MLS Goalkeeper Review - Week 1

If you're new to the site or don't know how to pronounce "GSAR", check out my goalkeeping stat, Goals Saved Above Replacement.

One week through MLS and we saw many high and lows. Everyone was excited about the number of goals on the opening weekend but goals come from goal scoring opportunities and goal scoring opportunities lay the foundation for saves. And who doesn't like a good save? Chumps, that's who.

MLS actually did a decent job of picking the Save of the Week candidates, something they didn't do last year. On principle, I don't vote for a penalty save unless it was really outstanding for some reason. So I went with Penedo's flick of the wrist. I thought that was the most display of skill, even if the other saves (specifically Rimando's and Johnson's) had a higher impact on their GSARs.

If you're new to the site, I'm continuing my GSAR campaign for MLS goalkeepers this season. I almost completed the project last year but didn't quite make it. (You can click the 2013 tab to see the mostly completed project.) Below are everyone's GSAR. Rimando, Shuttleworth, and Seitz all had great days despite giving up a total of six goals between them and Seattle's Stefan Frei had a negative GSAR even though he had a shutout.

In an attempt to be more transparent for 2014 (my new year's ghost-inspired resolution), here are the game-by-game results for the first week of the MLS season. Going left to right by columns are

  • date - What the date was.
  • gk - Who the relevant goalkeeper is.
  • versus - Who are they playing?
  • GAs - How many goals allowed? This might increase as the game goes on.
  • shotlocal - Shot location based off of American Soccer Analysis's grid although I split the second grid in half. 2A is in front of the penalty spot, 2B is behind it. (For penalty kicks I just listed it as 2A.) I did this because I noticed a lot of shots come from the second grid and wanted to be more precise.
  • speed - 0-5 rating on how fast it was. This is a shot in the dark to see if it'll show some results. It might turn out to be nothing.
  • balllocal - If you keep scoring to the right in the spreadsheet you'll see a goal lined in x's with six grids inside. This is where the shot enters, facing the goal. The sixth grid is the top right corner (if facing front of goal).
  • situation - Any relevant information on the play.
  • defense (0-2) - 0-2 rating on the defense on the play. 2 is great, 1 is average, 0 is bad.
  • GSAR - Goals Saved Above Replacement, which you should know about now.

Five Plays From Week 1

5. I was really impressed with Shuttleworth this past week. After an up and down season in 2013, where New England sat Shuttleworth for Matt Reis late in the season, New England brings in Brad Knighton to compete for the spot. Shuttleworth gets the nod for opening day and his first three encounters with the ball all result in goals. Yet he finishes the game very strong (even though another goal was scored) with a +.73 GSAR on the day, including a 1v1 stop and this nice upper ninety save.

4. Sean Johnson made the highlight reel with his nice free kick save (+0.59 GSAR) but still ends up negative on the day because of the second and third goal he conceded against Chivas. On the second goal, his hands jump up above his head when the shot slips in past his heels. This is not ideal. He needs to react to the play and not guess. The third goal is more criminal when the ball slip past his hip. It's hit with such power, it's easy to let Johnson off the hook but this is definitely his to claim.

3. Sporting Kansas City gives up a goal in stoppage time when Eric Kronberg plows through Matt Besler. It's a fine line between trusting your defenders and being scared but Kronberg is too aggressive here. Even after the collision he takes way too long to get up and can't get to the ball because of this.

2. After having a quiet day and with his team up 4-0, David Ousted rushes out for a ball that he thinks he can catch but doesn't see Bradley Wright-Phillips until it's too late. I'm alright with his decision to come out, but this is a textbook punch situation.

1. In the first half of the game, Jaime Penedo makes a diving save that I think is a little overplayed. There's no shuffle when he has the time to do so. I think he could hold on to this if he moves his feet just a little bit. But like I said before, I really like this save by Penedo. It's quick, and one he shouldn't give up, but it's a hard, rising shot from a close angle. Honestly, this save is much tougher than the diving one.



  • Multiple keepers struggled in the air last weekend. We saw Kronberg's collision but Seattle's Stefan Frei didn't look confident here and Tally Hall had a really bad miss on a throw-in that should have resulted in a goal if not for the smart defense to guard the line. This may be an issue with these keepers for the season.
  • Chris Seitz did well coming off the bench for FC Dallas when Raul Fernandez injured. I said it all last season that Seitz was the best backup in the league and I still think he could start at a number of teams now. However, he almost gave up a bad goal with this five hole slip up. Somehow he redeems himself on the play by getting a paw on the rebound.
  • Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark (who was traded by Seattle) may have a quiet season in Columbus. +0.05 GSAR in a shutout.
  • Julio Cesar should start for Toronto on Saturday against Seattle. I'm looking forward to seeing what the World Cup vet can do.
  • Matt Reis is hiding outide in Los Angeles.
  • Donovan Ricketts showed us how to not defender a header. Goodness gracious...