Everybody Soccered - January 2015

January 31st

I ended up on a couple of different sites talking about goalkeepers this week. I wrote about Iker Casillas' fall from grace on Paste Soccer, gave a recap of USYNT goalkeeping outlook on Soccer Over There, and talked with Harrison Crowe on ASA's podcast for forty-five minutes, covering every MLS team and the SuperDraft.

As for Iker Casillas, he has been linked with MLS. LA Galaxy, Toronto FC, and New York City FC, none of with make sense as they all have either an established starter. No MLS team, for that matter, makes too much sense as each club has invested a large deal of money into the starter and aren't wanting to make a multi-million dollar purchase for an aging goalkeeper.

Kevin Manahan wonders if Tim Howard could end up back in MLS, citing age and family as reasons to come back. Howard is entering the first of a four years in his recent contract extension and has stated multiple times that he wants to stay in EPL. Still, if Howard loses his starting role at Everton, he could end up stateside.

Eric Lopez joins Kevin Silva and Will Pulisic as another U17 goalkeeper in residency. Eric Lopez might sound familiar to some as he signed a contract with Los Angeles Galaxy as a fifteen year old. It will be interesting to see where Lopez lands in the pecking order but Silva and Pulisic will be tough to unseat.

Cali-pals Jonathan Klinsmann and Justin Vom Steeg are on the U18 roster that's heading to Mexico.

Noah Thomas and Cole McNally made this year's id² tour roster. Thomas and McNally have spent time with ODP and U14 camps, respectively, so there's a good chance we'll continue to see those names in the coming years.

Andy Gruenebaum opted out of going to San Jose, instead he retired from professional soccer to stay in Kansas City with his family. He is reportedly joining the broadcast team, following Kevin Hartman, Tim Howard, and Brad Friedel's journey into the booth.

It was a tough decision to hang up the boots but at the end of the day, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stay in KC and be a part of this amazing club. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family for all their support first and foremost, as well my sincere appreciation for all the great players, coaches and fans I have encountered throughout my career in both Columbus and Kansas City. I look forward to being a part of the growth that Major League Soccer will achieve in years to come and the sport’s continued success here in my hometown.
— Andy Gruenebaum, on retirement

MLS has a nice list of all preseason action here. Preseason is a really fun time for goalies who are looking to make there claim on teams. Most notable game so far was DC United's recent match. DC is trailing three goalkeepers for the number three spot. Preseason starter Diego Restrepo gave up a rough goal and might be losing out to young Italian goalkeeper Riccardo Anedda. Games run throughout February featuring MLS clubs against each other, lower tier teams, and some clubs crossing the Atlantic.

Matt Lampson wrote this about Columbus Crew's preseason. I don't know.


January 27th

A lot of news these past eleven days!

The U20s scrapped through qualifying, thanks in large part to the defense that only gave up two goals in the six games. I wrote more about Zack Steffen's performance here. Mexican-American and FC Dallas goalkeeper, Jesse Gonzalez had a good tournament himself but because he's playing for Mexico we won't speak too much about it.

USMNT vids follows Alex Bono on draft day. He had training with the national team at the time of the draft and Klinsmann breaks the news to him in the huddle. Nick Rimando had some kind words. Here is a shot of him in the midst of an infamous goalie war competition.

All that to say, the USMNT game this week will not feature Bono, as Jon Kempin, Sean Johnson, and Nick Rimando are the three traveling keepers.

Rehabbing Tim Howard shares about his current injury situation. He says he is feeling good, fit and strong and expecting to be back within 1-3 weeks. Brad Guzan on the other hand is eyeing the number one spot with the US Men's National Team.

The US Women's National Team is a little less optimistic as their starter Hope Solo has been given leave by the team and are looking to rarely used goalkeepers like Ashlyn Harris and Nicole Barnhart. With the World Cup in less than six months, this is not really the time to have such a significant change in the back. They play France on the eighth of February.

Zac MacMath writes on his blog,

It’s all starting to feel real now, the trade, I mean loan, to Colorado Rapids is finally happening.
— MacMath

So while it is technically a loan deal, it doesn't sound like MacMath plans on going back to Philadelphia after it's over. I'd still like to see him sit a season to reset (he is still 23) but if Clint Irwin isn't up to par, I understand MacMath starting.

Dan Kennedy has a lot to say about recent CBA meetings and what the players are trying to get accomplished. Brian Strauss with the fine write up. Tally Hall had his fair share to say as well.

I spoke with Michael Abalos about his time with the Nike The Chance Tour and where he is now. Everybody Soccer interview alum, John McCarthy, is getting a shot at Philadelphia. With MacMath being loaned out, they are still looking for their third keeper. McCarthy won USL's Goalkeeper of the Year award last year.

Northwestern alum Tyler Miller passed on the idea of playing for the Sounders, surely being their USL's affiliate starter, and going to Germany for six months, citing that he wants to play in the best league in the world.

Nineteen year old keeper Austin Rogers has been giving periodical updates on his time at Floridsdorfer AC, a second division team in Austria. (The same league Keith Cardona is in with RB Liefering.) Here is a one save video of him. You can follow him on Facebook to see shots of him in action as well as the team's own page. He is U20 eligible but as we know that's a hard team to crack.

Not exactly America-related, but I've started a weekly article at Paste Online Magazine where I write about great goalkeepers. So far I've covered Lev Yashin and Manuel Neuer. If you don't know the first one, do yourself a favor and read about the greatest goalkeeper ever. And the Neuer article is a personal point of pride for me as I didn't use the phrase "sweeper keeper" once.

And as usual, here is a random Chinese math rock band with a song called "Goalkeeper".


January 18th

U20s are now 1-1-1 after their 8-0 drumming over Aruba. Ethan Horvath was in goal but didn't have much to do outside of collect some crosses. First place looks out of grasp for the US so they'll likely be matched up in the knockout round against El Salvador, Honduras, or Canada, depending on how many games fall. (Table here.)

Two goalkeepers were selected in the first two rounds of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. Toronto FC snagged Alex Bono, who might be starting for their new USL reserve team, and Tyler Miller went to Seattle, who is also is need of goalkeepers for their reserve team. Hopefully the third and fourth rounds prove my article on ASA wrong, claiming MLS didn't know how to draft goalkeepers.

Caleb Patterson-Sewell surfaced for the first time in a while. He was in goal for Gil Vicente FC's 3-0 loss to Estoril.

ASN wrote about Devin Cook's decision to forego his final year at Coastal Carolina and play for USL's Austin Aztex. They have a really neat program that helps players finish their degrees while still playing for their team. And of course, they're looking to make a return on their investment once they sell them in a couple of years.

Two stats came up looking at the age of goalkeepers in the EPL and MLS. I think the EPL stats have a larger sample size than MLS. And Alex over at Tempo Free Soccer confirmed how useless current goalkeeper stats are.

January 14th

The MLS Combine has finished and the SuperDraft is tomorrow!! Alex Bono is the only consensus first round goalkeeper to be taken but don't be surprised whenever Spencer Richey gets the call. To no one's surprise, Richey outperformed the other three combine invites by a significant margin, just like I've been saying for some time. Now, Richey did give up five goals in the last game but for those who have been following him this year, they know his quality. Perhaps the third game in five days made him sluggish as he honestly did seem very out of form. Still, he looked more promising than the other three. If I had to guess the other goalkeepers that get selected in the draft it'd be Andrew Wolverton, Earl Edwards, Tyler Miller, then Winston Boldt, assuming they could figure out Boldt's military commitment.

MLS teams that are still in need of goalkeepers

  • DC United - (Possibly two if Hamid moves overseas)
  • LA Galaxy
  • New England
  • New York Red Bulls
  • Philadelphia Union
  • Seattle Sounders

As to which team picks which player... your guess is as good as anyone's. That said, DC United, Montreal, Portland and New England are reportedly interested in Bono but there are still several USL teams that don't have any of their goalkeepers sorted out.

Troy Perkins is set to be Seattle's backup goalkeeper. Normally a player of Perkins' caliber would be pushing for the starting gig but Stefan Frei really solidified his spot last year. Raul Fernandez is still looking at a spot in the US but the remaining slots are running down. If Bill Hamid left DC United, that'd be the only team with a starting spot open. Timo Hildebrand has been training with the Sounders but it'd be an odd fit with him, Perkins and Frei all on the books.

MLS legendary goalkeeper Zach Thornton, twice MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, is looking like he's going to be the DC United goalkeeper coach for next year and possibly working with Bill Hamid.

Alex Horwath's move to Brann has become official. He will attempt to move Brann back to Norway's premier league after they suffered relegation last year.

David Yelldell had a very nice interview about his one appearance with the US. Apparently newcomers have to sing karaoke and there's a fun story in there about that. One of the more fun reads I've seen in a while.

Cody Cropper had a scary moment in his last game with Southampton's U21s. He suffered a broken eye socket and a concussion but is out of the hospital and is stable. Here's to wishing Cropper a speedy recovery.

Hunter Gilstrap wrote a very kind departing note for all of Pittsburgh. He will be with Carolina this next year and is currently the only goalkeeper listed on their roster.

The U20s returned to a positive trend with Ethan Horvath in goal in the 8-0 win over Aruba. Brad Friedel has been working with Horvath and Zack Steffen.

Touchline Times wonders what it would look like if our best athletes played soccer. Can't say I disagree with the potentially great goalkeeper.

January 9th

Looks like January is going to be a pretty busy month. Alex Bono, yes that Alex Bono I interviewed last month and said would be a great Olympic candidate back in October, unfortunately did not win the Hermann Trophy. Instead he signed a Generation Adidas contract with MLS and received a call-up for the USMNT's next camp. Not too shabby, I suppose. Jon Kempin, another Olympic candidate, will be joining Bono, Nick Rimando, and Sean Johnson in camp. Bill Hamid is rehabbing a shoulder injury.

The U20s tied their first game of World Cup Qualifying against Guatemala. Mullet legend and somewhat known American goalkeeper Tony Meola did a solid job as the color commentator for the game. Alex Olshansky provided a vine of the goal against the US but we'll have to wait for the polished highlights to surface. Zack Steffen was in goal against the thunderstrike. Guatemala started dual national and FC Dallas product Nicholas Hagan in goal.

The MLS Combine has kicked off and Spencer Richey was the star of the first night, holding onto the shutout with "eight saves, several of them in spectacular fashion". Richey was also included on the interview with Bono, just for the record. Watch highlights here from an announcer who seems unimpressed all the field players are wearing V necks. Here is a fun graphic of the four teams' lineups.

Another recent college graduate Tyler Miller is trailing in Germany and is missing some of the combine, if not all of it. It's a long read about Miller's time up until now, including his preference of high school over the long commute to the New York Red Bulls academy.

Tom Worville took a gander at which MLS goalkeepers were worth their contract and which ones were overpaid. This is the first of a four part series that will come out later this month.

January 7th

A new year is here, how exciting! The U20 team is kicking off with WCQ action against Guatemala on Friday the 9th. Zack Steffen is expected to start but Tab Ramos has stated he expects to use everyone on the roster in the five group games, which would mean Ethan Horvath should get at least one game if not two. Brad Friedel will be joining the U20s. Tab Ramos said he expects Friedel to help them think outside the box and was looking forward working with him. Joe Prince-Wright had a long write-up on Friedel. It's a great piece that really goes into detail at each step of his career from UCLA to Tottenham. If you're interested in the details of his career Prince-Wright has you covered. 

Recent convert Santiago Castano spoke about his decision to leave the US in favor of Colombia. Specifically about the US:

I have no other feeling than appreciation for what Tab Ramos did for me in terms of confidence. He was a little upset when we talked but at the end we understand my point. I will always thank what the USMNT gave me and my love for the country doesn’t change. Sometimes dreams and decisions are this way and I’m following a dream.
— Santiago Castano

Coincidentally, there are five other goalkeepers that hold American citizenship but will be playing for another nation in the U20 CONCACAF WCQ.

  • Mexico - Jose Gonzalez (FC Dallas)
  • Trinidad and Tobago - Johan Welch (Houston Dynamo)
  • Guatemala - Nicholas Hagen
  • Jamaica - Nicholas Nelson (Georgia United)
  • El Salvador - Carlos Cañas (Longwood University)

I wrote an article for our pals over at American Soccer Analysis. I can't take credit for the title but if you're interested in surveying how efficient MLS has been with drafting goalkeepers, take a look. You'd be surprised how many starters in MLS last year went completely undrafted.

Not long after Brooke Tunstall's article on MLS's struggles to ink this years top collegiate stars, Alex Bono became the fourth member of the 2015 Generation Adidas class. He joins Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, and Nick Rimando as a goalkeeper to land a GA contract, the 17th ever. Originally he was expected to stay for his senior year at Syracuse but now with his absence the school could be turning to New England Revolution product and incoming Freshmen Austin Aviza. (Watch highlights against the U17s here.) I spoke with Bono as well as three other senior goalkeepers eyeing the MLS draft last year.

Bill Hamid is finally drawing interest overseas. This may be problematic for DC as they just traded away their trustworthy backup, Joe Willis, so they may turn to Andrew Dykstra to start the season if Hamid does go abroad.

Hamid is also on the preliminary roster for the January camp. If Klinsmann stays consistent in his goalkeeper call ups, he'll take Sean Johnson and Nick Rimando as well. However, last January we saw Tally Hall get the call so if there's a dark horse to put your money on let it be Steve Clark or Luis Robles, both are coming off successful years in MLS.

Philadelphia's goalkeeping confusion has continued. Days after a French article surfaced, implying Algerian national team goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi was on the way out, the Union work out a loan with Colorado to send Zac MacMath out in exchange for a draft pick. (Possibly more if the loan becomes permanent.) On top of that, Philadelphia are looking to loan backup Andre Blake as well, which would put M'Bolhi as the starter and only goalkeeper in Philadelphia. Blake could be going to Philadelphia's USL affiliate, Harrisburg City Islanders. MacMath had kind words to share for the Philadelphia organization. Philadelphia should be fine as they seem to excel in signing goalkeepers, even when they don't need anymore.

Alex Horwath isn't being coy about leaving for a new club. Horwath almost led Ljungskile SK to promotion last year but now he is eyeing a jump to Norway's second division with recently relegated SK Brann. A translated Horwath explains, "I had only one year contract with my club, and was ready to move on. When this came up, it tickled my interest."

Next door neighbor Matt Pyzdrowski has signed with Swedish premier club, Helsingborg IF. Hear him talk ecstatically about the move here. Last year Pyzdrowski helped keep Ängelholms FF out of relegation in the second division so this is a nice promotion for him.

Grantland took a closer look at Tim Howard's stats this season. He is only saving 55% of all shots. Mike Goodman thinks it has something to do with the defense. 

Not exactly goalkeeper-related but Jack Gidney's conversation about player development with John Pranjić was fantastic. The two discuss what's working and what isn't working inside the United States and players looking to make the jump to professional ranks. Listen to it here.

And of course, what better way than to start off 2015 than to purchase an official Everybody Soccer shirt? It's never too late for another Christmas gift for yourself.