Raul Fernandez

MLS Season Preview: Ranking the top 10 goalkeepers

12 Comments

The countdown to the 2014 Major League Soccer season is ticking away and very shortly MLS will be back with a bang, as a spectacular season awaits.

We’ve been rolling out season previews of every team at PST and now it’s time to focus on each position and share who we think are the top 10 players.

LATEST 2014 MLS PREVIEWS, RIGHT HERE

Let’s take a look at the best men between the sticks as our season preview continues with the Top Ten goalkeepers in MLS.

source: Getty Images
Rimando

1. Nick Rimando – Real Salt Lake

It was difficult to separate the top half of this list, but it’s difficult to make a list of the league’s best keepers without putting Rimando at No. 1. When it comes to finishing a game strong and being where he needs to be, Rimando passes the smell test. His advanced stats also show a pretty telling figure, as he’s considered the top keeper for an attack according to Squawka. If I’m starting a team for this season only and need a no-doubt keeper, it’s Rimando.

2. Julio Cesar – Toronto FC

Yes, he’ll have to adapt to a new league and no, it’s not like goalkeeping was a problem for TFC last year, but Cesar’s resume speaks for itself. The Brazil goalkeeper may have fought for playing time this year behind former English international Robert Green, but how many keepers in this league have finished Top 25 in Ballon d’Or voting in their career? Now that’s loaded — I realize MLS players aren’t going to get votes there — but Cesar has five Serie A title, two Confederation Cups and a UEFA Champions League title this is okay.

3. Donovan Ricketts – Portland

Ricketts has a knack for the outlandish “How did he do that?” save, and I’m not sure a week has gone by where he wasn’t at least in the discussion for the Save of the Week award. The numbers say he’s very, very good.

4. Troy Perkins – Montreal

This will require a lengthy diatribe, because I continue to read lists of top MLS goalkeepers that don’t include the 32-year-old Ohio native, which is baffling. Montreal hemorrhaged shots on net in 2014, and advanced stats say Perkins was very good on a team that didn’t defend well. In fact, Perkins posted the highest Squawka score in MLS last season, with only one negative performance in the bunch to drag him down.

He had the top defensive score and best possession score of all MLS keepers in 2013. Advanced stats aren’t everything, so he’ll sit fourth… but perhaps it’s his location in Quebec that’s keeping him out of the discussion.

source:
http://www.squawka.com

5. Clint Irwin – Colorado

Ten clean sheets last season, and will be counted on to provide stability as Colorado transitions from Oscar Pareja following the coach’s departure for Dallas.

6. Tally Hall – Houston

Athletic and strong in defense, Hall is just that little bit away from being atop this list. The knock on Hall is consistency, as he’ll post just as many negative performances as positive… though the highs aren’t so high and lows aren’t howlers.

7. Luis Robles – New York

Robles probably deserves more consideration for a higher spot on this list considering his resurgence from real woes early in his season. He’s a shot-stopper who sees the field well and can benefit the attack.

8. Jaime Penedo – Los Angeles

source: Getty Images
Penedo

Impossible to ignore how he put the Galaxy on his back at times last season, but one season does not a career make and I’m wary to put him high on the list.

9. Raul Fernandez – Dallas

The Peruvian has plenty left to prove, but should benefit from the arrival of Pareja as his head coach. Plenty to like about Fernandez.

10. Jon Busch – San Jose

He’s a feast or famine keeper who is capable of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but gets the nod over Chivas’ Dan Kennedy, Philadelphia’s Zac MacMath, New England’s Bobby Shuttleworth and others.

More: The Top Ten rookies in Major League Soccer

One man staying put FC Dallas – but a big one may be on the way out

1 Comment

FC Dallas has re-signed one of its loyal soldiers – but concern surely is coming out of suburban Toyota Stadium today about some disquieting news on its All-Star backstopper.

The official news is that right back Zach Loyd has re-signed with FCD, a very solid move for the club.

Loyd is the consummate “backbone” guy in MLS, the kind that every successful club has scattered through its roster. The fifth-year pro, the No. 5 overall pick in 2010, is in the big lump of players who reside just this side of national team consideration. He had a little run with Jurgen Klinsmann two years back but did not quite catch.

So he’s a solid MLS man who doesn’t kill anyone on the cap. No, he’s never going to threaten to bump into DP territory. But given the tight salary restrictions of MLS, you need a few of these just to consider having DPs.

Think of guys like Sporting KC’s Chance Myers, New England’s Kevin Alston, Chicago’s Logan Pause (for years and years now) and on and on.

Now the club can concentrate on the personnel issue that may be creeping up on them … and it’s a potential biggie. Reports are circulating that goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, who was such a revelation last year, may be heading back to his native Peru.

And, of course, the team has a little coaching issue to sort out.

But what’s the hurry? They’ve only been without a top man in charge for about two and a half months now.

Which MLS team will be crunched most by international departures in Round 28?

8 Comments

Difficult as it is, let’s try to skip the part where we wonder about Major League Soccer’s ongoing, stubborn insistence of playing through this week’s FIFA international break.

In fairness MLS has made some progress here, attempting to shrink the slate of league contests around World Cup qualifiers and other international dates – but this “progress” is arriving at a plodding pace.

But, again, let’s just power through that for now. Rather, let’s talk about which teams will be taxed the most star power.

The Galaxy, on such a roll lately, top this unfortunate list. They will miss fabulously in-form Landon Donovan (pictured), league MVP candidate Robbie Keane and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo for this week’s visit by Colorado.

That’s going to hurt, especially as L.A. has ground to recover in the Supporters Shield chase. Keane and Donovan will take so much of the offense with them, while the goalkeeping gloves will be handed back to Carlo Cudicini, who just can’t help the team with the big save the way Penedo can. (We all remember the work of wonder from just a couple weeks back, right? Video of that one is at the bottom of this post.)

FC Dallas, desperate for points to help arrest that long summer slide and still in pitched battle with about five teams for three playoff spots, will also miss its starting goalkeeper and leading scorer. In fact, Dallas’ date at home against Vancouver could be called a “playoff six-pointer.”

And then there is Sporting Kansas City, where Kei Kamara just flew the KC coop for a second England adventure. Peter Vermes’ team will also be without center back Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi, both called into Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23-man camp for the pair of important upcoming qualifiers.

Kansas City hosts Columbus, which will be in “fresh start” mode under interim boss Brian Bliss – but without its top man, suspended playmaker Federico Higuain.

.

Major League Soccer’s mid-season Newcomer of the Year: New England’s Jose Goncalves

2 Comments

World soccer being such the transient place it is, there are always abundant choices for Newcomer of the Year in MLS, where players come and go like it was taco night in the dorm cafeteria.

This year is no different. And so far, we don’t have a choice that’s obvious as two soccer balls on the field, as we did last year in Columbus’ Federico Higuain.

So, here goes our best effort to sort out this one. (Fifteen rounds of play remain … a lot could happen, including introductions of new players from the summer transfer season.)

My pick is: New England’s Jose Goncalves

First up, you say it “gon-SAL-vez.” I mean, if the guy is going to win a major award, we probably should know how to say his name.

Any way you say it, he’s way up in the conversation. New England was hanging on in matches in the season’s early days even though they needed about three games just to score once. A big part of the reason was Goncalves’ steady work in the back. Even now, New England’s 14 goals allowed is best in MLS.

More than just the body of work at center back, Goncalves is helping tudor some of the Revs’ promising young talent in the back, like rookie right back Andrew Farrell and converted midfielder Stephen McCarthy.

Others to monitor over the final 15 rounds (in alphabetical order): 

  • Vancouver Whitecaps Nigel Reo Coker
  • FC Dallas Raul Fernandez
  • FC Dallas’ Michel
  • Sporting Kansas City’s Claudio Bieler
  • Portland Timber’s Diego Valeri
  • New England Revolution’s Diego Fagundez

Fans mostly get it right in MLS All-Star fan balloting

10 Comments

Fan voting in All-Star proceedings frequently devolves into a painful reminder of the world’s imperfections.

But I gotta hand it to MLS fans: they pretty much nailed it with the collective All-Star picks, which were announced Sunday by the league.

Remember, this is not necessarily the team; SKC manager Peter Vermes is in charge. He can pick who he wants, although most managers have tried to remain as faithful as possible to the fans’ selections.

Here is the list (with more commentary on how the fans got it right below …)

Goalkeeper: Raul Fernández (FC Dallas)

Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)

Midfielders: Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Will Johnson (Portland Timbers), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes).

  • The 11th player, forward, will be selected July 11 in a schlocky marketing stunt along with FIFA Soccer 13.
  • I was especially pleased to see that Portland’s Johnson had made the list. He really is having a sensational season, the driving midfield force for so much that’s going right this year around Jeld-Wen. As there are certainly more illuminated names, it would have been easy for fans to miss this one.
  • The nitpicks would be Brad Davis and Chris Wondolowski, neither of whom are having their best years. Neither has been awful in 2013, necessarily; they just aren’t up to previous year’s versions of themselves.
  • Robbie Keane deserves the forward spot over Wondolowski, or perhaps Marco de Vaio or even young Jack McInerney.
  • If you see Henry as an aging star not necessarily deserving of a spot, you haven’t seen the way that guy can still turn a match in a second with moment of his class.
  • Holding midfielders got no love. Then again, holding midfielders never get any love.

The MLS All-Stars meet AS Roma on July 31 at Sporting Park in suburban Kansas City.