I found out that the MLS kinda-sorta-somewhat keeps up with its own reserve system. I mean, it hardly has stats, sometimes has highlight videos, and seems to be forewarning us of its sudden collapse with a lack of any substantial coverage but there are excellent keepers in the system and several current MLS goalkeepers have spent time in the reserve system. (I would source that claim but again there is hardly any data on it. I guess with the reserve teams shifting to the USL Pro they're just assuming everyone will forget about them.) Specifically I'm looking forward to several reserve league keepers' ascension.
Most promising American reserve league goalkeepers
Santiago Castano - NYRB
Brian Rowe - LAG
Ryan Meara - NYRB
Alec Kann - CHI
Brian Perk - LAG
David Bingham - SJ
Eduardo Fernandez - RSL
Jake McGuire - CHV
Evan Louro - NYRB
That's a lot of young American goalkeepers who I expect to start at some point. You would think there would be some media attention for these keepers but they're stuck in a weird limbo. The reserve league is nice for players who can't make the starting XI but it's plagued with problems, the biggest ones being a lack of games and real stability to the teams (guest players are a frequent addition to teams).
"Why don't they drop to a lower league in America on loan? That way they can get more consistent playing time." you may be astutely pondering. That's a good question because most of the USL Pro and NASL teams don't have promising goalkeepers.
"Okay, Bill, now you're just being crazy. There are no good goalkeepers in the second and third division???"
Wow what a leading question but alright I guess I'll answer it. First off, I said no promising goalkeepers. As in goalkeepers who could start for an MLS side in 3-5 years. There are respectable goalkeepers by the dozens down there but most of them are in their late 20s or early 30s and have topped out their careers. For a bit of perspective, Richard Sanchez, FC Dallas's third string goalkeeper who turned 19 in April, is one of the best NASL goalkeepers after a handful of games into his loan with Ft. Lauderdale.
I don't understand the disconnect between getting young goalkeepers playing time in the lower divisions. It seems like a perfect fit. Maybe it's because these clubs aren't welcoming of newcomers, maybe the MLS sides want to hold on to their goalkeepers, or maybe there's just bad communication with the MLS sides for loan opportunities. Regardless, because of this situation young goalkeepers (sub 23) get pushed to the black hole reserve league.
Anyway, I say all that because I think it's relevant and the biggest movers this month were reserve goalkeepers that were brought to my attention. Link here.
There are five college goalkeepers towards the bottom of list and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about the start the NCAA season. Oddly enough, colleges do a decent job of developing goalkeepers. Or maybe they just don't ruin them that badly.
"How much does the MLS use the NCAA for goalkeepers?"
Okay that question was me.
By my count, there are 48 American goalkeepers over the age of twenty in the MLS, obviously excluding academy players. I assumed on average a goalkeeper would have a ten year career from ages 23 to 33. (I have no stats to back this but just took a nice rounded guess.) Based on this average, 4.34 American goalkeepers exit the MLS at age 33 every year if we're working with 48 keeper scale (about 2.5 per team). This will grow in the expansion years but ideally we'd see 4-5 American goalkeepers enter the MLS every year.
Now, goalkeepers can return from overseas but most goalkeepers are going to be coming up in the draft. Perhaps academies start developing their own goalkeepers but we're not there yet. Here's a very small list of drafted goalkeeping yanks by year:
* - not in MLS anymore
2013 (5/5): Brad Stuver, Luis Soffner, David Meves, Kyle Zobeck, Daniel Withrow.
2012 (3/7): Ryan Meara, Chris Blais*, Carl Woszczynski*, Brian Rowe, Andrew Fontein*, Doug Herrick, Joel Helmick*
2011 (5/10): Zac MacMath, Bryan Meredith*, Joe Willis, Jimmy Maurer*, Evan Newton, Josh Ford, Jeff Attinella, Phil Tuttle*, Zach Johnson*, Craig Hill*
(Side note: Portland traded Joe Bendik and a first round draft pick (Kyle Bekker) to Toronto for Milos Kocic and Ryan Johnson. Wow what a steal.)
We see 5-10 goalkeepers drafted in the past three years. A lot of those have received good minutes in the MLS at early stages in their career. And they're not all coming from just Pac 12, Big Ten, or ACC conferences, it's all over.
Johnson - UCF
Kennedy - UCSB
Irwin - Elon University
Pickens - Missouri St
Gruenebaum - Kentucky
Hall - San Diego St
Perkins - USF / Evansville
Reis, Rimando - UCLA
Shuttleworth - Loyola / Buffalo
Robles - Portland
MacMath - Maryland
Busch - Charlotte
Bendik - Clemson
Hamid - DC United Academy Player
Not every club uses an American goalkeeper (Ricketts, Neilsen, Gspurning, Fernandez) but when 75% of the league is using a goalkeeper who came from the NCAA as their starter that says a lot. So the next time someone asks you what the point of the MLS draft is you can answer "American goalkeepers duh."
I say all that to seamlessly transition into my
Top 10 College Goalkeepers
Unlike others, I'm not going to act like I'm an omnipotent power that can see every college soccer game but I see as much as I can. Some teams (thankfully) put highlights up after the game so everything I can find I put it here. Now you may notice my list is vastly different than others' but I was one of the few rating Daniel Withrow over Scott Goodwin before 2013's draft (here, at the bottom) so feel free to take my word for what it is. It's early and I haven't even seen all these goalkeepers but this is my list for the moment.
- Adam Grinwis (Michigan) 65.42
- Spencer Richey (Washington) 65.33
- Keith Cardona (Maryland) 64.83
- Matt Bersano (Oregon St) 64.67
- Omar Zeeni (UC Davis) 64.67
- Tomas Gomez (Georgetown) 64.33
- Dallas Jaye (USF) 64.25
- John McCarthy (La Salle) 63.67
- Jaime Ibarra (SMU) 63.67
- Nick Shackelford (St. Louis) 63.67
Patrick Wall (Notre Dame) 63.67
- Adam Grinwis gave up two goals and unfortuantely we only get one of the goals in these highlights, but we do get a big save early in the video.
- Spencer Richey had a nice shut out against Gonzaga.
- Keith Cardona did not play against Stanford as he is recovering from a wrist injury. He started 20 of 24 games last year as a sophomore so he should be competing for the starting spot very soon. Also Steffen hasn't exactly been impenetrable in the net this season.
- Matt Bersano and Omar Zeeni put on a save clinic this last weekend.
- Tomas Gomez gave up two goals against Cal then had a shutout against Stanford but neither highlight is a good testament of Gomez's skill. (Cal highlights, Stanford highlights)
- Dallas Jaye the 2010 USSFDA National Goalkeeper of the Year goals allowed and two saves against Florida Gulf Coast then was sat against the follower versus Stetson. (One save seen in the highlights)
- Patrick Wall and Jaime Ibarra were named to the IU all-tournament teams this past weekend.
- I couldn't find highlights for John McCarthy, Nick Shackelford