2019 MLS Goalkeeper Roundup

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-

Seattle Sounders 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-

Houston Dynamo C+ / B+
Atlanta United C+ / B+
Philadelphia C
Toronto FC C
Chicago Fire C / D+
New York Red Bulls C- / C+
Vancouver Whitecaps C- / C+

Orlando City D+
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.

Atlanta United

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)
Dylan Castanheira

Youth Prospects
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+

 

Chicago Fire

Starter: David Ousted (Denmark, 34)
Backup:
Richard Sanchez (24)
In Reserve:
Stefan Cleveland (24)
Coach: 
Aleksandar Saric

Youth Prospects
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)

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+

FC Cincinnati

Starter: Przemyslaw Tyton (31, Poland)
Backup:
Spencer Richey (26)
In Reserve:
Jimmy Hauge (22), Ben Lundt (German, 23)
Coach: 
Jack Stern

Youth Prospects
none

In: Spencer Richey (traded from Vancouver)
Przemyslaw Tyton (free transfer)
Jimmy Hauge (drafted, 2nd round)
Ben Lundt (drafted, 2nd round)

Out: none

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.”

 

Colorado Rapids

Starter: Tim Howard (39)
Backup:
Clint Irwin (29)
In Reserve:
Andre Rawls (29)
Coach: 
Chris Sharpe

Youth Prospects
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.

 

Columbus Crew

Starter: Zack Steffen (23)
Backup:
Joe Bendik (29) / Jon Kempin (25)
In Reserve: Ben Lundgaard (23)
Coach: 
Matt Reis

Youth Prospects
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.

 

D.C. United

Starter: Bill Hamid (28)
Backup:
Chris Seitz (31)
In Reserve:
Earl Edwards (26)
Coach: 
Zach Thornton

Youth Prospects
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)

In: none

Out: Travis Worra (25, out of contract)
David Ousted (33, Denmark, traded to Chicago)

USL Affiliate: Loudoun United
Calle Brown (26)

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.

FC Dallas

Starter: Jesse Gonzalez (23)
Backup:
Jimmy Maurer (31)
In Reserve:
Kyle Zobeck (28)
Coach: Drew Keeshan

Youth Prospects
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)

In: none

Out: none

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+

Houston Dynamo

Starter: Joe Willis (30)
Backup:
Tyler Deric (30)
In Reserve:
Michael Nelson (23)
Coach: 
Paul Rogers

Youth Prospects
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: 
none
Coach:
Zak Abdel

Youth Prospects
none

In: Pablo Sisniega (signed)

Out: Charlie Lyon (26, option declined)
Quillan Roberts (24, Canada, option declined)
Luis Lopez (25, Honduras, loan expired)

USL Affiliate: Orange County SC
Andre Rawls (28, on loan from NYC)
Bennett Sneddon (21)

2018 Grade: A-
Projected N3Y Grade:
tba

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.

Los Angeles Galaxy

Starter: David Bingham (29)
Backup:
Matt Lampson (29)
In Reserve:
Justin vom Steeg (21)
Coach: 
Oka Nikolov

Youth Prospects
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)
Wade Hamilton (24, likely not returning)

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.

 

Minnesota United

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)

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+

Montreal Impact

Starter: Evan Bush (32)
Backup:
Clement Diop (France, 25)
In Reserve:
James Pantemis (Canada, 21)
Jason Beaulieu (Canada, 24)
Coach: 
Joël Bats

In: none

Out: Maxime Crepeau (Canada, 24, traded to Vancouver)

USL Affiliate: Ottawa Fury
Maxime Crepeau (likely won’t return)

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

Youth Prospects
Austin Aviza (Connecticut, JR)
Eddie Walsh (Xavier, SO)
Trey Miller (Massachusetts, FR)
Matt Tibbetts (Holy Cross, FR)

In: none

Out: none

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: 
Jeff Caldwell (22), Luis Barraza (22)
Coach: 
Rob Vartughian

Youth Prospects
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

Jan 28: Barraza officially signs. U19 Alex Rando is in camp with NYC.

 

New York Red Bulls

Starter: Luis Robles (34)
Backup:
Ryan Meara (28)
In Reserve:
Evan Louro (22), Rashid Nuhu (23)
Coach: 
Preston Burpo

Youth Prospects
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)

Out: none

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

Youth Prospects
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
will start play in 2019

2018 Grade: D+
Projected N3Y Grade:
tba

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.

Philadelphia Union

Starter: Andre Blake (Jamaica, 28)
Backup:
Carlos Miguel (Brazil, 22)
In Reserve:
Matt Freese (20)
Coach: 
Tim Hanley

Youth Prospects
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
none rostered

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.

Portland Timbers

Starter: Jeff Attinella (30)
Backup:
Aljaž Ivačič (Slovenia, 25)
In Reserve:
Kendall McIntosh (24)
Coach:
 Guillermo "Memo" Valencia

Youth Prospects
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)
Austin Pack (24, 1 start)
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

Youth Prospects
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: TBD
Backup:
JT Marcinkowski (21) / Andrew Tarbell (25)
In Reserve:
Daniel Vega (Argentina, 34) / Matt Bersano (26)
Coach:
Carlos Roa, Jyri Nieminen

Youth Prospects
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)

Out: none

USL Affiliate: Reno 1868 FC
JT Marcinkowski

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.

Seattle Sounders

Starter: Stefan Frei (32)
Backup:
Bryan Meredith (29)
In Reserve:
Trey Muse (19)
Coach: 
Tom Dutra

Youth Prospects
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)

In: none

Out:
Calle Brown (26, option declined)

USL Affiliate: Seattle II
Calle Brown (21 starts)

2018 Grade: B+
Projected N3Y Grade:
tba

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.

Sporting Kansas City

Starter: Tim Melia (31)
Backup:
TBD
In Reserve:
Eric Dick (24) / Adrian Zendejas (23)
Coach:
 Alec Dufty

Youth Prospects
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)

In: none

Out:
none

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.

Toronto FC

Starter: Alex Bono (24)
Backup:
Caleb Patterson-Sewell (31)
In Reserve:
none
Coach:
 Jon Conway

Youth Prospects
Brogan Engbers (Liberty, Canada, SO)
Rimi Olatunji (Providence, Canada, FR)
Gianluca Catalano (Connecticut, Canada, FR)

In: none

Out: Clint Irwin (28, option declined, traded to Colorado)

USL Affiliate: Toronto FC II
Caleb Patterson-Sewell (19 starts)
Drew Shepherd (24, 1 start)

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.

Vancouver Whitecaps

Starter: TBD
Backup: 
Zac MacMath (27) / Maxime Crepeau (24)
In Reserve:
Sean Melvin (24)
Coach: 
Youssef Dahha

Youth Prospects
Trevor Schneider (UTRGV, Canada, Vancouver, 18)

In: Zac MacMath (traded from Colorado)
Maxime Crepeau (traded from Montreal)

Out: Stefan Marinovic (New Zealand, 27, option declined)
Brian Rowe (30, out of contract)
Spencer Richey (26, traded to Cincinnati)

USL Affiliate: Fresno FC
Kyle Reynish

2018 Grade: C-
Projected N3Y Grade:
C+

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.

2018 MLS Goalkeeper Roundup

The past couple years I've done a rundown of all the offseason transitions, rumors, and wild speculations for goalkeepers in MLS, NASL, USL, and the NWSL. This year I'm dropping the NASL, USL, and NWSL coverage for a couple reasons. First, there is no rumor mill to go off of, which of course everyone knows that MLS is great at stirring up endless rumors. Secondly, NASL, USL, and NWSL rosters are typically played out. You know who the starter will be and which goalkeeper will ride the bench the whole season. There's not much speculation to do for the majority of teams. So this year we're just diving into MLS rosters.

To start off, I've given grades to every MLS team on their goalkeeping development. The grade includes the game performance but also off-field issues like salaries, depth, and general management of the goalkeepers. If a team has found success on the field but have problems away from the pitch, the grade will reflect according. Scroll down to each team to see a review of the previous season, plus speculation on where the team is going.

Like in the past, this page will update over the next couple months as rosters change.

 

Goalkeeper Grades
2017 season / 2018 offseason

Sporting Kansas City A+ / A+
Columbus Crew SC A- / A
New York City FC C- / A-

Minnesota United FC D+ / B+
San Jose Earthquakes C / B
FC Dallas C+ / B
Orlando City SC B- / B-
Houston Dynamo B / B-

 
Toronto FC B / C+
Atlanta United FC A / C+ 
Vancouver Whitecaps FC C / C
New York Red Bulls C / C
New England Revolution D / C
Chicago Fire C- / C
Portland Timbers B+ / C-
Philadelphia Union C+ / C-

Los Angeles FC F / D+
Seattle Sounders FC B- / D+
Real Salt Lake D / D
LA Galaxy D- / D
Montreal Impact D-

Colorado Rapids F / F
DC United F / F

 

Various League Rumors

December 22nd: Alex Horwath rumored to return to MLS. Horwath has been a backup goalkeeper with SK Brann since 2015.

December 28th: Polish goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton "mulling" over MLS offers. Tyton has 14 caps with the Polish national team.

January 17th: Honduran Luis Lopez has accepted a deal from MLS. Lopez has 12 caps with the Honduran national team.

January 18th: A young Jamaican goalkeeper, Jeadine White, misses the Caribbean Combine.

 

Atlanta United

Starter: Brad Guzan (33)
Backup: Alec Kann (27)
In Reserve: Mitch Hildebrandt (29)
Drafted: Paul Christensen (22)
Coach: Aron Hyde

In: Mitch Hildebrandt (signed)

Out: Kyle Reynish (33, out of contract)
Alexandros Tabakis (24, traded to SKC)

USL AffiliateAtlanta United II
Nicolas Caraux (France, 26)

2017 Grade: A

Bill says: Kann's starting tenure didn’t sink the ship by any means, but I do think he missed his opportunity to jump to a starting spot somewhere else. Guzan had a fantastic year and I think he’s definitely a frontrunner for 2018 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Tabakis doesn’t have the youth value Atlanta is looking for for the new USL side but they are trying to add three or four goalkeepers by the end of the offseason. They’ll probably pick one up in the draft and could even bring in homegrown U17 USYNT goalkeeper Justin Garces, who graduates high school this spring. Atlanta are probably a little disappointed they let 2017 draft pick Alex Kapp walk.

It's worth nothing that somehow Guzan only comes in at $400k. Rimando was $450k. It’s an unbelievable price for a goalkeeper of Guzan’s quality. Guzan can play for at least two more years until they find a quality replacement once. Hildebrandt was brought in but Garces is the only real long-term answer in Atlanta's house.

December 11th update: Atlanta trade Tabakis to Sporting. They need another two or three goalkeepers for the USL side.

December 12th update: Eric reminds me that Guzan was prorated for half the season and his contract will likely jump for 2018. But even at $800K or one million, it's a great price for a top goalkeeper in the league.

January 19th: The first two rounds come and go and Atlanta are probably disappointed they didn't land a goalkeeper. While there are still quality goalkeepers out there, no one was expecting so many goalkeepers to go in the first round.

January 21st: United selects Paul Christensen with the first pick of the fourth round.

February 6th: AU2 signs their first goalkeeper, French 26 year old Nicolas Caraux. I wish I could say I knew anything about Caraux but you're out of luck.

February 7th: Justin Garces commits to UCLA. Previous starter Kevin Silva has transferred to Rutgers although USYNT Cameron Douglas still remains on the roster.

 

Chicago Fire

Starter: TBD
Backup: Richard Sanchez (23)
In Reserve: Stefan Cleveland (23)
Coach: Aleksandar Saric

Youth Prospects
Kyle Dal Santo (SIUE, SR)
Sawyer Jackman (Florida Gulf Coast, JR)
Robbie White (Northwestern, JR)
Jacob Rooth (Pittsburgh, SO)
Jamison Yoder (Green Bay, FR)
Kyle Orciuch (Stanford, HS.SR)
Damien Las (HS.SO)

In: none

Out: Richard Sanchez (23, option declined)
Jorge Rodrigo Bava (Uruguay, 36)

USL Affiliate: Tulsa Roughnecks
Fabian Cerda (Chile, 28)

2017 Grade: C-

Bill says: If you’re going to move a goalkeeper like Johnson - one that was making a quarter million in salary - you might as well bring in legitimate starters but Chicago spent that money to bring in Bava, who would end up getting replaced by Lampson fairly early into the season. Why even bring Bava in? The only reason the Fire don't get an F is because Lampson actually did a wonderful job of taking the starting spot from Bava and other teams have proved that it can always get worse.

Chicago switched their USL affiliate from St. Louis to Tulsa, which should open up more doors for Cleveland, who only earned two starts in St. Louis. Dal Santo is a little undersized so it’s an outside chance he could sign as a homegrown. Sanchez still has negotiations going. I’d say it’s likely he returns but I’m not sure how confident the Fire feel that Sanchez will turn into an eventual starter. There are upgrades over Lampson, but we’ll see if the Fire go for them or not. On a side note, Damien Las had a moderately successful U17 Nike Friendly showing.

December 11th: To no surprise at all, the $267K goalkeeper is left unprotected for Los Angeles to select in the expansion draft. I'm sure as enticing of an offer it will be, LAFC will look elsewhere. Lampson and Cleveland are also left unprotected, which really makes you have to wonder when you're leaving your entire goalkeeping core available for a team to take for free.

December 14th: Iker Casillas tied to MLS once again. This isn't our first rodeo with Casillas being tied to MLS, which has happened every year since 2015, but there is a little more reason to trust this go-around. Casillas will be out of contract soon and isn't Porto's number one anymore. He's been linked to Miami with David Beckham, but also Newcastle. Casillas seems to be going somewhere and the general consensus is that he'll make around $6,000,000 from the ever trustworthy Twitter poll.

December 23rd: It looks like Casillas to Chicago is becoming more likely as the rumor has resurfaced multiple times in the past couple weeks. Chicago is set to take the number one spot in money spent on their starting goalkeeper and their backup goalkeepers.

January 1st: David Villa has told Casillas he likes living in MLS.

January 11th: Bava isn't returning, as I predicted last year, "I wouldn’t expect Bava to be with Chicago for more than a year and could very well put Chicago into a similar position in 2018. End of the day, Brava isn’t a huge upgrade if at all from Lampson." The returning Casillas rumors don't seem to give much confidence in the idea that Lampson will be the starter for 2018 but it's not out of the realm of possibility.

January 15th: Sanchez re-signs and is in line to take over the starting position over the next couple years. If the Fire are really bringing in Casillas, they'll likely look to dump either Lampson or Cleveland, but neither have much trade value. They could maybe get a fourth round or $50K in allocation money for Lampson but I doubt teams are looking to shell out that much for him.

January 19th: Chicago trades Lampson to Minnesota for a top first-round draft pick. It's probably all they could get for him but they also clear room for Casillas and Sanchez.

February 7th: Goalkeeper Kyle Orciuch will be heading to Stanford this fall.

February 8th: It's been a while since the Casillas rumor has floated back up so there's a decent chance it's dead, which would set Richard Sanchez up as the starter for 2018. He'll be a little green but I don't see him necessarily sinking Chicago's season, although I wouldn't say he'll be a top goalkeeper either.

Sanchez starts over Lampson in a preseason against Philly. Apparently, "The Fire do have some money to play with after shedding Accam’s substantial salary and landing a total of $1.2 million in Targeted and General Allocation Money from the Union for the Ghanaian. Rodriguez said they’ll look to use that on another goalkeeper..."

February 12th: Sam Howard is listed as a trialist. 

 

Colorado Rapids

Starter: Tim Howard (38)
Backup: Zac MacMath (26)
In Reserve: Andrew Dykstra (32)
Drafted: Thomas Olsen (22)
Coach: Chris Sharpe

Youth Prospects
Connor Gavigan (Florida Gulf Coast, FR)
Kainoa Likewise (18)

In: none

Out: John Berner (26, option declined)

USL AffiliateCharlotte Independence
Brandon Miller (28)

2017 Grade: F

Bill says: MacMath has 37 starts with the Rapids over two years, and most of them were because Howard was with the national team or injured. The Rapids continue to start (and spend on) a $2.4 million dollar average goalkeeper. Howard is 15 months away from turning 40. At some point, they’ll transition the two goalkeepers? But they haven’t shown any signs of it yet. Meanwhile, MacMath sits on the sideline.

For those who remember Andrew Epstein (would have just finished his senior year at Stanford) retired early from soccer and went to Africa with the Peace Corps.

December 23rd: It's been a quiet winter for Colorado's goalkeeping department. Berner signed with USL side, Phoenix Rising.

January 4th: Cody Mizell is leaving Charlotte for Tampa Bay so the starting spot is theoretically open to a young goalkeeper from Colorado. MacMath isn't looking for USL time but this does up the odds that Colorado selects a young goalkeeper in the draft, with more playing time available now.

January 21st: Olsen drafted in the third round, which I posted some negative responses here. Head coach Fernando Clavijo said Colorado will have a USL team next year.

February 1st: 2015 USL Goalkeeper of the Year Brandon Miller heads to Charlotte. If the Rapids sign Olsen, that'll be his main competition for playing time.

February 2nd: There is another goalkeeper here and I have no clue who it is.

February 8th: Dykstra brought in in exchange for a second-round draft pick. I'm guessing this has something to say about one of the other goalkeepers as Colorado doesn't exactly seem like the type of organization that would carry four goalkeepers. Trading a second rounder for a backup is probably overpaying but if Colorado can flip MacMath for something worthwhile, it should play out. For a good laugh, "Rapids Executive VP and general manager Padraig Smith in a club release, 'Alongside Tim Howard and Zac MacMath, Andrew joins one of the very best goalkeeping units in Major League Soccer.'"

 

Columbus Crew

Starter: Zack Steffen (22)
Backup: Jon Kempin (24)
In Reserve: Logan Ketterer (24)
Drafted: Ben Lundgaard (22)
Coach: Pat Onstad

Youth Prospects
Parker Siegfried (Ohio State, SO)
Carter Richardson (Columbia, SO)
Robbie McKelvey (Duquesne, SO)
Logan Kowalczyk (HS.JR)

In: Jon Kempin (traded from LA Galaxy)

Out: Brad Stuver (26, traded)
Logan Ketterer (24, option declined)

USL AffiliatePittsburgh Riverhounds
Trey Mitchell (26)

2017 Grade: A-

Bill says: Crew fans are absolutely swooning over Steffen, and for good reason. While I’m not really a huge fan of USYNT players being immediately rewarded with a starting spot in MLS after struggling overseas, he had a solid regular season and a wonderful postseason. It’s hard to project what’ll happen with Steffen as most youngsters with his talent are sold to Europe, which he specifically opted out of. Perhaps he stays in Columbus (or Austin) for the next ten years?

Steffen played every minute of 2017 so backups aren’t a huge priority for the Crew. Ketterer seems more likely to return to Columbus than Stuver (cheaper, younger) but neither goalkeeper really has that many starts under his belt. It’s hard to develop two goalkeepers so Columbus may end up selecting a veteran goalkeeper in the re-entry draft.

December 13th: Kempin comes in at the cost of a fourth-round draft pick, which is probably good for both teams. Columbus gets a steady backup and LAG wasn't going to get much else for a goalkeeper that probably wasn't returning. Also, after deleting a tweet that spelled his name "Stuber", Kristian Dyer reports that Stuver is drawing interest from a number of teams around the league.

December 14th: Stuver is not returning. Columbus receives a fourth-round pick for him. I think this still leaves the door open for Ketterer to return.

January 11th: Ketterer re-signs. Kind words from Berhalter, “Logan is a guy who does everything a coach asks him to do and he made a lot of progress in his first year in MLS." Columbus is set for 2018, with the youngest goalkeeping core in MLS.

January 19th: Columbus picks up Ben Lundgaard (Virginia Tech) in the first round, as four goalkeepers were selected in nine picks. If Columbus signs him, they'll have four goalkeepers under 25 without a USL affiliate. It's odd by Columbus as they have to juggle four developing goalkeepers now.

January 31st: 17-year-old goalkeeper Logan Kowalczyk trains with the first team.

 

D.C. United

Starter: Steve Clark (31)
Backup: David Ousted (32)
In Reserve: Travis Worra (24)
Coach: Zach Thornton

Youth Prospects
Jacob Braham (Stony Brook, SO)
Lance DaSilva (Longwood, SO)
James Knoebel (Liberty, SO)
Noah Lawrence (Cincinnati, FR)
Chase Vosvick (Loyola Maryland, FR)

In: none

Out: Bill Hamid (27, out of contract)
Eric Klenofsky (23, option declined)

USL AffiliateRichmond Kickers
No Starter

2017 Grade: F

Bill says: I still can’t believe Hamid left for zero dollars. Talks on extending his contract started in April of 2017 and somehow it got to the point where Hamid’s contract just ran up. Surely at somewhere over the past couple years, someone in DC would have realized that Hamid had a load of value they could have cashed in on. It'd be a little different if Hamid finished on a good year, or if DC was phasing in a younger goalkeeper, but Hamid was really poor last year and DC didn't have another goalkeeper to turn to.

Klenofsky doesn’t re-sign as he waits to get back to 100% health. Worra is the only goalkeeper coming back from last year but the team has yet to show faith that he’ll be a starter down the line. Clark is set to return as the starter but at 31, they need to develop a trustworthy replacement sooner than later, which DC seems inept at doing. While Clark's addition is a positive step, United's goalkeeping situation for 2017 was bad on a variety of levels.

December 11: Clark officially announced but left unprotected for LAFC to select. Surely this can't backfire on DC.

December 23: DC could be bringing in Ousted but that's a lot of money thrown at the goalkeeping position. Clark is around $200K and Ousted will be $300K, if not more. This is an odd move for DC, if true, to be spending $500K on two half-starters.

DC's USL affiliate, the Richmond Kickers, only have Marcel de Bellis on roster. DC hasn't had a ton of success in the past in developing a goalkeeper with the Kickers but they have an opportunity in front of them if they want to take it.

January 1st: DC are apparently looking at setting up their own USL affiliate in Loudoun for 2019, at the earliest.

January 8th: David Ousted acquired by DC, which is a really odd move by United. If they don't trust Clark, then they shouldn't have brought him in. If they don't think Ousted is fit to be a starter, then they're overpaying their backup. It's a head-scratcher for sure.

January 23rd: Just Clark, Ousted, and Worra on the training roster.

 

FC Dallas

Starter: Jesse Gonzalez (22)
Backup: Jimmy Maurer (30)
In Reserve: Carlos Avilez (18)
Coach: Drew Keeshan

Youth Prospects
Matthew Karasinski (Tulsa, JR)
Charlie Furrer (Stanford, SO)
Landon Plunkett (Harvard, SO)
Ben Hale (Furman, FR)
David Abonce (Ohio State, FR)
Carlos Mercado (18)
Jacob Tagert (17)
Zach Schawl (15)

In: Jimmy Maurer (signed)

Out: Chris Seitz (30, out of contract)

USL AffiliateOklahoma City FC Energy
Cody Laurendi (29)

2017 Grade: C+

Bill says: Gonzalez had an okay 2017, but much better than 2016 so that’s a strong plus. I’m still suspect that Gonzalez is a top starter in MLS but at $100K, we can give him another year to figure it out. FC Dallas would likely be better off trying to flip him for more money instead of hoping he turns into a star.

Big D Soccer had a very kind farewell to Seitz, a much respected veteran player. FC Dallas could bring Richard Sanchez in, who is out of contract with Chicago but apparently is in negotiations with the Fire to return. FC Dallas has run with two goalkeepers in the past but they will probably pick up another goalkeeper just so the bench isn’t too green.

December 14th: The honorable Jeff Rueter reporting that FCD is closing in on the Cosmos' Jimmy Maurer. Maurer was on loan this summer but it sounds like that was more of a trial for the 29-year-old. Unfortunately, this isn't good news for the Cosmos - or NASL, as he was their top goalkeeper - but it's interesting that Maurer is joining MLS as a backup role. It seems pretty clear that NASL players don't get too many chances to play in MLS so Maurer likely jumped at the rare opportunity, even if it means less playing time. For $60-80K, it's a wonderful move by FC Dallas and puts cold water on the chance of Richard Sanchez returning to Frisco.

December 23rd: Maurer is a great pickup for FC Dallas and Maurer gets some stability moving forward. Seitz heads south to Houston so FC Dallas fans will see him again soon.

December 25th: I'm not sure what happened to Eduardo "Pollo" Cortes, who signed as a homegrown back in September. He's not currently listed on FC Dallas' roster, so I suppose he signed a three-month contract or something? Not sure but I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't return to FC Dallas in the end.

January 22nd: Pollo Cortes in training camp.

February 3rd: Jimmy Maurer plays 90 against Chattanooga and gives up a pretty bad goal after misreading a cross.

February 8th: Kyle Zobeck, who played with Maurer on the Cosmos, starts as a trialist in a preseason matchup.

February 10th: Gonzalez with 90 minutes in preseason.

 

Houston Dynamo

Starter: TBD
Backup: Chris Seitz (30) / Joe Willis (29)
In Reserve: none
Drafted: Michael Nelson (22)
Coach: Paul Rogers

Youth Prospects
Johan Welch (Trinidad and Tobago, North Carolina, JR)
Charles Filby (Virginia Tech, SO)
Andrew Morrison (Washington, FR)
Alex Fetterly (New Mexico, HS.SR)

In: Chris Seitz (free agent)

Out: Tyler Deric (29, option declined)
Calle Brown (25, option declined)

USL AffiliateRio Grande Valley FC Toros
Matt Sanchez (23)
Nico Corti (22)

2017 Grade: B

Bill says: When your backup goalkeeper is winning you games, you’re either doing really well or doing really poorly, and Houston definitely wasn’t the latter.

All goalkeepers are getting a new contract, whether with Houston or somewhere else. I would expect at least Willis to return, if not also Deric. Willis is the best backup in the league and came in clutch more than once this year. Deric’s off the field issues have derailed his development more than once so it’ll be interesting to see if the Dynamo take him back in. Brown is the most expendable, as he hasn’t shown MLS starting capabilities and the Dynamo are set on backups.

Rio Grande Valley goalkeepers include Borja Angoitia and Marco Carducci, which could conceivably slide up but I'm not sure either of them have reached MLS-status yet.

December 11th: Joe Willis was protected so you have to think he's returning next year. Deric was not on the protected list as he is a free agent at the moment.

December 15th: Seitz brought in so at best, only Deric or Willis are returning, not both. It looks like Willis has the inside edge but both are likely to start over Seitz. One of the first free agent goalkeeper signings in league history!

December 23rd: Willis is rumored to want a number one spot and Houston doesn't think he's the fit. Houston could trade his rights as his value has never been higher but I'm not sure where the fit is for him. Perhaps one of the LA teams but it seems unlikely.

December 24th: Chris Seitz already tied up in some drama thanks to an unfortunate typo.

January 9th: 26-year-old Carlos Caceda is linked in a possible loan move to the Dynamo. Caceda has three caps with Peru but has been sitting the bench with Veracruz in Mexico. I'm skeptical on the move unless they're looking at pushing him to USL. If Houston is truly searching for a number one, I doubt they'll go with an unproven goalkeeper. 

January 19th: No news on the starter-front but Houston quietly bring in three goalkeepers over the weekend. Michael Nelson is drafted in the first round and RGV signs Matt Sanchez, who trained with DC United over the past year, and Nico Corti, who just won a national championship with Stanford. It's an interesting move by Corti, who was draft-eligible but opted to sign with Rio Grande Valley instead. Nelson, Sanchez, and Corti were all present at the Dynamo goalkeeper combine.

January 23rd: Patrick McLain called into training camp. McLain was at a goalkeeper clinic in December so it's safe to say Houston is intrigued by McLain. I don't think McLain is being looked at (again) as a potential starter, but as a potential number three.

February 1st: This article makes it sound like the Dynamo were seconds away from signing 23-year-old Croatian Ivica Ivusic, until Olympiacos stepped in. It's safe to say the Dynamo are still looking for another goalkeeper.

February 3rd: Well the RGV goalkeepers didn't look great in the 9-1 loss to the Dynamo but Seitz, Nelson, and McLain all split time for Houston.

February 7th: Joe Willis returns but if Houston really are looking externally for a number one (see February 1st) then I don't get the sense that Willis is their go-to starter. Nelson, Corti, and Sanchez can go to RGV while Houston could theoretically pull in a number one still.

February 12th: Alex Fetterly signs with New Mexico. His peers are currently finishing their freshmen year in college so it's a bit odd he's signing so late.

 

Los Angeles FC

Starter: TBD
Backup: Luis Lopez (24, Honduras)
In Reserve: Tyler Miller (24)
Coach: Zak Abdel

Youth Prospects
none

In: Tyler Miller (expansion draft)

Out: none

USL Affiliate: Orange County Blues FC
Charlie Lyon (25)

2017 Grade: F

Bill says: I don’t know what grade to give LAFC but since they haven’t even announced a goalkeeper coach they get an F. LAFC will certainly pick up an available goalkeeper in the expansion draft to be a backup but it’s hard to say any more than that.

December 12th update: Miller taken with their very first pick in the expansion draft so naturally, he is going to sit behind a foreign goalkeeper getting paid way too much and then halfway through the season LAFC will realize they spent $200K on the wrong player.

December 16th: Some friendly banter towards Miller about the whole hat thing.

December 23rd: Horwath linked back to MLS and LAFC is one of the remaining teams that this could possibly work.

December 24th: Sure enough, here is Tyler Miller doing the hat thing.

January 7th: Abdel announced as the goalkeeper coach. Abdel played with the Egyptian youth national teams as well as coaching up and down California.

January 22nd: In classic MLS-form, the Galaxy were confused for LAFC. Buba Lopez is coming to LAFC.

February 2nd: 23-year-old Canadian goalkeeper Quillan Roberts pops up as a trialist for LAFC. I don't think Roberts is the starter they're still looking for but won't be a bad project if they were willing to commit to developing the former Toronto FC player.

 

Los Angeles Galaxy

Starter: David Bingham (28)
Backup: Brian Sylvestre (25)
In Reserve: none
Coach: Oka Nikolov

Youth Prospects
Matt Watkin (San Diego State, SO)
Matthew Reich (Davidson, FR)
Jordan Aldama (17)
Anthony Rodriguez (16)

In: David Bingham (traded)
Brian Sylvestre (signed)

Out: Brian Rowe (29, traded)
Clement Diop (France, 24, option declined)
Jon Kempin (24, traded)

USL AffiliateLos Angeles Galaxy II
Eric Lopez (18)
Justin vom Steeg (20)
Bennett Sneddon (20)

2017 Grade: D-

Bill says: Kempin was one of the few bright spots from LAG’s season last year but it’s hard to see it clearly when a team finishes last place. If he can put the pieces in order, he can be a starter, but that’s also the same thing we said about Rowe for the last five years.

For Rowe’s price, LAG need to move on. Then again, don’t be surprised if the Galaxy finds three new goalkeepers entirely. Diop has had his up and downs but there isn’t much point in bringing him back as a number two. Seems like they should know if he’s ready to be number one or if there are better options elsewhere. Eric Lopez has done well with the USL side but jumping from USL to MLS is quite a task.

The Galaxy can go a number of different directions and I’d like to see Kempin brought back in but something tells me that LAG are leaving all three out in the cold.

December 13th: Kempin officially not returning. LAG get a fourth-round draft pick, which isn't much but they weren't going to get much else for him. LA Galaxy still searching for a starter for the 2018 season.

December 14th: Diop is selected by Montreal in the re-entry draft so the only returning possible goalkeeper is Rowe. (Theoretically the Galaxy could trade for Diop to return but don't count on it.) It's been six years and fans are still waiting for the Brian Rowe to reach his potential. While we've seen glimmers of it, it just hasn't been consistent enough. Perhaps Sean Johnson's move to NYC, or Bendik to Orlando, can motivate Rowe to be optimistic about a change of scenery. If it hasn't worked well in six years at one place, what's the think the seventh year will be any better? Meanwhile, Lopez's option gets picked up.

December 15th: Rowe is sent north for a second-round draft pick. Again, it's hard to get high trade value when a player is already on the way out so this is a good pickup for LAG.

However the bigger news today is the league blocking Ousted's move to the south, which Ousted made it clear he was not happy about. It looks like the Galaxy tried to use TAM on Ousted, who doesn't qualify because his salary isn't high enough. TAM can only be used to bring down players' salaries that are above the maximum budget charge ($480,625 in 2017). Unfortunately, Ousted's salary isn't high enough, but this does bring into question about the point of TAM, which is described as "funds strategically provided by the league to teams to add or retain players that will make an immediate impact on the field." Clearly Ousted would make an immediate impact but because Ousted isn't making enough money - despite his talent and LAG having the money to spend - he doesn't qualify for the use.

And just to continue the exciting day, Bingham is tied to the Galaxy, although sounds like LA would be giving up a fair chunk of change.

Lundgaard and Caldwell have some friendly banter about going to the Galaxy.

December 23rd: Things quieted down and Bingham's incoming has stalled. I've heard rumors that he's asking for $400K and considering Europe but make of that as you will. The Galaxy would be better off at letting Bingham walk at this point, especially for any salary north of $200K. Alex Horwath is linked to MLS and the team without any goalkeepers on their roster has got to be in the running, right?

Some light is shed on Ousted's bizarre TAM situation.

January 9th: Montreal and Diop "officially come to terms", or as one LAG fan put it, "Yes, people do 'come to terms' with having Diop on their roster", if anyone was wondering of his legacy in LA. It's not too long ago Galaxy fans were excited about Diop's arrival but it seems like last season has soured everyone's outlook.

January 10th: The Bingham move is penned. Schmid said Bingham is a "reliable" goalkeeper, which I'm not sure that's what you're looking for when you're shelling out $200K in allocation and another $200-300 on salary. The whole move has been such a high risk for LA, I'm not optimistic that fans will think this was worth it in 2-3 years.

January 12th: Brian Sylvestre is now with his fifth professional team and he's only 25 years old. To no surprise, a player who bounces around so much is always praised with "potential" but struggles to find a consistent level of play. A backup role could give time for Sylvestre to reset and find that much need consistency.

January 17th: Luis Lopez going to the Galaxy as their number three. This is a really underwhelming move and I can't imagine Lopez will be there in 2019. It's a third-string goalkeeper so it doesn't really matter but at the same time, it's a bizarre signing.

January 22nd: In classic MLS form, the Galaxy were confused for LAFC. Buba Lopez going to LAFC.

February 3rd: Vom Steeg plays the final 30 in a scrimmage.

 

 

Minnesota United

Starter: Bobby Shuttleworth (30)
Backup: Matt Lampson (28)
In Reserve: Alex Kapp (23)
Coach: John Pascarella

In: Matt Lampson (traded)

Out: Patrick McLain (29, out of contract)
Alec Ferrell (22, out of contract)

USL affiliate: no USL affiliate

2017 Grade: D+

Bill says: Last year I wrote, “Swedish international John Alvbage was signed. At 34, I don’t expect to see him in 2018” and I was certainly correct there. Once again another example of teams needlessly spending big (almost $250K) on foreign goalkeepers.

Ferrell had a really bright college career but there’s a strong possibility knee injuries have prematurely ended his career. Minnesota was close to the lone Pool Keeper this year, Bill Heavner, so keep an eye out for his signing. Minnesota’s last goalkeeper coach, Marius Røvde, has yet to be replaced. Minnesota revitalized Shuttleworth’s career so that’s a small plus in a slew of unfortunate decisions.

December 16th: I don't believe Minnesota has Ferrell's rights anymore (or at least are close to losing them) but this is still great news to hear for the young goalkeeper. 2019 is probably the earliest we'll see him but at least he's on a positive path now.

December 23rd: Highly regarded goalkeeper coach John Pascarella brought in. Minnesota still needs a number two, which could possibly be Alex Howarth.

January 13th: U15 goalkeeper Fred Emmings is called into a USYNT camp, the first Minnesota academy player to make a roster.

January 19th: Minnesota quietly picks up a goalkeeper during the draft via a trade with Chicago. Lampson likely hops on as the backup in Minnesota but could compete for the starting spot if Shuttleworth backsteps this year. Minnesota picked up another $175,000 in allocated money for dropping twelve spots in the draft. It's a great move for Minnesota.

February 6th: Minnesota talking to St. Louis as a possible USL affiliate, which would be a win-win for everyone involved. St. Louis is set to start Tomas Gomez in goal this year but Alex Kapp could still pick up some time, as opposed to sitting on the bench.

 

Montreal Impact

Starter: Evan Bush (31)
Backup: Clement Diop (France, 24)
In Reserve: James Pantemis (Canada, 20) / Jason Beaulieu (Canada, 24)
Coach: Jack Stern

Youth Prospects
Jason Beaulieu (Canada, New Mexico, SR)

In: James Pantemis (homegrown signing)
Clement Diop (re-entry draft)

Out: Eric Kronberg (33, out of contract)
Maxime Crepeau (Canada, 23, on loan to Ottawa)

USL Affiliate: Ottawa Fury
Maxime Crepeau (Canada, 23)
Callum Irving (Canada, 24)

2017 Grade: D+

Bill says: I think there’s a real strong possibility that Crepeau won’t be ready to start in 2018 and Montreal will be in an awkward transition year. Crepeau only saw seven starts last year, while Bush continued to get the bulk of them. Bush didn’t have a great 2017 - nearing “bad” territory - but I don’t expect 2018 to be any better. Montreal needs help on defense to make a playoff push, not more uncertainty.

Callum Irving is still with the Ottawa Fury and Montreal has surely been keeping tabs on him.

December 14th: Not a bad pickup for Montreal, as they shore up their bets. If Crepeau isn't ready to go and Bush is struggling, they can turn to Diop. But to no surprise, Crepeau isn't thrilled about the pickup and has asked to be traded. It's another classic case of mismanaging young talent. I would imagine Montreal could receive a second or third round pick for Crepeau but for all the hype and time that went into developing Crepeau, you have to chalk this up as a failure on Montreal's part. Either he wasn't good enough and the front office missed the selling point or he's going to show Montreal why they shouldn't have let him go.

January 9th: Montreal and Diop "officially come to terms", or as one LAG fan put it, "Yes, people do 'come to terms' with having Diop on their roster", if anyone was wondering of his legacy in LA. It's not too long ago Galaxy fans were excited about Diop's arrival but it seems like last season has soured everyone's outlook. They're also bringing in New Mexico alum Jason Beaulieu as a homegrown, which seems to indicate that Crepeau is still on his way out but no official word yet. Pantemis was also called into the U23 camp.

Lastly, retired French international goalkeeper Joël Bats (50 caps) comes in as the new goalkeeper coach, replacing Jack Stern who is now with FC Cincinnati.

January 21st: Creapeu on loan to Ottawa. Montreal's long-term plan with Creapeu is still unclear. They're stocked up on goalkeepers and there are a number of teams that could use a young goalkeeper. Why not trade him out for something in return? If they're going to commit to him as a future starter, why not give him more game time in MLS? Unless they find a way to get Crepeau a few MLS games this year, it seems like most likely scenario when Bush's contract runs up is the shoulder shrug emoji.

 

New England Revolution

Starter: Cody Cropper (24)
Backup: Matt Turner (23)
In Reserve: none
Coach: Remi Roy

Youth Prospects
Matt Mozynski (Campbell, SR)
Austin Aviza (Syracuse, JR)
Eddie Walsh (Xavier, FR)
Trey Miller (Louisville, FR)
Patrick Quinn (17)

In: none

Out: Brad Knighton (32, out of contract)

USL Affiliate: no USL affiliate

2017 Grade: D

Bill says: Perhaps my biggest frustration with New England is that they brought Cropper in - after not catching on in England - they didn't offer him any real competition. Knighton is in the twilight of his career and I don't think Turner is getting a fair shot at the starting gig. Or if Turner isn't good enough, New England should have brought in another keeper to challenge Cropper.

Cropper wasn’t a quality MLS starter in 2017 but and there’s not any reason to expect 2018 to be different. He hasn't shown many signs of developing and he's not competing for the starting spot. He Just kind of inherited it. The one plus here is they are spending pennies on Cropper, only $65,000. Mozynski could sign a homegrown contract but with their previous USL affiliate folding, the Rochester Rhinos, he may struggle to see any meaningful playing time.

December 16th: Knighton returns and I don't think more of the same is what the Revs need at this time. Cropper needs some more competition but instead, we'll see a replay of 2017.

January 8th: Cropper called into a USMNT camp.

February 3rd: Brad Knighton plays 90 in a scrimmage.

 

New York City FC

Starter: Sean Johnson (27)
Backup: Brad Stuver (26)
In Reserve: Andre Rawls (28)
Drafted: Jeff Caldwell (21)
Coach: Rob Vartughian

In: Brad Stuver (traded from Columbus)

Out: Eirik Johansen (25, Norway, option declined)

USL AffiliateSan Antonio FC
Diego Restrepo (30)

2017 Grade: C-

Bill says: Despite his collapse against Columbus, Johnson had a better season with NYC than we've seen with Chicago for a while. Is it worth $220k? No, but it's nice to see Johnson step up his game. Eirik Johansen walks as it was becoming increasingly clear that he was not going to get to the starting spot. NYC still don’t have any homegrown goalkeepers in the college game but somehow they seem like the organization that doesn’t really mind.

December 14: Stuver comes in for the price of a 4th round draft pick. I'm not sure where Stuver places on the depth chart but I would guess he's ahead of Rawls. It's not a young goalkeeping core so I'm going to go out on a limb and say none of the goalkeepers will be with NYC by the time the 2021 season kicks off.

January 19th: In a surprising move, NYC draft Jeff Caldwell out of Virginia. I'm not sure what the plan is with Caldwell as San Antonio isn't looking to move on from Restrepo (just won USL Goalkeeper of the Year) and NYC already has three goalkeepers on roster. While this puts some pressure on Stuver and Rawls in the immediate future, this also puts some long-term pressure on Sean Johnson. If Caldwell develops as a top prospect should, Johnson could be out of NYC before he turns 30.

January 23rd: Only the four goalkeepers in training camp.

January 24th: Stuver linked to a League One club (Barnsley) in England. This report says the rumor is "wide of the mark" which I honestly have no idea what that means. If it's true, it's a great opportunity for a goalkeeper who hasn't had that many chances in MLS.

 

 

New York Red Bulls

Starter: Luis Robles (33)
Backup: Ryan Meara (27)
In Reserve: Evan Louro (21)
Coach: Preston Burpo

Youth Prospects
Ethan Koehler (Georgetown, FR) #
Xavier Kennedy (Ohio State, FR)
Matthew Frank (Stanford, HS.SR)
Steven Ortiz (17)
Sam Ilin (17)
Arturo Magana (15)

In: none

Out: Rafael Diaz (26, option declined)

USL AffiliateNew York Red Bulls II
no goalkeepers on roster

2017 Grade: C

Bill says: What a polarizing organization. Of course, everyone loves Robles but what’s Meara’s track? Robles is making $430K so they can’t afford to sit Robles. All the while Meara goes on smurfing in the USL.

Perhaps more concerning, the Red Bulls have put out a number of collegiate goalkeepers but struggle to see a return. Of course there is Louro, who has had a very good 2017, but David Greczek (Rutgers), Gianni Carillo (Sienna), Yusuf Ozen (Memphis), Nicholas Giordano (Loyola Maryland), Tomas Lapinas (George Mason) and Wojciech Gajda (Stony Brook) all have moved to another team, a non-D1 school, or quit soccer altogether. These next few years will be interesting to see how they play out but Louro seems more likely to replace Robles than Meara at this point.

December 11th update: Red Bulls protect both Robles and Meara for the expansion draft. Louro is automatically exempt.

December 12th update: Eric reminds me that Diaz's option was not picked up. He's a fine USL goalkeeper so they're either restructuring his contract or going for a younger goalkeeper. Koehler only played with the academy teams for two years with the U13s and U14s so he may not actually be homegrown eligible.

December 16th: Four goalkeepers shown here and I'm 90% sure that's Stanford's Nico Corti in the middle. Not sure on the rest of them. (edit: It is actually Paul Blanchette, who was playing overseas in Finland for 2017.)

February 6th: Stumbled on a rumor that undrafted UConn senior, Scott Levene, is in camp with RBNY.

February 14th: The Red Bulls acquire a fourth-round pick from Toronto for Caleb Patterson-Sewell because MLS's rules are so goofy.

February 17th: UConn graduate Scott Levene and James Hickok (one year removed from graduating from Dartmouth and playing in the lower leagues in Sweden) spotted on trial with RBNY. Levene is a little undersized (6'1" with a very thin frame) but he'd be a great pickup for the Red Bulls as an actual project that could pay off down the line. Unfortunately I don't know enough about Hickok so it's tough to say what all he took away from playing overseas.

 

Orlando City SC

Starter: Joe Bendik (28)
Backup: Earl Edwards (25)
In Reserve: Adam Grinwis (25)
Coach: Tim Mulqueen

Youth Prospects
Braeden Luna (Kentucky, 21)
Philipp Stone (South Florida, 19)

In: Adam Grinwis (25, signed)

Out: Josh Saunders (36, option declined)
Mason Stajduhar (20)

No USL Affiliate

2017 Grade: B-

Bill says: Bendik had a slow start to 2017 but he’s in a prime spot to finally become a top starter in MLS. It’s a story we've heard a number of times so I’m skeptical for now, but 2017 was his best year so far. Edwards did fine in the USL but he’s not at the point where he’ll be competing for time in MLS. Stajduhar, a promising homegrown and USYNT product, was diagnosed with a form bone cancer and we're all wishing a quick recovery for him.

January 5th: Adam Grinwis signed and I think it's a great signing. For me, he's one of the top USL goalkeepers but has had to fight for time at every club (only 34 starts in three years). Hopefully, he'll get some more playing time with Orlando's USL side with Edwards backing up Bendik in MLS.

January 12th: USL conference alignment comes out, finalizing that OCB will be on hiatus for 2018. Grinwis will be third string with the senior squad.

 

Philadelphia Union

Starter: Andre Blake (Jamaica, 27)
Backup: John McCarthy (25)
In Reserve: Jake McGuire (23)
Coach: Tim Hanley

Youth Prospects
Cameron Keys (La Salle, JR)
Justin Bajek (Maryland, SO)
Andrew Verdi (Michigan, SO)
Jahmali Waite (Jamaica, Fairleigh Dickinson, FR)
Matt Freeze (Harvard, FR)
Tomas Romero (Georgetown, HS.SO)

In: none

Out: none

USL AffiliateBethlehem Steel
no goalkeepers on roster

2017 Grade: C+

Bill says: 100% the right move is to sell Blake as soon as possible. You can probably get a cool million for his services and his $186K salary is likely to jump another $50-100K when his contract runs up in the next year or two. Philly has a nice core of young goalkeepers and are in a great place to flip them for upgrades or just straight cash. Of course, the Philadelphia front office isn’t known for these types of moves so perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.

December 16th: Romero commits to Georgetown.

January 17th: Still no word on their Bethlehem goalkeepers but in the meantime, Andre Blake signs a multi-year contract. TAM was used in the contract so Blake will be doubling if not tripling his salary of $186K from 2017. It's a lot of money spent for Philadelphia who could have probably spent it elsewhere.

January 20th: Not sure when news broke on this but Tim Hanley replaces Oka Nikolov as the goalkeeper coach. Hanley recently had an interview with Soccer America.

February 11th: Georgetown commit Tomas Romero plays 90 for Bethlehem. It sounds like Philly is really investing in the youngster.

 

Portland Timbers

Starter: TBD
Backup: Jeff Attinella (29) / Jake Gleeson (New Zealand, 27)
In Reserve: Kendall McIntosh (23)
Coach: Guillermo "Memo" Valencia

Youth Prospects
Collin Partee (Utah Valley, SR)
Toby Holstein (Gonzaga, SO)
Trevor Wilson (DePaul, SO)
Joe Wheelwright (Utah Valley, FR)
Zachary Morris (Rider, FR)
Zachary Nelson (Xavier, FR)
Miguel Deunas (18)

In: none

Out: none

USL Affiliate: Portland II
Wade Hamilton (23)

2017 Grade: B+

Bill says: The Timbers are stocked on goalkeepers. Gleeson struggled to find some consistency with multiple injuries but Attinella did a wonderful job when called upon. With so many options of capable goalkeepers, it’s hard to see Portland going wrong down the line. On top of that, Gleeson can be a top starter in the league if he gets his feet under him.

December 11th update: Both Gleeson and Attinella available in the expansion draft.

January 8th: A little bit of a coaching shakeup with Portland. Adin Brown slides down to be the goalkeeper coach for the USL squad while Guillermo “Memo” Valencia joins newly appointed head coach from the Cosmos.

January 31st: Attinella starts over Gleeson in their first preseason scrimmage. Attinella might be more of the steady goalkeeping Portland is looking for.

 

Real Salt Lake

Starter: Nick Rimando (38)
Backup: Alex Horwath (30)
In Reserve: Connor Sparrow (23)
Coach: Todd Hoffard

Youth Prospects
Luis Barraza (Marquette, JR)
Gage Rogers (Oregon State, FR)
Jared Osgood (St. Louis, FR)

In: Alex Horwath (signed)

Out: Matt Van Oekel (31, option declined)
Eduardo Fernández (25, out of contract)

USL AffiliateReal Monarchs
Andrew Putna (23)
Christian Herrera (20)

2017 Grade: D

Bill says: Rimando is out of contract, which was one of the most expensive contracts a goalkeeper in MLS has ever seen at $470K. It was too much money two years ago so it only makes sense that Rimando would return at still too much money.

Sparrow and Putna could turn into starters down the line but we’re still a few years removed from that. Herrera returns on loan from Timbers 2 after making zero appearances, which can't be a confidence boost for either Herrera or RSL. It’s a poor situation that they've dug themselves into with no clear plan of going forward. Bring Rimando back another year? Try to find a stop gap? Force a young goalkeeper into the starting spot? None of the options traditionally have high yields. Perhaps letting Attinella go wasn’t the best idea.

December 13th: Sounds like Rimando is coming back but I am assuming it will be less than $470K. It's a tough situation for fans as Rimando is one of the most likable players in the league but whose game has fallen to the point where he's simply not worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Instead of running him into the ground, RSL would best be served by moving Rimando to a coaching role and helping bring young talent up. RSL doesn't have many homegrown options in the collegiate ranks and even with the ones they do have, only OSU's Gage Rogers is on path for MLS. If Rimando can start helping RSL figure out what to do with their youth goalkeepers, then it's well-spent money.

January 12th: "Real Salt Lake confident Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando will re-sign". Not a ton of news but there you go.

January 15th: Rimando officially re-signs. Rimando was on $470K last year so I'm curious as to what his salary is now.

January 29th: Horwath is reported to sign soon. Unfortunately, it's a couple years too late for Horwath to take over the starting spot for Rimando but I do think RSL has picked up one of the best backups in the league.

February 13th: Apparently Todd Hoffard took over as the Director of Goalkeeping for RSL last summer. He was previously with a community college but has MLS and USYNT coaching experience. Hoffard and Horwath crossed over in New York with the Red Bulls.

 

San Jose Earthquakes

Starter: Andrew Tarbell (25)
Backup: Matt Bersano (24)
In Reserve: JT Marcinkowski (20)
Coach: TBD

Youth Prospects
Evan Finney (Penn State, SR)
Remi Prieur (Saint Mary’s, SO)
Drake Callender (California, SO)
Connor Hountalas (San Diego, SO)
Reece Mladjov (UC Riverside, FR)
Dominic Peters (Wake Forest, FR)
Cameron Douglas (UCLA, HS.SR)
Cameron Braaten (18)

In: JT Marcinkowski (homegrown signing)

Out: David Bingham (28, out of contract)

USL AffiliateReno 1868 FC
Marcinkowski or Bersano likely to go on loan

2017 Grade: C

Bill says: It’s been a long journey with David Bingham and San Jose. Dating back to 2011, where Bingham landed at San Jose after a weighted lottery placed the Generation Adidas signing. He struggled to find playing time behind Jon Busch for three years so San Jose says “Hey, you know what Bingham? You need more than 1-2 games a year. Let’s send you on loan.” They send him on loan to San Antonio, where he didn’t care for much. Then he goes halfway around the globe to Norway, in a league that’s probably the same as MLS all things considered. By the time the 2015 season rolls around, they let Jon Busch walk (who had just set the franchise record for most saves in a year) and Bingham finally arrives to the starting position with maybe 20 professional games under his belt in four years. Over the next couple years, Bingham did well enough to receive some USMNT call-ups but finished 2017 on the bench, behind Tarbell. Bingham’s father made it pretty clear they weren't happy with how the organization treated his son and to be fair, they have a pretty strong case. San Jose didn’t take care of his development early on and they didn’t build a successful team around Bingham (net -21 goal differential over the regular season). A few signs of trouble and they're moving onto the next young prospect. So the cycle starts all over again.

It’s a mess and San Jose didn’t handle Bingham well but they have some positive pieces to move forward. It’s an average C to even it all out for the Earthquakes.

December 15th: San Jose could be receiving almost half a million in allocated money from LAG for David Bingham.

January 20th: Goalkeeping coach Tim Hanley heads to Philadelphia and San Jose has not announced a replacement yet.

January 24th: Jyri Nieminen comes in as the goalkeeper coach. I believe Nieminen was actually more of a striker in his playing career.

 

Seattle Sounders

Starter: Stefan Frei (31)
Backup: Bryan Meredith (28)
In Reserve: none
Coach: Tom Dutra

Youth Prospects
Paul Christensen (Portland, SR)
Ben Willis (Gonzaga, JR)
Saif Kerawala (Washington, SO)
Tor Saunders (Akron, SO)
Paul Lewis (Loyola Marymount, SO)
Trey Muse (Indiana, FR)
Sam Fowler (17)
Noah Thomas (16)

In: none

Out: Tyler Miller (24, selected in expansion draft)

USL Affiliate: Seattle II
no goalkeepers on roster

2017 Grade: B-

Bill says: Well Frei had another strong postseason and that’s something that’s hard to gauge in goalkeepers. He still has another few years and the hope is that Miller will be able to take the reigns by 2020 or so.

December 12th: Didn't think too much about it when I saw Miller's name on the expansion draft list but LAFC took him number one. Meredith isn't the replacement for Frei so Seattle is now on the hunt for their 2020 starter.

December 13th: Meredith officially out of contract. Now my B- seems out of place. Seattle has a number of homegrown options but I don't think any will be ready by 2020. There are some young goalkeepers out there worth getting their hands on but not many at an affordable price. It's a tough situation for the Sounders.

December 14th: Frei said Toronto deserved to win the Cup. I don't know if that's news or not but I found it very interesting.

December 16th: Meredith returns. Seattle hasn't given any indication that he's the replacement for Frei and the Sounders still need another three or four goalkeepers to sign.

February 5th: Calle Brown pops up in a preseason match.

 

Sporting Kansas City

Starter: Tim Melia (30)
Backup: Adrian Zendejas (22)
In Reserve: Eric Dick (22) / Alex Tambakis (25)
CoachAlec Dufty

Youth Prospects
Ryan Krutz (Notre Dame, SO)
Dakotah Bainter (UNC Asheville, SO)
Freddy Lorenzen (Milwaukee, FR)
Caden McCullough (Drake, FR)
Alec Wons (Marquette, FR)
Alex Brown (Coastal Carolina, HS.SR)
Connor Jordan-Hyde (Virginia Tech, HS.SR)

In: Alex Tambakis (traded from Atlanta)

Out: David Greczek (23, out of contract)
Andrew Dykstra (31, traded)

USL Affiliate: Swope Park Rangers
Darrin MacLeod (Canada, 23)

2017 Grade: A+

Bill says: Admittedly I was bummed with Kempin wasn’t brought back to KC but Melia made everyone forget about it. A fantastic season that had a really sour ending with the injury at the end of the regular season. Dykstra did well - maybe well enough to compete for a starting spot elsewhere? - but the Melia magic just wasn’t there anymore. Now the big question is if he can repeat it. The scrambling style isn’t easy to roll over from one season to another but I think his ability to solve unfamiliar situations will win out. Kansas City is set up well with some young goalkeepers down the line.

December 11th update: A very bizarre trade but SKC receives a middling young goalkeeper in an already fairly crowded field. Alex Tambakis joins SKC from Atlanta.

January 19th: Eric Dick was rated by a number of people as the top goalkeeper in the draft so in some sense it's not surprising SKC took him. However, they now have six goalkeepers over the two teams. The move seems to show a collective lack of confidence in Zendejas, MacLeod, and Tambakis.

February 8th: SKC drafts one of the best goalkeepers in years and then trades their backup for a second rounder. It's a huge win for SKC and sets up Dick to take over in a few years.

February 10th: SKC celebrates goalkeepers signing with D1 programs.

February 15th: Eric Dick officially signs, being the first drafted goalkeeper to do so. It'll probably be him and Zendejas duking it out for Swope Park this year but I'd keep an eye on who ends up with more playing time, as that is probably an indicator of who their future is really stacked on.

 

Toronto FC

Starter: Alex Bono (23)
Backup: Clint Irwin (28)
In Reserve: Caleb Patterson-Sewell (30)
Drafted: Drew Shepherd (23)
Coach: Jon Conway

Youth Prospects
Brogan Engbers (Liberty, FR)
Rimi Olatunji (Providence, HS.SR)
Gianluca Catalano (Connecticut, HS.SR)

In: Caleb Patterson-Sewell (traded with RBNY)

Out: Mark Pais (Canada, 26, out of contract)

USL Affiliate: Toronto FC II
Angelo Cavalluzzo (Canada, 24)
Phil di Bennardo (Canda, 20)

2017 Grade: B

Bill says: In some sense, I want to give Toronto an F for how they handled Irwin. They leave him exposed in the expansion draft - a move so obviously dumb that even MLS themselves said it was a bad idea - and Atlanta wisely drafts Toronto’s starting goalkeeper only to trade him back to Toronto for allocation money. It was essentially like Toronto just gave Atlanta money for no reason at all.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Irwin ends up penning a new $200K contract only to see six starts, around $35K per start. Bono, on the other hand, ends up starting the majority of the season which averages out to $3,100 per start. Now the backup is making more than twice the starter's salary.

So in spite of their incredibly poor mismanagement of the goalkeeping situation heading into the 2017 season, finding a long-term starting goalkeeper in MLS is very hard to do and their patience with Bono was rewarded. Bono didn’t have a great 2016 in the USL and while I don’t think he was especially tested this year (i.e see 2017 MLS final), having a young goalkeeper at the helm goes a long ways in this league.

December 11th: Of course Irwin is available in this expansion draft. Only this time, Toronto wouldn't mind unloading $200K from their books.

December 13th: One of the talking heads during the expansion draft suggested that drafting Irwin would be a good idea for LAFC. 

December 14th: Pais not returning as of right now.

January 19th: Western Michigan alum Drew Shepherd drafted in the very last pick of the second round. Out of five goalkeepers, Toronto only has one goalkeeper over 24 so it's an interesting move to stock up on even more young talent. But when you have confidence in Bono and Irwin, it's not completely out of place.

February 7th: Gianluca Catalano commits to Connecticut while Rimi Olatunji will be heading to Providence this fall.

February 10th: Juan Pablo is listed as subbing on as a goalkeeper for Swope Park. No clue who that is.

February 14th: Despite last playing for the Jacksonville Armada, Caleb Patterson-Sewell is traded from the Red Bulls for a fourth-round pick. Fourth rounders don't carry a ton of weight in the league but I can't see Patterson-Sewell being with Toronto come 2020, if not 2019.

 

Vancouver Whitecaps

Starter: Stefan Marinovic (New Zealand, 26)
Backup: Brian Rowe (29)
In Reserve: none
Coach: Stewart Kerr

Youth Prospects
Thomas Hasal (Whitecaps Academy, 18)
Aidan Aylward (Loyola Chicago, FR)

In: Brian Rowe (traded from LAG)

Out: David Ousted (Denmark, 32, option declined)
Spencer Richey (24, on loan to Cincinnati FC)
Sean Melvin (23, on loan to Fresno)
Paolo Tornaghi (Italian, 28, out of contract)

USL Affiliate: Fresno FC
Sean Melvin (Canada, 23)

2017 Grade: C

Bill says: Changing goalkeepers is rarely ever clean but I think Vancouver did it as well as they could have. They saw the writing on the wall: Ousted’s game was slipping and it wasn't going to get back. Instead of trying to drain every last ounce out of the Danish goalkeeper, they said “Thank you for your service” and moved on without stirring up much drama. I’m sure it’s a sensitive subject for fans but it’s about as clean of a break as you’re realistically going to get. Franchises are trying to make money and Ousted was costing them a lot, almost $380K.

Marinovic is right under $80K so now the Whitecaps save $300K and have honestly upgraded their goalkeeping position. Ousted was a class act about it all so I have no problem saying what I said a few years ago again: Ousted should have won the 2015 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award.

The biggest problem I have with Vancouver right now is that they had to outsource to solve their goalkeeping needs. Their USL side folded and they've sent Richey on loan to Cinciny and Melvin to Fresno FC.

December 15th: Rowe brought in but Marinovic did fine last season. Seems like an odd move but I'm assuming Rowe is understanding he'll be a backup for 2018. Vancouver gives up a second-round draft pick for a sturdy number two goalkeeper, which is a fine trade.

December 23rd: Vancouver could be getting something from DC United if this trade does go down. After the bizarre TAM episode, anything is possible.

January 9th: 18-year-old Thomas Hasal invited into the Canada U23 camp.

2017 American Goalkeeper Destinations

AGD is back for a third year. With the NASL is turmoil, it's hard to say exactly where every team is going to end up, much less their goalkeepers. Follow along with the tracker below to see what your team is looking to do in their goalkeeper department.

Click the team to jump to their section, unless you're on your phone which you will need to click here to use the hyperlinks.

 

What's Going to Happen to NASL Goalkeepers?

With the New York Cosmos announcing that they would cease operations, the NASL is teetering on the edge of closing up shop themselves. The uncertainty leaves the future for NASL goalkeepers to anyone's guess right now. A 2017 NASL season isn't completely out of the picture but teams are reportedly eyeing a switch to USL. While the NASL is a lower division under MLS, there are still a few goalkeepers we should keep an eye on.

 

Jimmy Maurer (29) - New York Cosmos

Photo belongs to Brad Penne

Photo belongs to Brad Penne

For anyone who has watched Maurer's play, he's clearly the most complete goalkeeper in the league. He may not be the quickest or the strongest, but he's going to limit mistakes in the back and keep his team in games. Compared to the current MLS crop, he could very well not only earn himself a contract in the senior league but perhaps a starting spot. Assuming Maurer doesn't explore options overseas, NASL will have something to boast about if he signs with MLS.

 

Sammy Ndjock (26) - Minnesota United

Photo belongs to Brian Peterson

Photo belongs to Brian Peterson

Probably the goalkeeper with the most guaranteed spot of landing somewhere next year. MLS's latest expansion team, Minnesota United, could carry him over from the jump but even if they don't, Ndjock's reflexes alone should peak someone's interest. Lots of fans want to believe their team's goalkeeper has quick reactions but Ndjock is in North America's top five quickest paws. Unfortunately Ndjock's biggest Achilles' heel is consistency. One moment he will wow you with an unbelievable save and the next he'll end up on ESPN's Not Top Ten Plays of the Week.  

 

Jon Busch (40) - Indy Eleven

The last American goalkeeper to play into their 40's was Brad Friedel. So needless to say, Busch is in good company. Teams aren't always going to want to give a starting spot to someone late in their career but every team wants a veteran to steward their young goalkeeper. Busch is still wanting to play next year but Indy Eleven's plans are unclear at this moment. With Indy Eleven being one of the more stable teams in NASL, he may just stay put in Indiana.

 

Brian Sylvestre (24) - North Carolina FC

Photo belongs to Paul Rudderow

Photo belongs to Paul Rudderow

Sylvestre has already spent time in MLS, playing for the Philadelphia Union in 2015 after being released by the Whitecaps back in 2012. So it's not a shock to think Sylvestre will most likely end up back in the league one way or another. NCFC has made their intentions known they'd like to get to MLS down the line. They haven't officially left the NASL but it's a strong possibility they'll slide to USL for a few years with a good chunk of their roster.

 

Trevor Spangenberg (25) - Puerto Rico FC

Probably overlooked by even fans inside the league, Spangenberg finished as Puerto Rico's starting goalkeeper by the end of the season, allowing just fourteen goals in twelve games. Spangenberg is at a great point in his career that if an MLS team needs a starter, he's had the game time to step in without jitters but if a team wants to loan him to USL, they can still get a return from him there as well. As a previous backup for Chivas and the New England Revolution, he could see a return to MLS sooner than later.

 

Matt Van Oekel (30) - FC Edmonton

Photo belongs to Codie McLachlan

Photo belongs to Codie McLachlan

Van Oekel was awarded NASL's Golden Glove in 2016 with a 0.55 GAA. While that will give him a foot in the door, the question becomes if he'll be content with taking a backup spot somewhere in MLS. There have been some rumors of Canada starting their own league, albeit unlikely for 2017. If Van Oekel is wanting to start somewhere, Scandinavia may be his best shot.

 

Matt Pickens (34) - Tampa Bay Rowdies

Photo belongs to  Matt May

Photo belongs to Matt May

Beloved in Colorado for his time with the Rapids, Pickens is in a similar boat as Busch. Teams will be looking for that added experience and he will be cheaper than bringing in a foreigner. Tampa Bay may slide to USL so Pickens might not have to pack up but if a team wants to open the starting job up, Pickens could relocate to throw his name in the ring.