Zack Steffen: Three Areas to Improve

Every now and then I break down a goalkeeper's play style. You can check out old editions of "Oustanding or Overrated" on Bill Hamid and Santiago Castano. Seeing as I was overdue for another and Zack Steffen was struggling in his first season as a starter, the good people at ASA were kind enough to let me dive into the issues Steffen was having with his approach to the game. It's not technically an Oustanding or Overrated piece - I solely focus on three areas he needs to improve - but it's pretty close.

Head over to American Soccer Analysis to read the article.

Top 100 American Goalkeepers - April 2018

It's been a while since our last update so I suppose it's fair to have seen so many names move around. Every spring there are few guarantees on how goalkeepers will enter the season and 2018 is no exception. Most notably Tyler Miller and Matt Turner have exceeded expectations and presented strong cases as why they're more than just dependable backups.

Only twelve of the top 100 goalkeepers aren't playing in the US, although goalkeepers playing stateside has been a growing trend for the pbuschast few years. There aren't many goalkeepers on the list currently playing in Europe but the likes of Jonathan Klinsmann (20) and Brandon Austin (19) should start to make waves for themselves in the next couple years.


1. Tim Melia, 31 - Sporting Kansas City (USA.1)
2. Brad Guzan, 33 - Atlanta United (USA.1)
3. Luis Robles, 33 - New York Red Bulls (USA.1)
4. Joe Bendik, 29 - Orlando City SC (USA.1)
5. Tim Howard, 39 - Colorado Rapids (USA.1)
6. Stefan Frei, 32 - Seattle Sounders (USA.1)
7. Bill Hamid, 27 - FC Midtjylland (Denmark.1)
8. Jimmy Maurer, 30 - FC Dallas (USA.1)
9. Zack Steffen, 23 - Columbus Crew (USA.1)
10. Tyler Miller, 25 - Los Angeles FC (USA.1)

Bill says: 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Tim Melia, retains the crown after just being placed on MLS's Team of the Week for his ten save performance. Robles did more than his part in guiding the Red Bulls to a semi-final run in the CONCACAF Champions League. Hamid recently debuted for his new club, taking part in 2-1 win in the Danish Cup quarterfinal. Maurer has quietly filled in extremely well for injured Jesse Gonzalez, conceding only three goals in four games for FC Dallas. Despite being Zlatan'd, Miller has had an outstanding start to the season, making Sounders fans disappointed to see him leave during the expansion draft.


11. Alex Bono, 24 - Toronto FC (USA.1)
12. Steve Clark, 32 - DC United (USA.1)
13. Bobby Shuttleworth, 30 - Minnesota United FC (USA.1)
14. William Yarbrough, 29 - Leon (Mexico.1)
15. Sean Johnson, 28 - New York City FC (USA.1)
16. Joe Willis, 29 - Houston Dynamo (USA.1)
17. Jeff Attinella, 29 - Portland Timbers (USA.1)
18. Ethan Horvath, 22 - Club Brugge (Belgium.1)
19. Chris Seitz, 31 - Houston Dynamo (USA.1)
20. Alex Horwath, 31 - Real Salt Lake (USA.1)

Bill says: It's hard to pin down Alex Bono's ceiling but if he keeps making saves like these, he may not be in MLS too much longer. Yarbrough was recently dropped from the first team selection after maintaining only two clean sheets this year. Matt Pzydrowski recently published a piece on Sean Johnson's return to form and why he's starting to perform with more consistency. Horvath hasn't played for Club Brugge since November of last year and will most likely move elsewhere after the end of the season.


21. David Bingham, 28 - Los Angeles Galaxy (USA.1)
22. Jon Kempin, 25 - Columbus Crew (USA.1)
23. Nick Rimando, 38 - Real Salt Lake (USA.1)
24. Evan Newton, 30 - Cincinnati FC (USA.2)
25. Patrick McLain, 29 - Chicago Fire (USA.1)
26. Brian Rowe, 29 - Vancouver Whitecaps (USA.1)
27. Evan Bush, 32 - Montreal Impact (USA.1)
28. Cody Mizell, 26 - Tampa Bay Rowdies (USA.2)
29. Richard Sanchez, 24 - Chicago Fire (USA.1)
30. Abraham Romero, 20 - Pachuca (Mexico.1)

Bill says: It's only six games into the season but I don't think Bingham has proved why he was worth the $200,000 in allocated money just yet. There's still time left in the season but it's starting to look like the Galaxy missed an opportunity to capitalize on Kempin, who filled in admirably in Zack Steffen's absence a few weeks ago. There isn't much press on USL goalkeepers but Newton and Mizell are doing well to set the bar for the rest of the league. While Romero is most definitely leaning towards playing for Mexico, Sanchez is a good example of how a promising U20 Mexican goalkeeper can actually have more success in MLS, if not the US.


31. Matt Lampson, 28 - Minnesota United FC (USA.1)
32. Zac MacMath, 26 - Colorado Rapids (USA.1)
33. Matt Pickens, 36 - Nashville SC (USA.2)
34. Ryan Meara, 27 - New York Red Bulls (USA.1)
35. Trevor Spangenberg, 27 - Richmond Kickers (USA.2)
36. Clint Irwin, 29 - Toronto FC (USA.1)
37. Matt Turner, 23 - New England Revolution (USA.1)
38. Matt Pyzdrowski, 31 - Varbergs BoIS (Sweden.2)
39. Brendan Moore, 26 - Rochdale (England.3)
40. Charlie Lyon, 26 - Los Angeles FC (USA.1)

Bill says: I don't know how Pickens continues to do it but even at 36 he still manages to end up in Save of Week compilations. MacMath and Moore patiently await in the wings to return to the field but like Horvath, will likely have a better chance elsewhere than their current team. While Matt Turner may seem a little low at the moment, he wasn't even listed on last year's top 100 so we're going to curtail his meteoric rise just a little bit, but if you're impressing Brad Friedel then you're doing something right.


41. Brandon Miller, 28 - Charlotte Independence (USA.2)
42. Mitch Hildebrandt, 29 - Atlanta United (USA.1)
43. Adam Grinwis, 26 - Orlando City SC (USA.1)
44. Spencer Richey, 25 - Cincinnati FC (USA.2)
45. Eric Dick, 23 - Sporting Kansas City (USA.1)
46. Brad Stuver, 27 - New York City FC (USA.1)
47. Quentin Westberg, 32 - AJ Auxerre (France.2)
48. Diego Restrepo, 30 - San Antonio FC (USA.2)
49. Brian Sylvestre, 25 - Los Angeles Galaxy (USA.1)
50. Earl Edwards, 26 - Orlando City SC (USA.1)

Bill says: It's unfortunate Orlando City folded their USL team for the 2018 season as promising goalkeepers Adam Grinwis and Earl Edwards are limited to training sessions behind Joe Bendik now. Stuver was linked to Oxford United back in January but it seems the rumor either fell through or had no legs to stand on to begin with. 2015 USL Goalkeeper of the Year Brandon Miller still looks for his first start, currently sitting behind Andrew Dykstra in Charlotte. Restrepo recently penned his own story on USL's site, covering his journey from almost retiring to becoming the 2017 USL Goalkeeper of the Year.


51. Akira Fitzgerald, 30 - Tampa Bay Rowdies (USA.2)
52. Zac Lubin, 28 - Phoenix Rising (USA.2)
53. Andrew Tarbell, 24 - San Jose Earthquakes (USA.1)
54. Cody Cropper, 25 - New England Revolution (USA.1)
55. Alec Kann, 27 - Atlanta United (USA.1)
56. Andrew Dykstra, 32 - Charlotte Independence (USA.2)
57. Logan Ketterer, 24 - Columbus Crew (USA.1)
58. Andre Rawls, 28 - Orange County SC (USA.1)
59. Kyle Zobeck, 28 - FC Dallas (USA.2)
60. Wade Hamilton, 23 - Los Angeles Galaxy II (USA.2)

Bill says: Lubin was playing in Sweden this time last year but returned to the states and is currently the number two behind Carl Woszczynski. It hasn't been a smooth start for Andrew Tarbell as he's conceded eight goals in four games but San Jose doesn't seem to be hinting at having doubts in the young goalkeeper. Portland let Hamilton walk after last season and the 23-year-old has settled nicely into LAG's USL side.


61. Jon Busch, 41 - Free Agent (None)
62. John McCarthy, 25 - Philadelphia Union (USA.1)
63. Matt Bersano, 25 - San Jose Earthquakes (USA.1)
64. Matt Van Oekel, 31 - Oklahoma City Energy FC (USA.2)
65. Travis Worra, 25 - DC United (USA.1)
66. Austin Guerrero, 29 - North Carolina FC (USA.2)
67. Will Dieterich, 31 - Stjarnan (Iceland.1)
68. Carl Woszczynski, 30 - Phoenix Rising (USA.2)
69. Cody Laurendi, 29 - Oklahoma City Energy FC (USA.2)
70. Kris Devaux, 26 - Bryne FK (Norway.2)

Bill says: McCarthy (Bethlehem Steel) and Worra (Richmond Kickers) have both found some success in the USL this year, combining for seven starts and eleven goals allowed. Bersano hasn't returned to my favorite USL side, Reno 1868 FC, as he's moved up to the backup spot for the Earthquakes instead. Cohen and Sacramento haven't seen an L on their schedule yet, going 3-0-1 in their first four games.


71. Josh Cohen, 25 - Sacramento Republic (USA.2)
72. Rafael Diaz, 26 - Sacramento Republic (USA.2)
73. Jesse Gonzalez, 22 - FC Dallas (USA.1)
74. Tomas Gomez, 24 - St. Louis FC (USA.2)
75. Jake McGuire, 23 - Philadelphia Union (USA.1)
76. Kendall McIntosh, 24 - Portland Timbers (USA.1)
77. Jeff Caldwell, 22 - New York City FC (USA.1)
78. Brad Knighton, 33 - New England Revolution (USA.1)
79. Kyle Morton, 24 - Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USA.2)
80. Eric Lopez, 19 - Los Angeles Galaxy II (USA.2)

Bill says: Gonzalez and Gomez are currently nursing respective knee and hip injuries, although Gonzalez could have trouble regaining his starting spot with Jimmy Maurer doing so well in goal. McIntosh still has some rough edges to smooth out but he's had some really fantastic saves this early into his season. While UVA alum Jeff Caldwell hasn't made his professional debut yet, Kyle Morton notched his first start last weekend in a 4-0 route over Toronto II. U20 US goalkeeper Eric Lopez is looking to quickly rebound from his only start this year, a 3-0 loss to neighboring Orange County SC. 


81. Tim Dobrowolski, 24 - Louisville City FC (USA.2)
82. Ben Lundgaard, 22 - Indy Eleven (USA.2)
83. Mike Lansing, 23 - Aalborg BK (Denmark.1)
84. Todd Morton, 22 - Delaware (USA.N)
85. Drew Shepherd, 23 - Toronto FC II (USA.2)
86. Alex Kapp, 23 - Minnesota United FC (USA.1)
87. Austin Pack, 24 - Portland Timbers II (USA.2)
88. Bobby Edwards, 22 - Monmouth (USA.N)
89. JT Marcinkowski, 20 - San Jose Earthquakes (USA.1)
90. Evan Louro, 22 - New York Red Bulls (USA.1)

Bill says: Lundgaard was quite the sought after prospect during the MLS SuperDraft but surgery on his thumb has delayed fans on getting to watch the Virginia Tech alum in goal. Collegiate goalkeepers Todd Morton (highlights) and Bobby Edwards (highlights) go into their senior years as some of the top MLS prospects. USYNT alumni Marcinkowski and Louro will spend most of 2018 season in the USL, with hopes of landing in MLS down the line.


91. Connor Sparrow, 23 - Real Salt Lake (USA.1)
92. Nick Gardner, 22 - Denver (USA.N)
93. Andrew Putna, 23 - Real Monarchs (USA.2)
94. Stefan Cleveland, 23 - Chicago Fire (USA.1)
95. Kyle Ihn, 23 - Reno 1868 FC (USA.2)
96. Michael Nelson, 23 - Houston Dynamo (USA.1)
97. Nico Corti, 22 - Rio Grande Valley FC (USA.2)
98. Dan Lynd, 24 - Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USA.2)
99. Scott Levene, 22 - New York Red Bulls II (USA.2)
100. Austin Rogers, 22 - FC Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia.1)

Bill says: Ihn recently made his first professional start, showcasing a nice smothering save across the goalmouth. Rookie Michael Nelson has yet to make his first start as RGV has opted for Stanford alum Nico Corti for their first three matches. Austin Rogers returns to Ulaanbaatar for the 2018 season after being named the league's goalkeeper of the year.

Everybody Soccer Update - March 2018

I don't do a ton of updates about the site - to be honest I can't remember the last one I've done here - but I wanted to keep readers up to date as I've been fairly quiet for a while. I'm currently working on two big projects and half-working on a number of articles.

1. Return of the Podcast - I'm reviving the podcast with help from a number of guests. I enjoy talking goalkeeping to others and oddly enough, don't enjoy having to record solely myself talking for an extended amount of time. So the middle ground is recording people talking to me about goalkeeping, which I've thoroughly enjoyed much more this go around. I currently have a couple of episodes burning a hole in my back pocket but the idea is to do a bi-monthly release from here on out.

The first episode of "season 2" can currently be found on iTunes. If you search "Everybody Soccer" on the iTunes store you should be able to locate it in the podcast section. Or you can listen to the latest episode on the site, featuring the one and only Stan Anderson.

2. Automated GSAR - The second big project is releasing an automated version of my GSAR (goals saved above replacement). It's something I've flirted with for the past four years and while I can't completely automate it for every action a goalkeeper makes, I've gotten pretty close. Frankly I don't think a completely automated goalkeeping stat assesses goalkeepers correctly, as there are a number of situations where we don't have the sample size to test against a formula.

That said, out of 230 non-passing actions I've charted, I've only "fixed" seven by hand. The rest are compiled by a formula and without bias, which I'm pretty happy about. It's a lot of work and something I want to present for the first time (whenever that happens) correctly.

3. Upcoming articles - As for articles, I'm hoping to release a top 100 list for the men at the start of next month and one for the women not long after. (I'm currently waiting for the NWSL season to get rolling before I put my foot in my mouth.) I'm also working with soccer historian Steve Holroyd on a top 10 list for American goalkeepers, sorted by decade. There's another post listing all the off-field charity work I've seen from goalkeepers in the past year, which is surprisingly extensive. I've half-started another article as a plea for which goalkeepers should be in the US Soccer Hall of Fame but with everything else going on... we'll see.

As for current content, I've just added a new article which is actually a response to an email I received but just reformated into a post. Nothing groundbreaking but hopefully something I can cite for parents and collegiate goalkeepers down the line.

Q&A With a Parent of a Prospective Student-Athlete

Recently I received an email from a parent whose son is bound for a Division I program. They asked a few questions that will hopefully be beneficial for more than just one parent, as I've seen similar questions asked more than once. I've reformatted the answers and changed the goalkeeper's name to keep anonymity.


What’s the average number of years that a college goalkeeper plays before being drafted?

Goalkeepers seem to be an exception when it comes to getting into MLS. A number of field players will leave college early (as they should) but college develops goalkeepers more consistently. So staying all four years isn't a knock on them. The only way a goalkeeper can enter MLS before graduating is through a homegrown contract or a Generation Adidas contract, which the latter is offered to underclassmen specifically. So if I had to ballpark the answer to your question, I would say 3.5+. For every one JT Marcinkowski and Evan Louro, there are another ten goalkeepers who stayed all four years.


Does D1, D2, D3, or NAIA make a difference?

Coming from a D1 program most certainly makes a difference, although it's not impossible to overcome the stigma of not being D1. Tim Melia was a D2 goalkeeper and now with USL opening up, there are a number of non-D1 goalkeepers in the system. But for those non-D1 goalkeepers, they either have to be very fortunate (USL teams will occasionally sign local kids, Reno FC and Las Vegas for example) or have an extensive list of connections. D1 goalkeepers can ride off their accomplishments more securely than non-D1 goalkeepers can. It's an uphill climb that favors D1 goalkeepers, but not inherently impossible for the rest.


Does conference make a difference (ACC, Big 10, Big East, etc.)?

I would sincerely doubt conferences have any real sway when it comes to draft time. A number of goalkeepers have come from smaller conferences over the past years. If anything, I might think playing in a competitive conference could hurt a goalkeeper in terms of publicity. Teams seem to gravitate towards "first team all-conference" goalkeepers over second teamers, even if the latter was only named behind a stud USYNT goalkeeper. 

In terms of development, you could argue top conferences develop better goalkeepers but I personally haven't noticed that. Top schools recruit better goalkeepers, but I wouldn't say playing in the Pac-12 is necessarily going to make a better goalkeeper than C-USA. There are a lot of other factors that go into it.


Once drafted, how long do they last?

There are one or two career goalkeepers in every draft but most goalkeepers have trouble catching on in MLS. If you go back over the last five drafts, I would expect maybe at least a quarter of them to already be out of the league, with most of them with other teams. Teams are either drafting potential starters or guys to just fill the roster. So unless they're really banking on the goalkeeper to blossom down the line, they can easily ship them out. This is an exhausting experience for players so a number of them will retire earlier than they could have, although understandably so.

Ryan Bacic and the Washington Post recently published an article on top newcomers walking away from the game much earlier than expected.


Does national team appearances (youth or adult) factor in?

USYNT call-ups absolutely make a difference. If a player is called into a camp or two, they will wear their "USYNT badge" for the rest of their career, similar to how we call people "doctors" after finishing their dissertation. It truly is uncanny of how USYNT alumni are viewed, as if they just need to tap into this unlimited potential they have stored somewhere. This is twice as important for players who were invited into at least one USMNT cap.

I hope that helps, let me add one more thing to help explain the process a little better.

Publicity is more important than talent in regards to getting your foot in the door of a professional team. The USYNT badge is one example of this. MLS academy status and coaching connections are some others. Teams are more likely to bring in a familiar goalkeeper than take a gamble on an unknown. To some extent, I understand the thought process behind this, but it's too extreme for me. Too many goalkeepers are starting their careers with teams in USL or Europe instead of MLS because teams aren't familiar enough with a senior that was off the radar.

So remember this as y'all move forward. Make as many connections as y'all can. Play in a summer league with a good team that will take care of Reece, attend goalkeeper training sessions with different high profile goalkeeper coaches, make sure MLS goalkeeper coaches see his highlight tape, etc. If no one knows of Reece when he graduates, regardless of how good he is, he will have a very hard time making the jump.