalkeeper trained with the Sounders' PDL side, as well as graduating out of their academy system years ago.

 

Juniors

1. Dayne St. Clair (Maryland, Canada) - 21
2. Parker Siegfried (Ohio State) - 21
3. Jimmy Slayton (Hartford) - 20
4. Drake Callender (California) - 20
5. Andreu Cases Mundet (Wake Forest, Spain) - 21
6. Andrew Verdi (Michigan) - 20
7. Carlos Caro (Howard) - 20
8. Aron Runarsson (Vermont, Iceland) - 23
9. Charlie Furrer (Stanford) - 21
10. Marcel DaSilva (Virginia) - 21

Bill says: St. Clair (New York Red Bulls U23s) leads the pack for the juniors and is rated as one of the best prospects in college soccer by many scouts. National champions Stanford University are looking to replace Nico Corti and FC Dallas product Charlie Furrer is vying for the spot. Mundt, Verdi, and DaSilva (the last one transferring to UVA from Tulsa) will also have stiff competition from underclassmen and will have to prove themselves once again that they're worthy of being the number one. Howard's Carlos Caro has a live-or-die approach to goalkeeping that can either produce some wonderful contributions to the game or a largely forgettable moment from the 5'11" goalkeeper.

 

Sophomores

1. Will Pulisic (Duke) - 20
2. Chase Vosvick (Loyola Maryland) - 20
3. Alec Smir (North Carolina) - 19
4. Drew Romig (North Carolina) - 20
5. Ben Hale (Furman) - 20
6. Andrew Pannenberg (Wake Forest) - 19
7. Noah Lawrence (Cincinnati) - 19
8. Trey Muse (Indiana) - 19
9. Noah Heim (SIUE) - 20
10. Enrique Facusse (Kentucky, Honduras) - 19

Bill says: When the 2021 MLS SuperDraft rolls around, there's a good chance we'll see a repeat of the 2018 draft where goalkeepers were flying off the board. There are another ten or more sophomore goalkeepers that have MLS potential so it'll be interesting to see who breaks out this fall and who will struggle to usurp an upperclassman. UNC has a tight situation on their hands with talented USYNT products, Alec Smir and Drew Romig. They could theoretically split 45's but most likely UNC is going to have one of the best backup goalkeepers in all of NCAA this year. Lawrence brings an immense amount of athleticism to Cincinnati's backline but will need to focus on limiting mistakes and rebounds as he attempts to lock down the starting role for the Bearcats.

 

Freshmen

1. Justin Garces (UCLA) - 18
2. Cameron Douglas (UCLA) - 19
3. Quantrell Jones (UMBC) - 18
4. Matt Frank (Stanford) - 18
5. George Marks (Clemson) - 18
6. Kyle Orciuch (Stanford) - 18
7. Alexander Budnik (Dartmouth) - 18
8. Giannis Nikopolidis (Georgetown, Greek) - 17
9. Johan Penaranda (Pittsburgh) - 18
10. Nick Malvezzi (Boston University) - 18

Bill says: While UCLA is typically known for their goalkeeping, it admittedly is odd seeing the top two goalkeepers in UCLA's stable. One has to think it's likely they both don't end their time at UCLA, as either could start for a majority of programs in the country. Jones (DC United), Frank (New York Red Bulls), Orciuch (Chicago), and Penaranda (New York City) all bring in Development Academy experience but may not see the field until 2019 or 2020. Nikopolidis is the lone international goalkeeper in the freshmen's list but the Greek goalkeeper could end up starting for one of the top programs in the country before he even turns 18. Overall it's an incredibly strong class that isn't limited to just ten goalkeepers and could rival the sophomores for producing professional talent.