Five Things We Learned From US Goalkeepers Last Week

cover photo from Mile High Sports

1. Jane Campbell Isn't Beloved by All

Jane Campbell is the only USWNT goalkeeper with a cap who is also younger than 29. Despite this, there were more than a few upset about the decision, as documented by a fine write-up from Backline Soccer. For a league that's supposed to develop American players for the national scene, it's odd that some don't wish to see such a highly rated prospect receive time on the field.

Some of the complaints were directed at Campbell not being ready for NWSL. Aside from any prospect needing playing time to develop, Campbell's errors are routinely seen in both NWSL and MLS. Hope Solo was suspect on aerial service and every weekend we see a goal off an easy rebound. Even Kopmeyer's lone conceded goal is a result of a poor punch out on a ball that needs to go to the corner flag, not the center of the box. Houston has several problems greater than Campbell's performance last weekend.

Looking back on the game, it's clear Campbell has talent but she needs game time to get to the next level. Benching Lydia Williams (Australian national team goalkeeper) isn't ideal, but the Dash didn't draft Campbell to sit on the bench. If the USWNT can't find game time for their early-to-mid-20 year olds, they may find themselves in a similar position as the USMNT down the line.


2. The Overhand Save Has Finer Points to Approach

Watch the play here, starting at 2:12.

Campbell isn't the only goalkeeper met with polarizing views. Zac MacMath has received his fair share from the public as he's filled in for a suspended Tim Howard. Last week MacMath held his own by making two important saves earlier in the match before finally conceding in the 81st minute. The goal came off a rebound from the post that originated from a shot atop the box, to MacMath's right. As MacMath covers the goalmouth, he utilizes the overhand technique to make the save. It's not clear from the video, but I don't think he actually deflects the ball. If he did, the impact looks fairly minimal as the ball still rockets off the post with some power to it.

There is some debate on the usefulness to the overhand save. Some claim that there is nothing the overhand save can do that the underhand save can't while others prefer the overhand save whenever possible. Either way, we can all agree the overhand save needs to go with the momentum of the ball if at all possible.

Notice how MacMath's right hand approached the ball from underneath. There are two reasons a goalkeeper should avoid this. First, it blocks the goalkeeper's view, as shown in the second and third frame. For such a tight play, the goalkeeper needs to know exactly where the ball is or else he risks missing it entirely, which is possibly what MacMath does. Secondly, going with the momentum makes it easier to line up the hand to the ball. For baseball players, think of a batter's swing. The batter wants to get his bat behind the ball first and then make his adjustment with his wrists or arms if need be. MacMath goes from underneath as misreads the ball because of it.


3. Bono Still Looking For His Own Style

One of the more disappointing plays for goalkeepers to make is conceding a needless goal in the final minutes to ruin a shutout. After 87 minutes of absolutely dismantling Chicago, Toronto is caught on a counter despite leading 3-0. The through ball is originally played to Bono's left (before the picture, above) but with defenders in the area, Bono correctly stays at home. Unfortunately Bono has cut so much of the angle off, he is in no position to cover the ball on the slotted pass back.

For a young goalkeeper, finding consistency and style is incredibly important. There are aspects of the game where the goalkeeper gets to decide if they will play certain situations aggressively or passively. However, Bono's approach on the goal is somewhat like getting caught in no man's land. He has needlessly stepped forward to cut down maybe an inch of the goal frame but has also given up the entire backside. If Bono take a step or two back, he may be in reach of the eventual shot.


4. Attinella Is Ready to Play

This is a much tougher play than it looks and one that most MLS goalkeepers will opt out of. For starters, Attinella displays some intriguing footwork. Notice how Attinella's shoulders turn on the play. Originally his right foot is cheating towards the back post but as the striker approaches the end line, Attinella squares him up. In doing so, Attinella is now giving first priority to the cross. With a simple hop, Attinella can attack the cross and eliminate a potential shot, instead of having to spin back to stand on the line.

There's always a bit of danger on these sort of plays. Attinella is fortunate not to have any collision here but he also correctly protects his head with his right arm to avoid possible contact there. For a goalkeeper who hasn't received a ton of playing time, it's a fantastic veteran play with minute details than often goes unnoticed.


5. Robles Has an Appreciation for Creativity

Not a whole lot to say here outside of Robles giving Filipe props on the creative slide. I'm not sure if this was planned or not but at least we know Robles is paying attention to any extracircular activity around his wall.