cover photo belongs to Lindsey Wasson
Returning from last year’s roundup, we’re back with another edition of “Where Are They Now?” MLS teams are scrambling to get their rosters ready for 2019, with typically includes anywhere from 3-6 goalkeepers, depending on how much they value their USL connections. Updates will come periodically, typically based off of recent transactions, scrimmages, or any breaking news.
After rosters start getting settled, we’ll include a “Projected N3Y Grade” (Projected Next Three Years Grade) where I shed some light on whether the team’s ship is sailing towards smooth or rocky waters.
2018/2019 Goalkeeper Grades
Columbus Crew A / A-
Los Angeles FC A- / B+
Seattle Sounders B+ / B-
Sporting Kansas City B+
Real Salt Lake B / B+
Portland Timbers B- / B+
Cincinnati FC B- / F
New England Revolution B- / B-
Montreal Impact B- / D
Houston Dynamo C+ / B+
Atlanta United C+ / B+
Toronto FC C
Chicago Fire C / D+
New York Red Bulls C- / C+
Vancouver Whitecaps C- / B-
Orlando City D+ / B
Minnesota United D+ / C+
New York City FC D+ / C
FC Dallas D / D+
DC United D / D
San Jose Earthquakes D- / D+
Los Angeles Galaxy D- / C-
Colorado Rapids F / F
Various League News
Dec 20: TopDrawerSoccer (here, but paywall) says Dayne St. Clair has a 60% chance of landing a GA contract while Will Pulisic has a 5% chance.
Dec 20: College Soccer News says UNC’s James Pyle will be selected as both the 15th and 21st pick [sic] and Rashid Nuhu is a top ten caliber player.
Dec 21: A Paraguayan reporter is saying 34 year old Antony Silva is heading towards MLS.
Dec 29: Brooke Tunstall reporting that National Champion Dayne St. Clair is going to be a Generation Adidas player, which allows him to enter the draft early and not count against the salary cap. Unless an American-based team just really likes St. Clair (he has spent time with the Red Bulls last summer), he’ll either go to a Canadian side or opt for the freshly minted Canadian Premier League. While a GA going unpicked might seem odd, Callum Irving was highly touted by some for the 106 MLS Superdraft but went completely undrafted, largely because most the league would have to use an international slot for a USL goalkeeper. International slots’ value has skyrocketed over the past few years.
Jan 1: Dayne St. Clair projected to go to Toronto on the 6th overall pick, with no other goalkeepers selected in the first round.
Jan 1: Transfermarkt interviews Akron goalkeeper, Ben Lundt.
Jan 2: MLSsoccer.com picks up the Silva rumor from December 21st.
Jan 3: An anonymous club has reached out for Andreas Luthe, a 31 year old German goalkeeper who has spent most of his career in the second division, with a “lucrative offer”, which spells trouble. Frontrunners for such a bonehead decision are Chicago, Minnesota, and Orlando.
Jan 14: Matic Kotnik now tied to the league. Unlike many goalkeepers brought into the league int he past, Kotnik actually seems good at the position. But if the report is true about having interest across Europe, coming to MLS seems very unlikely.
Feb 24: Joe Hart linked with the league. There’s no outright team that is lacking a clear starter but there are a number that could use the upgrade. Chicago have tried to bring in Iker Casillas before and this mimics that move a little bit. Colorado is moving on from Howard soon but surely they’ll let Howard finish out. RSL, Seattle, RBNY, and SKC all have goalkeeper getting up there in age and could trade their goalkeeper while their stock is still high. Philadelphia haven’t been shy about bringing in foreign goalkeepers in the past and there have been rumblings about Andre Blake transferring to Europe, but nothing substantial. It’s anyone’s guess right now but my money would be on Chicago first and Philadelphia second.
Starter: Brad Guzan (34)
Backup: Alec Kann (28)
In Reserve: Brendan Moore (26)
Coach: Aron Hyde
In: Brendan Moore (signed)
Dylan Castanheira (signed with ATL2)
Out: Mitch Hildebrandt (29, option declined)
USL Affiliate: Atlanta United II
Paul Christensen (23, 10 starts)
Justin Garces (UCLA, FR)
Russell Shealy (Maryland, FR)
2018 Grade: C+
Projected N3Y Grade: B+
Bill says: Guzan is sitting on a $700,000 contract and it’s person-to-person whether it’s a good deal. In contrast to Howard’s contract, it’s great. In contrast to some other goalkeepers, maybe Atlanta could save a few hundred thousand dollars.
Atlanta split playing time between five goalkeepers over the season, with rookie Paul Christensen getting the most starts with ten.
Don’t expect any notable changes with starting goalkeepers between the two teams. Even if Kann and/or Hildebrandt don’t return, Christensen will likely pick up the bulk of starts of ATL2.
Dec 9: Hildebrandt’s option isn’t picked up. For a veteran, it’s unlikely they are restructuring his contract and more likely ATL is making room for Christensen.
Dec 12: C+ may be a little low but I’m still not completely on board with the process. Guzan’s season felt a lot like “one step forward, one step back” - although he did have a nice save and shutout recently - and the same goes for Christensen with ATL2. Justin Garces earned the starting spot at UCLA but he’s still four years minimum away from taking over. If Atlanta can get another mid-20 year old to bolster the position, I’d feel much more confident moving forward.
Dec 20: TopDrawerSoccer rates Dayne St. Clair as having 60% odds of landing a GA contract and Will Pulisic at 5%, which feels fair on both parties.
Dec 27: With the Union swiping Matt Freese (who just finished his sophomore season with Harvard) and Steffen’s big sale, it could give the nudge to Atlanta to bring in Garces sooner than later. Typically with these sort of scenarios, a lot weighs on the goalkeeper’s situation with the college they’re at, and it doesn’t get much better than UCLA. It seems like an outside chance that Garces leaves school after just one year but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if it does happen.
Jan 2: Speaking on Garces, Travis Clark writes, “The MLS Cup champs don’t have a glut of candidates in the college ranks. UCLA goalkeeper Justin Garces is perhaps the brightest prospect, although it’s unclear how long he would be eligible for a homegrown deal, since he played just a single season with the franchise’s academy.”
Jan 9: Moore joins the first team and I absolutely love this signing. Moore has some commendable talent but struggled to latch on while at Rochdale. Hopefully he will split time with Christensen at ATL2.
Jan 11: Columbia senior Dylan Castanheira signs with Atlanta. Castanheira opted out of the combine so sounds like Atlanta moved pretty quick to lock down the Ivy Leaguer. Atlanta has done a good job filling out the goalkeeping core with youngsters with high ceilings and not journeymen that have zero chance of taking over the MLS starting spot.
Jan 14: FC Dallas selects Castanheira in the fourth round after he had already signed with Atlanta. I’m guessing this means FC Dallas hold Castanheira’s MLS rights and expect Atlanta to trade something for them at some point. I believe an MLS team can only hold so many non-rostered players’ rights, so they could theoretically drop them at some point. All this is compounded by the fact that Atlanta outright passed just nine picks before Dallas made theirs. This isn’t as ridiculous as Ousted’s deleted deal last year just because of how high-profile of a player Ousted was, but mechanically it’s equally absurd.
Atlanta gets a B+ going forward as they’ve done really well to stock up ATL2 but it appears they’re set for another average year with the first team. You can’t understate the value of having a game plan going forward but then again you can’t understate having a strong season between the posts for 2019. Projected N3Y Grade: B+
Starter: David Ousted (Denmark, 34)
Backup: Richard Sanchez (24)
In Reserve: Stefan Cleveland (24), Gabriel Slonina (14)
Coach: Aleksandar Saric
Sawyer Jackman (UIC, SR)
Miha Miskovic (Northwestern, Serbia, SO)
Jamison Yoder (Green Bay, SO)
Kyle Orciuch (Stanford, FR)
Cedrik Stern (Marquette, Germany, FR)
Damien Las (HS.JR)
In: David Ousted (claimed off waivers)
Gabriel Slonina (signed)
Out: Patrick McLain (30, option declined)
USL Affiliate: Tulsa Roughnecks
Fabian Cerda (Chile, 28)
2018 Grade: C
Projected N3Y Grade: D+
Bill says: Sanchez is possibly the most polarizing goalkeeper in the league. One moment he’s making a good save, then later that game it’s a poor tactical decision that lets one in the back of the net. For a goalkeeper who sat most the time in Mexico, it’s not too surprising to see. Needless to say, he’s far from securing the position. There have been rumors of bringing Iker Casillas to Chicago for the past couple years and while that’s still very unlikely, Sanchez should get a decent fight come next preseason. Cleveland earned only one start with Tulsa (raising questions about how well Chicago is getting their money’s worth from the USL) but if it wasn’t for McLain picking up an injury, he probably would have seen more than five starts this season.
No signs on if Chicago thinks McLain can bolster the position, but after allowing only six goals all year, he’s shown he has the talent if he can get stay healthy and get another chance.
Dec 10: Both Sanchez and Cleveland left unprotected for the expansion draft, if that says anything about the Fire’s faith in moving forward with the two goalkeepers.
Dec 23: This year someone got the idea to start the rumor that German-American 33-year-old goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm was a darkhorse USMNT candidate. Despite not really having the resume (has bounced around lower levels of Germany) nor ever showing interest in doing so, the rumor has grown and grown. So when you see quips like these, know that that’s only a recent rumor thrown out there to drum up interest in the goalkeeper.
Anyway, Chicago is connected to Kronholm, which is quite the drop off from chasing Casillas last offseason. Kronholm is an experienced veteran who would be a great number two or three for training, but anything higher is an unwarranted expectation.
Jan 3: An anonymous club has reached out for Andreas Luthe, a 31 year old German goalkeeper who has spent most of his career in the second division, with a “lucrative offer”, which spells trouble. My guess for such a bonehead decision is Chicago, but hopefully the deal falls through.
Jan 8: St. Clair projected as the fifth overall pick to Chicago, which on the heels of Steffen’s big sale may be a result of coaches thinking they could get the next big goalkeeper. I’d be surprised if Chicago picked him up as they are likely still looking at a veteran to bring in.
Jan 21: Ousted linked with Chicago and the Fire are surely going to get some help from DC to eat the massive contract Ousted is on. Frankly, I don’t see Ousted as an upgrade over Sanchez as the 34 year old Danish goalkeeper is well past his prime.
Jan 28: Chicago picks up Ousted off the waivers. Goff is reporting that Chicago is only paying for $150,000 for Ousted while DC is covering the other $240,000, which is about what one should have expected. Ousted starting the season seems to make the most sense, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Sanchez gets a dozen games by the end of the year.
Feb 3: After Ousted was brought in, I suppose it’s time to grade Chicago moving forward. Honestly I like Sanchez and Cleveland but I’m not optimistic that Chicago knows what they’re doing with the two youngsters. Cleveland ultimately seems like a fringe starter/backup player and could bump up if his ducks fall in a line. Sanchez is erratic, but he has the big time save in him. Ultimately it feels like they have two potential starters for 2021 but will just sit the bench for the next couple years. Ousted was disappointing in DC and there’s not any real reason to think he’s going to turn it around. Projected N3Y Grade: D+
Mar 3: How many times has a promising 14 year old worked out? Let me tell you it’s not many. Slonina is a decade away from ever starting for the Fire, an MLS team without a USL affiliate, which makes you wonder why he even signed in the first place. It’s likely there was so sort of threat that he would end up elsewhere had he not signed. Perhaps on the heels of Steffen’s deal, the Fire think they can get a transfer fee out of the 6’4” 14 year old. Either way, don’t be surprised if it’s years until you hear his name again, if ever.
Starter: Przemyslaw Tyton (31, Poland)
Backup: Spencer Richey (26)
In Reserve: Jimmy Hauge (22), Ben Lundt (German, 23)
Coach: Jack Stern
In: Spencer Richey (traded from Vancouver)
Przemyslaw Tyton (free transfer)
Jimmy Hauge (drafted, 2nd round)
Ben Lundt (drafted, 2nd round)
USL Affiliate: none
2018 Grade: B-
Projected N3Y Grade: F
Bill says: FC Cincinnati relied on Evan Newton (29) and Spencer Richey (25) to split 20 and 14 games last season, respectively. For a new club, they’re going to want to save on money on backups so it depends how they view the two. Newton is about as steady as they come but Richey has some upside as well. It’s possible they bring them both up on $80,000-ish contracts but if I had to pick between the two, I’d lean Richey as he finished the season with the team but it’s essentially a tossup outside-looking-in.
Dec 9: Richey it is! This still doesn’t remove the possibility of Newton coming in but Head Coach Alan Koch has made it pretty clear Richey is valued, “Last season, he battled and remained resilient in a competitive goalkeeping environment and showcased his abilities with fantastic performances at the end of the year. We believe Spencer displayed significant growth over the course of the year and we are excited to give him a well-deserved opportunity with this club in MLS.”
Vancouver still held Richey’s rights so FC Cincinnati sent a 2020 third-round draft pick, essentially garbage, to the Whitecaps for a goalkeeper on the rise. It’s a great move for Cincinnati and while they may still pick up another goalkeeper in the expansion draft, it drastically lessens the possibility of them signing any goalkeeper on money over $120,000. Perhaps they steal another youngster but don’t expect them to sign “an established veteran” on ridiculous money.
Dec 12: You can’t grade Cincinnati on the same grading scale as the rest of the league. So considering they performed well all season and, more importantly, set themselves up to carry one over to the big leagues, it’s been a successful run from the Ohioans.
Dec 12: Cincinnati tied to Przemyslaw Tyton, a 31-year-old Polish goalkeeper who has 14 starts for Poland, but hasn’t been a starter since 2016. (Highlights here.) Unfortunately this feels a lot like a Carlo Cudicini-type of move.
Dec 13: If there’s anything really to say about how much Cincy values Tyton it’s the fact that they got him in a free transfer. The one plus here is that if (and most likely) when Tyton isn’t up to snuff, Cincinnati has the precedent of giving the second stringer a chance. Don’t be surprised if he isn’t with Cincinnati this time next year.
Dec 20: Cincinnati.com has an interesting story on how Cincinnati found their newest goalkeeper and all I can think is “You spent all these resources for what?”. From the article, “Stern made the journey to Plock, which is a two-hour drive from Warsaw, and bunkered in for the better part of a week to observe and evaluate Tytoń over the course of four Wisła Plock training sessions.” Tyton has hardly played at all in the last two years yet Cincinnati thought a backup goalkeeper from a team that just got relegated out of La Liga was their lead option. As I say, I’m always happy to be wrong but the odds don’t seem to favor Cincinnati here.
Jan 11: After Philly traded out their draft picks for TAM, Cincinnati said “hey why not” and drafted two goalkeepers for whatever reason. If you’re at the draft and still not sure which goalkeeper you’d like to take, you haven’t done your research from the previous four months of collegiate ball. Even if Cincinnati manages to roster four goalkeepers, there’s a strong possibility zero of the four will be around in 2020. Hopefully Cincinnati can pick up an affiliate to get any one of their three backups some game time. Projected N3Y Grade: F
Jan 12: In another turn of unbelievable events, Cincinnati is linked with Boca Juniors goalkeeper Agustín Rossi on a year-long loan. No comment.
Update: Apparently the team is Minnesota. Thank goodness.
Feb 1: Tytoń starts and goes 75 minutes in a scrimmage against the Rapids. Hague came in - and not Lundt - for the final fifteen minutes. Richey is still out with a minor injury but “the hope is the club can find minutes for Richey in its Feb. 7 game against DC United.”
Feb 5: If I’m a Cincinnati FC fan, I’m ticked that they’re using an international slot on a third or fourth string goalkeeper.
Feb 6: Hague and Lundt officially sign. The previous update talked about a season long loan for Lundt to Louisville, while Hague would supposedly stay in Cincinnati to train. If they had to pick, players want game time over training so Lundt is getting the better deal on paper.
Feb 8: Speaking on Lundt’s loan, one Louisville fan commented, “I know this is just a loan, but I will likely stop supporting LCFC and cancel my season tickets if we become an affiliate to this [explicit] club.”
Starter: Tim Howard (39)
Backup: Clint Irwin (29)
In Reserve: Andre Rawls (29, loaned out to Colorado Springs)
Coach: Chris Sharpe
Connor Gavigan (Florida Gulf Coast, SO)
Trevor Mowry (Cal Poly, FR)
In: Clint Irwin (traded from Toronto)
Andre Rawls (Re-Entry draft)
Out: Andrew Dykstra (32, out of contract)
Zac MacMath (27, traded to Vancouver)
USL Affiliate: Charlotte Independence
Andrew Dykstra (32)
Brandon Miller (29)
2018 Grade: F
Projected N3Y Grade: F
Bill says: Another year where Colorado has zero youth development in mind. Not only does Colorado let 2018 draftee Thomas Olsen walk but Zac MacMath amounts for four total starts in all competitions as Dykstra picked up the bulk of time in Charlotte. With Howard on the largest MLS goalkeeping contract of all-time and only playing to the level of an average starter at best, it’s a great recipe for making in-house turmoil.
Dec 9: MacMath off the books for some TAM, a decent trade. Colorado fans should be less worried about a backup for 2019 and more concerned about how the Rapids are going to handle the position come 2020.
Dec 12: While I don’t think Howard had a bad year, at $2,475,000 you’re not hoping for just “not bad”. At that kind of money it has to be exceptional, which it wasn’t. Colorado did well to get a little return out of MacMath but the lack of forethought in the position after Howard is troubling.
Dec 13: Irwin enters the club in exchange for a second round draft pick. It’s a bit much for a player of this caliber but second round draft picks aren’t that highly valued to begin with. Although the Rapids could have done better in the haggling, it’s a pretty minimal waste on their part.
Rawls is selected in the re-entry draft and turns 28 next week yet still has zero MLS starts. Similar to Irwin’s acquisition, the Rapids didn’t waste any real resources to bring in Rawls. This also likely removes the possibility of Dykstra returning.
While I wouldn’t say either goalkeeper is poor, the bigger issue is that the Rapids had the chance to be bold with the future of the position and went with two backups that likely won’t be there at the start of the 2021 season.
Jan 14: Colorado’s average age with their goalkeepers is over 32. Projected N3Y Grade: F
Jan 20: Howard to retire at the end of the season. Truly an end of an era with the 2014 World Cup hero ending his career.
Starter: Zack Steffen (23)
Backup: Joe Bendik (29) / Jon Kempin (25)
In Reserve: Ben Lundgaard (23, loaned out to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds)
Coach: Matt Reis
Parker Siegfried (Ohio State, JR)
Robbie McKelvey (Duquesne, JR)
In: Zack Steffen (on loan from Manchester City)
Joe Bendik (traded for TAM)
Matt Reis (new goalkeeping coach)
Out: Zack Steffen (23, transferred to Manchester City)
Logan Ketterer (25, option declined)
USL Affiliate: Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Dan Lynd (24)
2018 Grade: A
Projected N3Y Grade: A-
Bill says: It’s an interesting time for Columbus as there are a few different directions to go from Steffen’s sale. Do they invest in another youngster and hope he ends up in Europe (aka gives the Crew a nice transfer fee)? Do they trust Kempin or Lundgaard to take over? Do they opt for a more established veteran? Could we see Steffen back on a loan from Manchester City? Time will tell but I’m hoping to see Kempin get a fair shake. He did well with his time in LA but not as sharp in his five appearances this year.
Ketterer had his option declined and writes a thankful Instagram post for his time in Columbus.
Dec 12: Steffen is set to play the first half of 2019 with Columbus before heading off to Manchester City. The big question is whom the Crew are looking to replace Steffen with. Kempin earned some games last year and looked okay but he’s shown some really positive moments in both LA and Kansas City that I think he has enough reason to warrant another chance to get the keys to the car this summer.
The Crew earns an “A” for 2018, largely for their ability to convert a young prospect into $7-10 million. Steffen had some positive moments but also had some room to grow as well.
Dec 12: While most everyone has been positive about the Manchester City move, the Guardian astutely points out that Manchester City has a number of players out on loan (28 in total) and raises some concerns about the move.
On a side note, Onstad feels confident about replacing Steffen, “Our scouts already have players targeted as the Club identifies a high-caliber replacement.”
Dec 27: Columbus brings in Joe Bendik by first acquiring Bendiks’ “first right of refusal”, which essentially transfers the player’s rights to the new team. In this example, if Bendik doesn’t want to sign, Columbus can literally lock him down by matching any future offer another MLS team throws on the table as players ultimately sign with the league and not teams. If Columbus doesn’t match any future offers, they lose the rights to Bendik. All that said, Columbus wasn’t going to move TAM ($50,000) only to not sign him.
The question now is what the fall will look like when Steffen leaves. It’s likely that Bendik holds the edge on Kempin now but the Crew have plenty of time to figure it out.
Jan 14: The back half of 2019 is going to be really interesting. I think a lot of people have counted out Lundgaard as an option going forward but any three of Bendik, Kempin, or Lundgaard could be starting in 2020 if one of them is able to put their ducks in a row. Columbus has given themselves multiple options to look at for 2020. Projected N3Y Grade: A-
Jan 23: The Crew have two academy keepers in camp, Logan Kowalczyk (Bowling Green commit, ‘01) and JT Harms (uncommitted, ‘02).
Jan 28: Onstad moving up and Matt Reis brought in. Two goalkeeping greats at Columbus now.
Starter: Bill Hamid (28)
Backup: Chris Seitz (31)
In Reserve: Earl Edwards (26)
Coach: Zach Thornton
Scott Rissler (Duquesne, JR)
James Knoebel (Liberty, JR)
Jacob Braham (Stony Brook, JR)
Lance DaSilva (Coastal Carolina, SO)
Noah Lawrence (Cincinnati, SO)
Quantrell Jones (UMBC, FR)
Dane Jacomen (Penn, FR)
Out: Travis Worra (25, out of contract)
David Ousted (33, Denmark, traded to Chicago)
USL Affiliate: Loudoun United
Calle Brown (26)
Colin Miller (22)
2018 Grade: D
Projected N3Y Grade: D
Bill says: Another confounding year in the goalkeeping department for DC. Ousted ends up being one of the highest paid backups at $370,000 while DC United bring back Bill Hamid on loan after his transfer fee to FC Midtjylland for zero dollars ended up amounting to Hamid having close to a zero dollar impact on the club. Hamid did well with his time in DC but United’s route going forward is more than muddied. They could theoretically take Hamid back full-time but I would imagine DC wouldn’t spend more than what they sold him for ($0) simply out of principle.
Dec 10: One way to protect a player for the expansion draft is to make them ineligible for the draft. The other way is to sign a backup player to a $370,000 contract. Ousted and Worra left open for Cincinnati.
Dec 12: DC United finish with a “D” on the year. Hamid came in and salvaged the position for the most part but the whole approach to goalkeeping is all over the place. If my math is right, I think Ousted is set to make more money than Hamid for 2019, if not at least very close to. DC United spent twice as much than LAFC did on goalkeepers and got less than half the results.
Dec 16: Orlando’s Earl Edwards linked to DC.
Dec 19: DC sends a second round draft pick for Orlando City backup, who did not have a strong 2018 season. Ousted is probably on the way out (although DC will probably have to eat some of the salary) so Edwards could possibly be the number two for 2019.
There’s not a ton of reason to believe Edwards can be a potential MLS starter in a few years. The last time he was consistently playing well was close to a decade ago. Perhaps Thornton thinks he can right the ship but it seems unlikely as of now.
Dec 27: DC is sending $50,000 of TAM to Orlando for Edwards. Overall it’s a fairly unremarkable amount of news but nevertheless here it is.
Jan 14: Hamid did fine in 2018 but still will likely have his ups and downs next year. Edwards hasn’t shown signs yet of taking over the position and Ousted, their highest paid goalkeeper, is still on the books. Projected N3Y Grade: D
Edit: I missed the Seitz trade from the 11th, which as Steven Goff points out means Ousted is likely out, if not of the league entirely. Some MLS teams have taken interest but I can’t see anyone giving him a contract over $150K. DC United’s N3Y Grade stays at a D as Seitz likely won’t be with United longterm.
Jan 21: Ousted linked with Chicago, apparently the sucker team to offload the massive contract on.
Jan 28: Paul Blanchette is in camp. Not the ideal fit (no real USL connection for DC) but Blanchette is one of the top 24 year olds in the American pool.
Feb 12: I completely missed the memo that the Kickers were getting replaced by Loudoun United, a first year club set up specifically for DC United’s affiliate. They sign Calle Brown, who has had some mixed USL success but isn’t in the first team picture going forward.
Starter: Jesse Gonzalez (23)
Backup: Jimmy Maurer (31)
In Reserve: Kyle Zobeck (28)
Coach: Drew Keeshan
Matthew Karasinski (Tulsa, JR)
Charlie Furrer (Stanford, JR)
Ben Hale (Furman, SO)
David Abonce (Ohio State, FR)
Trevor Jackson (Central Arkansas, FR)
Carlos Mercado (Incarnate Word, FR)
USL Affiliate: North Texas SC
Carlos Avilez (20)
2018 Grade: D
Projected N3Y Grade: D+
Bill says: FC Dallas tries another year with Gonzalez and once again it’s mixed results. With FC Dallas treating the position with the right amount of fluidity, perhaps Avilez could work his way into the starting role if he does well enough with North Texas.
FC Dallas announces the creation of the USL side North Texas SC and with tryouts this month, it’s safe to say they don’t quite have the depth yet to really project much. Sports Day points out Ben Hale and Carlos Avilez as possible starters.
Dec 10: Somewhat interesting that FC Dallas protected Maurer for the draft, implying they’re not done with him yet.
Dec 12: Not a great year from Gonzalez and on $211,000, it has to be better. It’ll be interesting to see how many minutes Maurer gets in 2019. After earning 13 starts, does FC Dallas continue to lean on the 30-year-old or try to commit to Gonzalez even more? Hopefully FC Dallas is even quicker to put Maurer in the net if Gonzalez continues to struggle.
Dec 27: With the USL expansion, it should be a little telling what FC Dallas think of their homegrown options. Perhaps goalkeepers don’t sign this first year just to see how things are going to run, but with how forward-thinking FC Dallas has been in the past with the youth, it makes sense they pull a kid up for this next spring.
Jan 31: Avilez signs outright with North Texas, being the first non-teenager to sign. (He turned 20 in January.) Avilez was with OKC last year but didn’t play so this will hopefully be good experience for him. FC Dallas could still use another goalkeeper on the books but could technically get by with four.
Feb 6: North Texas SC releases their preseason roster. Currently Avilez, Eduardo Cortes (25, out of contract), and Chase Therrien (22, UT Dallas) are in camp. Therrien was originally at Incarnate Word as a freshmen and was a talented goalkeeper back then but probably didn’t do his development much service by transferring to a D3 school. It’s a fairly underwhelming roster, regardless if they bring in Cortes or Therrien for the last (supposed) goalkeeper spot. With FC Dallas trying Gonzalez another year and with a more consistent goalkeeper sitting on the bench, it’s hard to get too excited about the goalkeeping coming out of Frisco. Projected N3Y Grade: D+
Starter: Joe Willis (30)
Backup: Tyler Deric (30)
In Reserve: Michael Nelson (23)
Coach: Paul Rogers
Andy Rios (UT Rio Grande Valley, JR)
Charles Filby (Virginia Tech, JR)
Andrew Morrison (Washington, FR)
Alex Fetterly (New Mexico, FR)
In: Ben Willis (23, signs with RGV)
Out: Chris Seitz (31, traded)
USL Affiliate: Rio Grande Valley FC Toros
Nico Corti (23)
2018 Grade: C+
Projected N3Y Grade: B+
Bill says: The Dynamo started the season with Seitz in goal but after six games made the switch to Willis. Houston would later bring back Deric mid-season but outside of two starts, it was all Willis. It’s a little unclear who the intended starter would be for 2019. Nelson is the one on the books with the parent team, not Nico Corti, who would end up getting the bulk of the starts at RGV. The Dynamo have never looked sold on Willis but there’s no denying he performed up to expectations this year, if not exceeding them at times. Nelson is likely still the long-term goal but he’s probably still 2-3 years from reaching that goal.
Dec 10: Nelson is the only goalkeeper available for the expansion draft. It’s a long shot Cincy picks him up but if they’re wanting a young project, Nelson isn’t a bad option.
Jan 14: A quiet winter for Houston’s goalkeeping department. Looking back, the C+ is a little low for Houston as Willis had a stronger year when I dove a little more into the season. Between Seitz and Deric, one seems a little superfluous, but with Willis having another couple good years in him and Nelson/Corti in the wing, they’re better off than most teams. Projected N3Y Grade: B+
Edit: I overlooked Seitz’s departure, which makes sense on Houston’s part to move on without him.
Feb 1: Houston rounds out their goalkeeping department with Gonzaga graduate Ben Willis. Houston will probably favor Nelson but they didn’t bring Willis in for no reason.
Los Angeles FC
Starter: Tyler Miller (25)
Backup: Pablo Sisniega (23)
In Reserve: Phillip Ejimadu (19)
Coach: Zak Abdel
In: Pablo Sisniega (signed)
Phillip Ejimadu (signed)
Out: Charlie Lyon (26, option declined)
Quillan Roberts (24, Canada, option declined)
Luis Lopez (25, Honduras, loan expired)
USL Affiliate: Orange County SC
Carlos Lopez (22)
Bennett Sneddon (21)
2018 Grade: A-
Projected N3Y Grade: B+
Bill says: Tyler Miller went from an expansion draft pick to one of the top five goalkeepers in the league. Based off of LAFC’s handling with the rest of the depth chart, it seems like it was more good fortune for LAFC as Miller simply ran with the opportunity in front of him. If LAFC could get a larger return out of the affiliate (LAFC goalkeepers combined for five starts with the OC) I’d be a little more convinced they had a cleared plan going forward but right now LAFC is paying Lopez $147,500 to sit the bench while their starter is made just under $69,000.
Dec 12: Lopez heads out, which certainly frees up some money for LAFC. Unless Miller re-negotiates a new contract, LAFC should have, at most, a cool $100,000 to spend on a backup. But overall it was an incredibly successful year after LAFC was wise to recognize talent left available in the expansion draft.
Dec 30: LAFC looking at bringing back Lopez in for free but his parent club isn’t excited about it. LAFC would be better off looking elsewhere for a goalkeeper, especially if the asking price for a backup goalkeeper is greater than $0.
Jan 21: Wade Hamilton (24) and Phillip Ejimadu (19) in camp, both of which I am very intrigued by. I’d love to see what LAFC could get out of the two goalkeepers. Ejimadu might not be a familiar name or face to MLS fans but he’s a monster in goal who could really use a good keeper coach to help him polish his game. It wouldn’t be an easy task as a goalkeeper with bad habits at 19 is hard to turn around, but the upside is massive if they can work it out.
Jan 30: Donovan Palomares called into Mexico’s U15 camp.
Feb 18: A fascinating move out west with the announcement of Pablo Sisniega. Somehow the 23-year-old owns US, Mexican, and German citizenship. His American passport is the number one reason why he’s brought in. It’s also important to note that while he is a free transfer, this guy is actually pretty decent. Somehow LAFC have managed to pull in a young goalkeeper with some decent upside for zero dollars, instead of an aging veteran that may or may not show up on game day. Needless to say, it’s a pretty impressive feat. It’s a little odd that a surplus goalkeeper from a Spanish club hops on the USMNT scene immediately but no complaints here.
Feb 21: Ejimadu signed and LAFC have a real project on their hands now. Ejimadu is a 10/10 on athleticism but he still has a lot of ground to gain to become a fully fledged professional. LAFC can’t simply send him out to OC and expect him to magically return improved. While LAFC did very well with Miller last year, the other rostered goalkeepers essentially sat the bench for all of 2018. If they want to receive a return on Ejimadu, they can’t repeat last year’s approach. Still, they have some substantial talent on the bench and have managed to pull two Americans out of the woodwork at the same time. I don’t think Miller will repeat his 2018 performance but there’s no reason to expect a massive drop off either. Projected N3Y Grade: B+
Los Angeles Galaxy
Starter: David Bingham (29)
Backup: Matt Lampson (29)
In Reserve: Justin vom Steeg (21)
Coach: Oka Nikolov
Matt Watkin (San Diego State, JR)
In: Matt Lampson (re-entry draft)
Out: Brian Sylvestre (26, option declined)
USL Affiliate: Los Angeles Galaxy II
Eric Lopez (19)
Abraham Romero (21)
2018 Grade: D-
Projected N3Y Grade: C-
Bill says: After all the effort LAG spent to get Bingham, he ended up being a bottom five goalkeeper for the year. Vom Steeg (14), Eric Lopez (11), and Wade Hamilton (7) split time in USL action and right now I’m not convinced that vom Steeg couldn’t reproduce what Bingham has shown in goal. Unfortunately the Galaxy has locked themselves into a heavy contract with Bingham at $275,0000.
Dec 12: If it weren’t for the USL side the Galaxy would have received a straight F, but one has to think out of Lopez, vom Steeg, and Hamilton, at least one goalkeeper is going to work out between the three. So while 2018 is something fans are wanting to move past quickly, they do have a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Then again, every goalkeeper starts with a clean slate in March and 2019 wouldn’t be the first time a goalkeeper rebounded from a terrible year to remind the critics they deserve their paycheck.
Dec 20: The Galaxy pick up Lampson in the expansion draft and while he’s probably not brought in to push Bingham, it at least gives the Galaxy a safe option to fall back on if Bingham starts another poor form. Bingham hasn’t had a decent year since 2016 and at around $100,000, it makes sense on the Galaxy’s part.
Jan 14: I’m having trouble gauging how Galaxy favors Hamilton, Lopez, or vom Steeg. Three young goalkeepers with mixed fanfare and a goalkeeper returning to the starting position after a bad 2018 gets the Galaxy a C- with projecting their next three years. Projected N3Y Grade: C-
Jan 20: Former Galaxy goalkeeper is looking to return. Mexican-American goalkeeper Abraham Romero was unstoppable at the 2017 U20 World Cup but has apparently only sat the bench since then. He could certainly use a jumpstart to revive his career.
Jan 21: Whoa, that was quick. Romero back with the Galaxy already, which I assume is technically with the USL side but that’s to be determined.
Wade Hamilton is also in camp with LAFC, which seems like he’s not returning to LAG. Not a massive loss for the Galaxy with Romero on the way in. With the Romero addition, LAG gets a bump. Projected N3Y Grade: C+
Starter: Vito Mannone (30, Italy)
Backup: Bobby Shuttleworth (31)
In Reserve: Dayne St. Clair (21, Canada)
Coach: John Pascarella
In: Dayne St. Clair (drafted, 1st round)
Vito Mannone (signed)
Out: Matt Lampson (29, option declined, selected in re-entry draft)
Alex Kapp (24, option declined)
USL affiliate: Forward Madison FC
Brian Sylvestre (26)
2018 Grade: D+
Projected N3Y Grade: C+
Bill says: It’s an interesting strategy Minnesota utilized with their goalkeeping core. Instead of paying big for one goalkeeper, which may or may not work out, they paid less than $300,000 for two goalkeepers, hedging their bets that one of them would work out. And it worked out, with Shuttleworth having a good year through 25 games. Similar to Houston, Lampson started the first six games then Shuttleworth took over after that. Kapp didn’t see any action all year and with Shuttleworth turning 31 this year, Minnesota will likely look to a very thin senior goalkeeping class to help out, although they’ve had zero luck with young goalkeepers in their short history. With Forward Madison joining League One in 2019, Minnesota can afford to pick up more than youngster to test drive.
Dec 10: Minnesota protected Shuttleworth for the expansion draft, implying they have some bigger plans for him in 2019.
Dec 20: Lampson selected in the re-entry draft. Minnesota needs two goalkeepers, if not three or four to fill out Madison.
Jan 11: I had predicted St. Clair going to Orlando but Minnesota 1) makes sense and 2) is a good pick by the Loons. With the affiliation with Forward Madison, St. Clair should be set to pick up some games and won’t take up an international slot in the process. Minnesota has the ability to flex with their third slot. They could pick up another youngster if they think Shuttleworth is safe enough or bring in another veteran to shore up the position. Shuttleworth didn’t have a great 2018 so the latter seems more likely.
Jan 12: Things are moving quickly up north! Minnesota looking at Argentine 23 year old goalkeeper Agustín Rossi. I actually really like this move as it strengthens the position, elevates the level of play in the league as a whole, and gives the goalkeeping core some direction going forward. It’s a loan so there isn’t the possibility of getting a return on the backend (a $12 million buy is an option after the loan but that seems unlikely). All-in-all this is a great move for Minnesota, if true.
Jan 14: Rossi to Minnesota apparently has some real traction. It still receives a big thumbs up from me if they can get this deal sorted out.
Jan 16: Allegations over Rossi and domestic abuse could cloud the situation.
Jan 21: Minnesota is moving on from Rossi, seemingly after the domestic abuse allegations surfaced. It’s a little disappointing as I was really looking forward to seeing Rossi in MLS, but it seems like the allegations were substantial enough to cause Minnesota to look elsewhere, which you can’t argue about. If a city isn’t welcoming of a player, it makes sense to just find another one.
Jan 25: Minnesota has moved on to Brian Sylvestre and, what looks like, Finnish 27 year old goalkeeper Walter Viitala. Viitala recently started for Finland against Estonia and is a nice rebound for United after the Rossi deal fell through. Minnesota could conceviably bring both Sylvestre and Viitala in, as they could send Sylvestre and St. Clair to Madison. Viitala is starter material and a strong candidate to be Minnesota’s number one in 2019.
Feb 6: 30 year old Italian Vito Mannone seems like he’s heading to Minnesota. You can’t blame United for being lazy this offseason, as this is (at least) their third international to take a strong look at. Mannone is an interesting goalkeeper as he clearly reads the game very well but isn’t the quickest with his feet. So if he can’t outsmart the shooter, he’s going to struggle. That said, he’s made some good plays by depending on his mind, which isn’t all too common.
While this isn’t really changing the issue that MLS is picking up other country’s leftovers - Mannone is “out of favor” with Reading - at the very least Minnesota isn’t getting a terrible goalkeeper. I don’t love the move, but it makes sense on some levels.
Feb 7: In case anyone was wondering about Mannone’s travel plans.
Feb 10: Sounds like it’s official. The biggest question marks for me now are 1) What will Minnesota do with St. Clair? and 2) How long will Mannone last? If he starts a full season, that’s a success by United. Either way they’re up for their N3Y evaluation. St. Clair likely won’t be ready to go until he’s 25, which means Minnesota needs to figure out their starting spot through 2022, if not later. They have some future investments but overall they could have more for the immediate future. I suppose Sylvestre could be an option but MLS teams continually pass on the 26-year-old so that seems unlikely. Projected N3Y Grade: C+
Starter: Evan Bush (32)
Backup: Clement Diop (France, 25)
In Reserve: James Pantemis (Canada, 21)
Jason Beaulieu (Canada, 24)
Coach: Joël Bats
Out: Maxime Crepeau (Canada, 24, traded to Vancouver)
USL Affiliate: Ottawa Fury
David Monsalve (30)
Jordan Tisseur (18)
2018 Grade: B-
Projected N3Y Grade: D
Bill says: After a strong year, Bush is rewarded with a million dollar contract over three years, placing her around 12th for most paid for an MLS goalkeeper. It’s a smart plan to keep Bush in charge until no later than 2021 with Crepeau (who quietly earned 35 starts with Ottawa this year) takes over whenever he’s ready. The rest of the roster is a bit of a head-scratcher, as the Impact are spending nearly $200,000 on the three goalkeepers sitting the bench, but at least they have a plan.
Dec 9: Scratch that. Montreal receives $50,000 in TAM and a third-round draft pick for the 2020 draft for Crepeau, a pretty low offer had Montreal rated Crepeau highly but, more likely, a decent offer if Montreal was ready to move on from him. This doesn’t give much confidence for Montreal post-Bush life. It takes a couple years to groom a goalkeeper into the starting spot.
Dec 12: Pantemis is awarded Team Canada save of the year for this quick paw.
I was in between a B-/C+ year for Montreal but with Bush playing so well and Montreal getting some return out of their youngsters, they’re getting the bump up. However, Bush will have raised expectations heading into 2019 with the new contract.
Jan 14: I can’t see Beaulieu, Diop, or Pantemis taking over and the Impact has zero homegrown options down the line. Projected N3Y Grade: D
New England Revolution
Starter: Matt Turner (24)
Backup: Brad Knighton (33)
In Reserve: Cody Cropper (25)
Coach: Remi Roy
Austin Aviza (Connecticut, JR)
Eddie Walsh (Xavier, SO)
Trey Miller (Massachusetts, FR)
Matt Tibbetts (Holy Cross, FR)
USL Affiliate: Hartford Athletic
Mike Novotny (22)
Jacob Lissek (26)
2018 Grade: B-
Projected N3Y Grade: B-
Bill says: In a surprising turn of events, Matt Turner started the year for the Revs until a string of poor performances saw Knighton earn seven starts before the end of the year. It’s not quite as stable of a goalkeeping situation that Manager Brad Friedel would like to have. Turner is likely to be the starter for 2019 but the bigger question is if New England are happy with their setup and if not, how could they add a goalkeeper in smoothly. Cropper seems like he could be meant for greener pastures and with Hartford Athletic joining USL play, New England may try to find a hidden gem in this year’s draft class.
Dec 12: When you look across the league and see how much teams are spending on the position and see how much of a return the Revs got on so little money, it’s truly impressive. Hopefully New England can build on the success and not be content with where they ended up.
Jan 14: Cropper doesn’t seem like a viable starting option with Turner on the books and with Knighton at 33, their goalkeeping core will probably be drastically different in 2020. Turner was a great pickup, but they need a little more. Projected N3Y Grade: B-
Feb 3: Hartford is rounding out its roster with three goalkeepers, implying they won’t be using much of the Revolution’s leftovers. Mike Novotny returns from Sweden and is joined by Jacob Lissek and Frederik Due, a Danish goalkeeper likely handpicked by former MLS goalkeeper and Hartford coach Jimmy Neilsen himself.
Feb 5: U17 academy keeper Eliot Jones is in camp.
New York City FC
Starter: Sean Johnson (29)
Backup: Brad Stuver (27)
In Reserve: Luis Barraza (22)
Jeff Caldwell (22, on loan to Memphis)
Coach: Rob Vartughian
Johan Penaranda (Pittsburgh, FR)
In: Luis Barraza (drafted, 1st round)
Out: Andre Rawls (28, option declined, selected in re-entry draft)
USL Affiliate: San Antonio FC
Diego Restrepo (30)
2018 Grade: D+
Projected N3Y Grade: C
Bill says: NYC’s affiliate situation is odd, to say the least. Reported they’re not quite near having their own USL side, they’ve sent Rawls to Orange County (LAFC’s affiliate) and kept promising young prospect Jeff Caldwell in-house for the entirety of 2018 and allowing him zero professional starts for the year. It’s a hard sell to think that only training environments for Caldwell would be better off for him in the long run. Perhaps NYC could learn a lesson from San Jose or Colorado on how not to devalue young goalkeepers.
Dec 10: Jeff Caldwell - currently sitting on a $54,500 contract - is available for the expansion draft. He’s the top pick for my money, especially considering how cheap he is. Cincinnati will be able to find a relatively (if not free) veteran in the coming months while Caldwell is a goalkeeper with some massive upside.
Dec 13: Rawls officially not returning as he’s selected in the re-entry draft. Rawls earned zero starts for NYC, spending his entire career in the USL thus far.
Jan 11: NYC has yet to have a notable, successful run with any goalkeeper in their short history. Drafting a fourth after not utilizing their USL affiliate at all last season doesn’t seem to be pointing towards a winning success. San Antonio is sitting on only one goalkeeper at the moment but don’t forget that Jeff Caldwell is still waiting to get his first professional start.
Jan 14: I’m suspect that City is going to handle their youngsters well but assuming they’ll do an adequate job, they’re doing well enough for themselves. Projected N3Y Grade: C
New York Red Bulls
Starter: Luis Robles (34)
Backup: Ryan Meara (28)
In Reserve: Evan Louro (22)
Rashid Nuhu (23)
Coach: Preston Burpo
Tomas Lapinas (George Mason, SR)
Ethan Koehler (Georgetown, SO)
Xavier Kennedy (Ohio State, SO)
Matthew Frank (Stanford, FR)
Steven Ortiz (Fairleigh Dickinson, FR)
Sam Ilin (LIU Brooklyn, FR)
In: Rashid Nuhu (drafted, third round)
USL Affiliate: New York Red Bulls II
Louro (26 starts)
2018 Grade: C-
Projected N3Y Grade: C+
Bill says: Overall it felt like a fairly underwhelming year from Robles and the three games Meara received he looked a step behind. Despite getting plenty of time in USL, Louro doesn’t look like he’s on track to replace Robles. The Red Bulls had highly touted collegiate goalkeepers Rashid Nuhu and Dayne St. Clair with the U23s this summer so they’re clearly aware of young goalkeepers, but they’re struggling to get the right return so far.
Dec 10: The Red Bulls protect all three goalkeepers for the draft which seems like one too many for where they are with their core right now. Either pave a way for one of the youngsters or move on to another project.
Jan 14: Rashid Nuhu drafted, a great pickup that’ll boost their N3Y Grade a bit, but it still doesn’t look like the Red Bulls have a solid exit plan from Robles. Meara has gotten so little time in his career, I doubt they’ll see him as a successor. Louro and Nuhu are still years away, which may mean Robles starting longer than he should. I’m not optimistic but here’s hoping. Projected N3Y Grade: C+
Orlando City SC
Starter: Brian Rowe (30)
Backup: Adam Grinwis (26)
Greg Ranjitsingh (25)
In Reserve: Mason Stajduhar (21)
Coach: Thabane Sutu
Justin Bauer (South Carolina, SO)
In: Brian Rowe (signed)
Out: Joe Bendik (29, option declined)
Earl Edwards (26, out of contract, traded to DC)
USL Affiliate: Orlando City B
Juliano Chade (20)
Christian Herrera (21)
Luca Mancuso (17)
2018 Grade: D+
Projected N3Y Grade: B
Bill says: Bendik is out and I would be surprised if Edwards returned either, who didn’t look sharp in his 4.5 games this year. Orlando had wisely signed Grinwis for peanuts ($67,500) and he’s definitely played above his value. I’ve always liked Griniws since his days in Michigan and was glad to see he finished the season as the starter. However, It’s tough to say Grinwis impressed too much as he only earned four points in five games but the team was already looking towards 2019 at that point so the jury is still out. Personally I thought he looked like an MLS starter in the last game of the season but time will tell how Orlando approaches filling the gaps. I would guess they try for another cheap, youngster and then a goalkeeper in the $150,000-$200,000 range, depending on how confident they are with the replacement. Fortunately Orlando is reviving their OCB side so any young goalkeepers they bring in surely will get some playing time.
Lastly, Orlando City had a wonderful video package on Mason Stajduhar, who is still fighting bone cancer and training with Orlando when he can. It’s an unbelievable story of determination in the face of an undeserved setback.
Dec 10: Bendik is on a bit of a contract ($189,000) and while Cincinnati can renegotiate, I’d be surprised if Bendik came below $150,000, which would likely make him a little too expensive for Cincinnati. Either way, it sounds like Bendik is walking from Orlando still. They did hold onto Grinwis, which sounds like he will be given a fair shake at the starting gig for 2019.
Dec 12: Giving Orlando City a “D+” may feel overly nice considering the band seems to be breaking up, but the former Lions didn’t dig themselves into a hole this year. Yes, the defense was below par but the goalkeeping department wasn’t terrible and the team didn’t overcommit with contracts. And perhaps more importantly, Orlando gave Edwards and Grinwis a solid look before the season’s end. When they knew Bendik wasn’t the answer, they exhausted all their options instead of coming into 2019 thinking wondering who could take over.
Dec 19: Orlando receives a second round pick for Edwards, which you have to assume is for his performance with the US U17s and not last season, and also pick up two-time USL Champion Greg Ranjitsingh for free. Despite the hardware, Grinwis is a level above Ranjitsingh for my money, although Orlando could certainly use someone with confidence in net and the latest newcomer will be given a hard look.
As an aside, compare Orlando’s goalkeeping situation to DC’s. DC got in too deep with some of their contracts, will likely have to eat some of Ousted’s to send him out, and have now sent a draft pick to Orlando for their new back up. In contrast, Orlando’s two rosters goalkeepers were free USL pickups and have increased their hand come draft day by picking up a draft pick. DC is buying up Orlando’s leftovers while Orlando is wisely looking at free options to test out. The Lions may still bring in an experienced veteran to cap off the position but by doing all the little things right, it gives them the freedom to raise the ceiling at the top.
Dec 19: Orlando’s SB Nation blog lists three candidates to be the third goalkeeper on the books. These are probably the three most unlikely goalkeepers anyone could think of but still a fun list.
Jan 7: Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi on Orlando’s goalkeeping situation, “Yes, I am. We have three guys who are really good goalkeepers. Mason (Stajduhar) is back and fully healthy. I met Adam (Grinwis) training. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t be looking at a goalkeeper eventually but that’s not our top priority right now. We may end up getting somebody else. Right now we have three quality goalkeepers and if any one of the three has to play, I’m very comfortable with any one of the three.”
Stajduhar coming in healthy is a completely insane story. Who knows if he’ll start or not but overcoming cancer is already an unbelievable accomplishment.
Jan 23: Pro Soccer USA reporting that Delaware graduate Todd Morton is in camp with Orlando. Morton would be a great addition for the OCSC2 squad.
A couple quotes from Grinwis, “I think, coming off of last season, it was my goal to come in here and re-earn the starting shirt. I know that’s not an easy thing in MLS, especially with only a few games under your belt, but I felt really confident with how my games went last year and I’ve worked incredibly hard this offseason... [Preseason training has] been fun. It’s been hard work. I think we all have similar mentalities in how we like to go about training. Thabane has been pushing us. Greg and Mason have been fantastic. Todd, the other goalkeeper who has been training with us, unbelievable. All in all, it’s been a very productive preseason so far.”
The current goalkeeper coach Thabane Sutu replaces Tim Mulqeen, who left for Memphis’ new USL team.
Jan 29: Brian Rowe has been training with Orlando. It certain ways it makes sense by bringing in a veteran but however high of a level they feel they’ll get with Rowe, I can’t imagine it’ll be any higher than whoever ends up as the number one between the current three. It’s not a dreadful move, but it does feel a little superfluous.
Feb 9: After Todd Morton signed with RSL, all four goalkeepers (including Brian Rowe) have apparently been neck-and-neck in competition for the starting spot. Of course this is a little bit of player service as someone is in the lead. Grinwis still seems like the front runner to me. If Rowe does end up starting, I can’t imagine he doesn’t get usurped. Stajduhar is surely least likely but right now it’s hard to pick a clear number one.
Feb 16: For all that talk about how well the three goalkeepers were competing, I’m not sure how much of it to buy with Brian Rowe heading in. He may end up being a trustworthy backup, sure, but it does sound like a lot of money ($150,000+) for a benchwarmer. If he ends up starting, you won’t see any eye-popping responses from me. I don’t love the move, as it blocks the other three from shining with a goalkeeper who hasn’t been in favor for some time, but perhaps Rowe will be able to bring something fresh to the table. Orlando could still use one more goalkeeper so we’ll hold off on the N3Y grade for now.
Feb 19: Brian Rowe really likes sunscreen.
Feb 20: Three goalkeepers announced for the OCB squad, which brings Orlando’s goalkeeping core to a grand total of seven, the most of an MLS-USL B team in MLS history I’m pretty sure. Of the three new goalkeepers, I’m not a massive fan of either Brazilian youth international Juliano Chade (20) nor Christian Herrera (21) but they’re young enough they’re worth a second look. The last goalkeeper, Luca Mancuso (17), will most likely never amount to a start, based off of similar circumstances with other MLS teams.
Overall it’s an interesting bunch but it’s always a juggling act with developing/maintaining goalkeepers. The real litmus test is how many goalkeepers stick and actually contribute to Orlando City. I’ll be surprised if three of the seven goalkeepers are still around in 2021 but if they can get at least one youngster to move up to a legitimate starter, it’s a success. Projected N3Y Grade: B
Feb 22: Brian Rowe is now official.
Starter: Andre Blake (Jamaica, 28)
Backup: Carlos Miguel (Brazil, 22)
In Reserve: Matt Freese (20)
Coach: Tim Hanley
Cameron Keys (La Salle, SR)
Andrew Verdi (Michigan, JR)
Jahmali Waite (Jamaica, Fairleigh Dickinson, SO)
Matt Freeze (Harvard, SO)
Tomas Romero (Georgetown, HS.SR)
Brady McSwain (Cornell, HS.SR)
Kris Shakes (Penn State, HS.SR)
In: Matt Freese (homegrown contract)
Carlos Miguel (loan from RB Salzburg, Austria)
Out: John McCarthy (26, out of contract)
Jake McGuire (24, option declined)
USL Affiliate: Bethlehem Steel
2018 Grade: C
Projected N3Y Grade: tba
Bill says: McCarthy is out of contract while the Union opted to decline McGuire’s option, meaning that they’re moving on without him or, more likely, they’re re-negotiating his contract to replace McCarthy. Blake had a respectable year - not quite $500,000 worth but not awful - but for Philadelphia to have a real success with Blake he either needs to contend for GOTY every year or they sell him for at least seven figures. I don’t really see either of those two happening at this point.
On a minor note, the Union has an interesting batch of young goalkeepers. While Keys and Verdi have been relegated to backup roles, Freeze and Romero are two very talented goalkeepers that have a decent shot of landing with Philadelphia down the line.
Dec 10: McGuire available for the expansion draft. Similar to Houston’s Michael Nelson, it could be an option if Cincinnati is looking for a young goalkeeper.
Dec 21: The Union signs Matt Freese to a homegrown contract and the soon-to-be junior goalkeeper will skip his last two years of college ball. This is an excellent signing and, for the current environment, an idealized approach for young goalkeepers: send the kid out for a couple years, let him get some games under his belt (which wouldn’t happen if he’s just sitting in USL), and then bring him into a higher environment early instead of waiting 4-5 years. It’s still unclear what Freese’s ceiling really is, but at the very least he seems McCarthy-level if not higher. Freese was ranked fifth in the sophomore class last month.
An interesting tidbit from The Crimson, “Freese holds a German passport, which would make a move to Europe in the future much more realistic, as work permits can be hard to acquire for non-Europeans. Freese briefly hinted at interest from other clubs besides the Union and Manchester United, but didn’t go into detail. Having a European passport could make it easier for Freese to make the transition into playing for a European team, but for now, Matt is excited about his professional career at the Union.”
Jan 22: McGuire signs overseas in a fairly low level, which is a bit of a head scratcher. It doesn’t sound like a higher level than USL but Philadelphia probably didn’t give him a reason to stay if that’s his new team. An odd next step, either way you slice it.
Jan 24: Brazilian Carlos Miguel Coronel hits the Pacific coast on a one year loan from Austria. I think Philly could do a little better given the market but it’s certainly a positive step for the league. He’s a high USL-low MLS talent that could maybe bump up a little higher if dynamos fall the right way. The timing is a bit odd, as it almost sounds like Andre Blake could be out the door, which would be smart on the Union’s part. The summer is likely the last time the Union could receive as substantial transfer fee for the Jamaican goalkeeper.
Jan 31: John McCarthy leaves a touching goodbye before heading to Tampa Bay.
Feb 2: Freese and Tomas Romero split time in a scrimmage against DC United. Romero could be another home grown option for the Union but I haven’t seen any reports about it yet.
Feb 26: Bethlehem still haven’t announced any goalkeepers officially but Tomas Romero (18) and Kris Shakes (17) have been involved in more than one preseason match over the past month. This is exactly the type of goalkeepers Philadelphia should be looking at for their USL side.
Starter: Jeff Attinella (30)
Backup: Aljaž Ivačič (Slovenia, 25)
In Reserve: Kendall McIntosh (24)
Coach: Guillermo "Memo" Valencia
Trevor Wilson (DePaul, JR)
Toby Holstein (Gonzaga, JR)
Joe Wheelwright (Utah Valley, SO)
Zachary Nelson (Xavier, SO)
Zachary Morris (Rider, SO)
Eric Cotton (Western Michigan, Canada, FR)
Broden Schull (VMI, FR)
In: Jake Leeker (signs with Portland 2)
Out: Jake Gleeson (New Zealand, 28, out of contract)
Steve Clark (32, out of contract)
USL Affiliate: Portland Timbers 2
Kendall McIntosh (17 starts)
Jake Leeker (23)
2018 Grade: B-
Projected N3Y Grade: B+
Bill says: We’re still waiting on Portland’s roster update but it would appear that Gleeson and Clark are battling for the same spot. Both are on similar money and Gleeson should be healthy this month and certainly by next season. The likely victor will come down to how the contracts play out. If one is out, or can have their option declined, Portland isn’t going to want to keep three goalkeepers with $120,000 contracts on the books. McIntosh was outplayed by Mangels with the USL side, the latter being a goalkeeper Portland casually picked up in last year’s offseason.
It all feels a little shoot-from-the-hip-ish in Portland, which has its pros and cons. It allowed Attinella to prove himself, leading the team to the MLS Cup, but also doesn’t give off the impression they have a clear plan three years or months from now.
Dec 10: Some intuitive contract planning by Portland to keep contracts with Gleeson and Clark short. It doesn’t rule out the possibility of them returning, but it definitely lessens it. Portland is likely looking to spend $80,000-$100,000 on their backup, a notable pay cut for both goalkeepers.
Jan 15: Slovenian site says 25 year old Aljaž Ivačič has signed with Portland, which is a bit of a head-scratcher. He doesn’t seem to have the mobility to play in MLS but then again, it’s easy enough to flip a 25 year old in three years for profit. It looks like the plan is to get him ready for 2020 but with him being all over the place technically, that may be a bit of a chore. Not the worst signing, but it does feel like they could have gotten a little better for their money’s worth at a $250K transfer fee and $150 salary.
Jan 18: Ivačič to Portland finalized. I’m intrigued by the move to say the least. With Mangels and Pack still on the USL squad, we’ll tag the Timbers with a B+. Letting Attinella continue on while they have his replacement in the wings. The USL side is a little underwhelming but at least the Timbers have a clear plan of action moving forward. Projected N3Y Grade: B+
Edit: Mangels has signed with Chattanooga’s new USL team. This doesn’t change much for the Timbers, as there are plenty of U26 goalkeepers floating around and Mangels wasn’t on track to take over the MLS spot.
Jan 30: Jake Leeker signs with the USL team. Leeker played 17 matches for Real Monarchs last year but will, at best, be splitting time with McIntosh, if not also Ivačič.
Real Salt Lake
Starter: Nick Rimando (39)
Backup: Alex Horwath (31)
Andrew Putna (24)
In Reserve: David Ochoa (17)
Coach: Todd Hoffard
Gage Rogers (California Baptist, SO)
Jared Osgood (St. Louis, SO)
Jacob Jackson (Loyola Marymount, FR)
In: David Ochoa (homegrown)
Out: Connor Sparrow (24, option declined)
USL Affiliate: Real Monarchs
Todd Morton (23)
2018 Grade: B
Projected N3Y Grade: B+
Bill says: Somehow Rimando had a very underwhelming 2017 then followed it up with a top-five performance in 2018. Of course, he gets overlooked again and I have no clue what it means for 2019, but he did more than earn his paycheck last year.
A knee injury derailed Sparrow’s 2018, where he was playing well for himself. Alex Horwath is still on roster but unless an injury hits Rimando, Horwath is likely to come and go from the come without much of a noise. Real Monarchs started Jake Leeker for half the season but he’s not slated to return as of right now. Ochoa is still quite green so RSL would do themselves a favor in picking up goalkeeper a year or two out of college to supplement Ochoa’s maturing process, or even pen recently graduated Luis Barraza to a homegrown contract.
Dec 10: I foolishly left off Andrew Putna, who just finished his second year within the RSL organization but only has 9 career games played. Putna spent most of 2018 with the parent squad after Horwath went down with an injury and even earned a game and a half with the first team. The outlook on Putna is a little tough to say. He looked fine in his three halves but RSL hasn’t invested in him to the point where they are expecting a return. Ochoa won’t be ready for a few years so unless Rimando is going to play until he’s 45, they’re going to have to lean on someone over the next 5-6 years.
All Horwath, Sparrow, Putna, and Jake Leeker are available for the expansion draft, giving more weight to RSL’s lack of trust in any of them replacing Rimando.
Dec 19: I’m not sure how likely it is that Barraza will be picked up by RSL with his homegrown contract possibility, but regardless he had a nice write up by AS Futbol.
Jan 30: Ochoa called up to the U18s.
Feb 8: Todd Morton rounds out the roster and I absolutely love this pick up. Morton is a rare breed of a goalkeeper with size and agility who also comes from a goalkeeping family. (Older brother Kyle Morton is returning to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds this year.) Coming off a dreadful senior season where the Blue Hens finished 5-11-1, Morton’s stock surely took a hit. Personally Morton checks more boxes for me than Ochoa does but either way, Real Salt Lake seems to have finally invested in their youth. RSL may have a rough transition period from whenever they move on from Rimando. However, they just need one from Putna, Morton, and Ochoa to work out, so they’re in a good spot. Projected N3Y Grade: B+
San Jose Earthquakes
Starter: Daniel Vega (Argentina, 34)
Backup: JT Marcinkowski (21)
Andrew Tarbell (25)
In Reserve: Matt Bersano (26)
Coach: Carlos Roa, Jyri Nieminen
Remi Prieur (Saint Mary’s, JR)
Drake Callender (California, JR)
Dominic Peters (Wake Forest, FR)
Cameron Douglas (UCLA, FR)
Andre Wangard (Louisville, FR)
Ben Ayers (California, FR)
Victor Juarez (UNLV, FR)
In: Daniel Vega (signed)
USL Affiliate: Reno 1868 FC
2018 Grade: D-
Projected N3Y Grade: D+
Bill says: It’s a little odd that San Jose went way out of their way to pick up Andrew Tarbell when they had Marcinkowski coming up through the ranks but it’s even odder that the Earthquakes didn’t have an endgame in mind. Sure, maybe pick up the hottest commodity in the draft, but don’t let your investment go to waste within two years time. Tarbell was not developed well and simply put the responsibility is on San Jose. I suppose it’s not surprising the same organization that mishandled David Bingham is the one who mishandled Tarbell. We know Tarbell can play, as he’s shown in the past, so either the Earthquakes should have shipped him out when his value was still high or better prepared him for 2018. In hindsight, it seems like having him sit all of 2016 and half of 2017 wasn’t the best plan.
Both Marcinkowski and Tarbell are set to enter camp next March, where there will be plenty of quotes about it being an open competition, but the reality is that it San Jose is hoping Marcinkowski is ready to go for 2019.
Jan 14: Marcinkowski will be a strong goalkeeper, but he’s still very young. These next few years will be troublesome if they’re expecting him to start full-time, if not end up in a Zac MacMath situation. San Jose’s future in goalkeeping is murky to say the least. Tarbell could turn it around or Bersano could pull it out, but the odds aren’t in their favor. Projected N3Y Grade: D+
Jan 18: Daniel Vega brought in and all I can ask is “Why why why why?” Clearly one - if not two - of these goalkeepers are going out to Reno but is this really the best use of the Earthquakes’ money? Vega is a fine USL goalkeeper who does not need to be on an MLS contract.
Starter: Stefan Frei (32)
Backup: Bryan Meredith (29)
In Reserve: Trey Muse (19, on loan to Tacoma)
Coach: Tom Dutra
Ben Willis (Gonzaga, SR)
Paul Lewis (Loyola Marymount, JR)
Saif Kerawala (Washington, JR)
Tor Saunders (Akron, SO)
Sam Fowler (Washington, HS.SR)
Robert Harraka (Harvard, HS.SR)
Out: Calle Brown (26, option declined)
USL Affiliate: Tacoma Defiance
Sam Fowler (18)
Jacob Castro (19)
2018 Grade: B+
Projected N3Y Grade: B-
Bill says: There was a bit of discourse on the Swiss-American goalkeeper but Frei was a real bright spot for me this season but looking forward, things look grim. This is the same organization that completely whiffed on Tyler Miller despite having him for two years. The Sounders found four games between two teenager goalkeepers Sam Fowler and Jacob Castro but the Sounders seem to still be searching for their footing going forward. Signing Trey Muse to a homegrown contract would be a positive step but something tells me they’re going to need more than one young signing to right the ship with their youth goalkeeping development.
Jan 2: Travis Clark tabs Trey Muse as the second best homegrown-eligible collegiate player. With an empty S2 right now, it could be a decent fit for the Hoosier.
Jan 7: To no real surprise, Brian Sciaretta is reporting Trey Muse is close to signing a homegrown contract.
Jan 15: The Trey Muse signing is now official. He should be the main goalkeeper at S2.
Mar 9: Tacoma brought in high school senior Sam Fowler (Washington commit), Jacob Castro (academy product), and have Trey Muse on loan. It’s a really strong core, but there’s still a bit of a gap time-wise with handing the reins off from Frei. Muse needs five years, which puts Frei at 37. They need to figure out the stopgap in between but otherwise they’ve done a good job building their USL side out. Projected N3Y Grade: B-
Sporting Kansas City
Starter: Tim Melia (31)
Backup: Adrian Zendejas (23)
In Reserve: Eric Dick (24)
Coach: Alec Dufty
Dakotah Bainter (UNC Asheville, JR)
Steven Tekesky (West Virginia, SO)
Freddy Lorenzen (Milwaukee, SO)
Alec Wons (Marquette, FR)
Alex Brown (Coastal Carolina, FR)
Connor Jordan-Hyde (Virginia Tech, FR)
USL Affiliate: Swope Park Rangers
Eric Dick (13 starts)
Adrian Zendejas (12 starts)
2018 Grade: B+
Projected N3Y Grade: tba
Bill says: It’s always tough to follow up a Goalkeeper of the Year performance but Melia did well in goal this year. With no real doubt of him losing his starting spot until 2020 at the earliest. Dick and Zendejas battled it out at Swope Park, earning almost even playing time, which means they both were playing so well it was hard to pick or both were a little shaky and the coaches kept searching for the hot hand. It was a “boring” year for SKC narrative-wise, but one that may pay off in a couple years when the Wiz look to move on from Melia.
Starter: Alex Bono (24)
Backup: Quentin Westberg (32)
In Reserve: Caleb Patterson-Sewell (31)
Coach: Jon Conway
Brogan Engbers (Liberty, Canada, SO)
Rimi Olatunji (Providence, Canada, FR)
Gianluca Catalano (Connecticut, Canada, FR)
In: Quentin Westberg (signed)
Out: Clint Irwin (28, option declined, traded to Colorado)
USL Affiliate: Toronto FC II
Caleb Patterson-Sewell (19 starts)
Eric Klenofsky (24)
2018 Grade: C
Projected N3Y Grade: tba
Bill says: Bono was the flavor of the month for most 2017 with the media but with a poor showing by the team as a whole, Bono has been shelved for the time being. He certainly showed flashes of being a USMNT contender but he’s going to need Toronto to help him raise his profile back up. Toronto wisely declined Irwin’s contract extension (the backup was on $220,000) but he seems to have gained Toronto’s favor so I wouldn’t be surprised if they brought him back on a drastically reduced salary. He’s a trustworthy backup and a positive veteran to help keep pushing Bono forward.
A minor note was 2018 draftee Drew Shepherd lodging only 16 minutes before going down with a season-ending injury. He had the talent to steady Toronto’s USL side, if not more, so here’s hoping he can bounce back for a strong 2019.
Dec 13: You know you’ve done a good job when you’re able to trade an out of contract player and get something in return. Even though Toronto held Irwin’s rights, typically players whose options aren’t picked up are allowed to walk for free.
Jan 1: Matt Doyle projects Toronto to pick up Maryland goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair with the sixth overall pick. St. Clair is a tricky situation as he would count for an international player for any American team but for Toronto (or any other Canadian-based team) he won’t. Doyle says “it's a nice confluence of need + talent” but I don’t get the sense that Toronto needs a twenty-one year old goalkeeper to fix their alignments. Sixth overall seems a bit high and with Toronto’s crowded TF2 roster a bit unlikely, but he’s as heralded as Andre Blake was coming out of school so it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Jan 30: Eric Klenofsky, Charlie Lyon, and Alex Capp (Alex Kapp?) are in camp, apparently, and after Bono looked awful in the 5-1 loss to preseason giants Las Vegas Lights, they may want to bring in some more. Lyon and Kapp didn’t receive much of a chance last year while Klenofsky returns from a turbulent time in Israel. Klenofsky looked very good for what little he had to work with last year, while Lyon and Kapp have shown positive signs in the past but may have stalled in their development. Either way, whoever Toronto signs will have a great underdog narrative waiting for them.
February 14: It’s been a rough start for Bono and while there won’t be an update after every game, he’s now had two games where he’s conceded at least four goals and the season hasn’t even started yet. He certainly looked better in the CCL match versus Atletico Independiente, but let’s just say his starting spot has become all the more shakier and it’s not even March yet.
February 19: Quentin Westberg has been linked with Toronto now. The almost 33-year-old seemed be on his way out with second division French side AJ Auxerre and is a step above Patterson-Sewell. With Klenofsky not yet signed but assuming that’s a near done deal, Toronto needs one more goalkeeper, which will probably be an academy kid.
Starter: Maxime Crepeau (24)
Backup: Zac MacMath (27)
In Reserve: Sean Melvin (24)
Thomas Hasal (19)
Coach: Youssef Dahha
Trevor Schneider (UTRGV, Canada, Vancouver, 18)
In: Zac MacMath (traded from Colorado)
Maxime Crepeau (traded from Montreal)
Thomas Hasal (signed)
Out: Stefan Marinovic (New Zealand, 27, option declined)
Brian Rowe (30, out of contract)
Spencer Richey (26, traded to Cincinnati)
USL Affiliate: Fresno FC
2018 Grade: C-
Projected N3Y Grade: B-
Bill says: Ahhh they’re outta here. Vancouver cleans house for the second year in a row after missing the playoffs. Marinovic was conceding over two goals a game and Rowe was getting even less playing time than him.
Dec 9: Whoa big day for the Whitecaps. MacMath and Crepeau brought in and the Whitecaps had to spend $150,000, a midfielder (9 games played), and a third-round draft pick for the two goalkeepers. A decent swap. I don’t know if MacMath + Crepeau are going to be able to shore up one of the worst defenses in the league but it’s a start. After being tired of sitting on the bench for so many years, it’ll be interesting to see how MacMath approaches his newfound lifeline. For my money, MacMath is the better goalkeeper but I wouldn’t rule out some growing pains in the first couple games, which could leave the door open for Crepeau to steal the starting spot.
Dec 12: The goalkeeper coach from the Ottawa Fury follows Crepeau over, giving some indication that Vancouver is leaning towards, at the very least, splitting time between the two.
Jan 14: An odd goalkeeping core to say the least. There might be some growing pains but I really like how the Whitecaps have essentially rounded up two polarizing goalkeepers and - I’m assuming - told them “Whoever is hot, we’re playing them.” Projected N3Y Grade: C+
Feb 1: Academy keeper Thomas Hasal (19) is in camp with Vancouver right now. Hasal is a pretty decent talent for his age so hopefully they can find a place for him.
Mar 7: I like Hasal a lot so he signalhandedly bumps the grade up. Projected N3Y Grade: B-