Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Preseason unit rankings: goalkeepers

Here is the second of my four preseason unit rankings. I didn't put the goalkeepers in with the defense. I felt they needed a look of their own.

1. Chivas USA. Brad Guzan is hands down the best goalkeeper in MLS. The only worrisome spot is his backup. There is no other goalkeeper on the roster right now. If Guzan bolts during the summer transfer window, Chivas could be crippled. Still, Guzan is good for several stellar saves a match.

2. New England. Matt Reis is reliable and dependable, so much so that you kind of take him for granted. While it’s not necessarily a plus for him, Reis probably won’t be called into U.S. national team duty too much which means more games for him this season.

3. Houston. Pat Onstad is the oldest goalkeeper in MLS, but that’s not exactly slowing him down. Onstad made a strong case for 2007 Goalkeeper of the Year but he had to be content with winning his third MLS Cup.

4. San Jose. Joe Cannon and Preston Burpo are a solid 1-2 punch, but Cannon is the man barring injury. Cannon led San Jose to its first MLS Cup title back in 2001 and hasn’t slowed down much since.

5. Colorado. Bouna Coundoul can make the spectacular save look easy but can also make the easy save into an adventure. He’s developed quickly since he was thrust into the fire in 2006. Bouna Time is now on 24/7, and the Rapids will benefit.

6. D.C. United. Zach Wells is seemingly the heir apparent to Troy Perkins while Jose Carvallo is a promising number two. Both should play a lot this year as D.C. will compete in five tournaments.

7. Columbus. Will Hesmer seemingly will stop the revolving door the Crew have had at goalkeeper for several years. Hesmer has a lot of upside and will be put to test with the shaky defense in front of him.

8. Kansas City. Kevin Hartman is talented but he’s not getting any younger. Some complained about Hartman’s weight last year, as he put on some pounds from his days with the Galaxy. A heavier Hartman had some trouble with his mobility that a lighter Hartman does not.

9. New York. No more aging Dutch ‘keeper around, so this job is Jon Conway’s to lose. Conway has never been a full-time starter, though. Can he handle the load?

10. FC Dallas. Dario Sala and Ray Burse can each have their moments, but can also provide headaches. Burse has more upside but Sala is a bit more settled in the goal.

11. Real Salt Lake. Nick Rimando has won an MLS Cup but isn’t a championship-caliber goalkeeper any more. Rimando has his moments but is tested too much playing behind RSL’s poor defense.

12. Chicago. Matt Pickens will be missed. Jon Busch is a health concern and is unlikely to make it through an entire season healthy. Not much behind Busch either.

13. Toronto. Greg Sutton has played a lot in the United Soccer League. Can he handle the rigors of playing in Major League Soccer?

14. Los Angeles. Steve Cronin has been waiting in the wings for years, but there is a reason why Cronin never got a chance. He’s a decent backup and can play well in a pinch but is not number one material.

19 comments:

Jim said...

Hmm, I think you're under rating Rimando. He's certainly not behind Conway, Hesmer, or the Dallas duo.

A.C. said...

I'd agree with Cronin's ranking only because he hasn't proven himself yet. But Matt Reis was Hartman's backup for years - that didn't mean he wasn't a good goalkeeper. Sometimes a starter just stays ridiculously healthy.

ben said...

ahahahaha...Rimando (and Seitz) at 11??? Someone obviously doesn't watch much RSL. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Nick Rimando was the best keeper in MLS last year. Even if you don't expect another superhuman season from him, which is reasonable, RSL still is in the top 5 in MLS for goalkeepers. GK is about RSL's only above league average position.

Shirtees.net said...

WOW. LA Galaxy LAST and Chivas FIRST? So much of journalistic objectivity.

Anonymous said...

You're wrong about Cronin. The reason he's been backup is not because he sucks; it's because of who he's had to back up.

Anonymous said...

Hi Luis:

Cronin beat out Hesmer and Wells in national team camp for the backup spot versus Sweden, no? I think you're crazy to think he's behind Sutton and Busch (whom I really like), too. Good for you for putting out your rankings and giving us discussion fodder.

Laura

Anonymous said...

And Hartman was Campos' backup.

Zathras said...

Re: Sutton,
I'm not sure how the 'rigors' of MLS are worse than the USL. The USL has many back-to-back games and worse travel than MLS teams do.

The level of play will certainly be higher, and that is the question, but he's got a dozen or so caps for Canada backing up Pat Onstad, including one start at the Gold Cup. So he isn't wholley inexperienced at a higher level.

Jonathan Geissler said...

I don't think Hesmer and Thornton/Conway are better than Hartman, Sala/Burse, and Rimando/Seitz.

Not in my opinion anyway...

CACuzcatlan said...

shirtees.net, I wouldn't say they are playing favorites. You know I'm a Galaxy fan cause I post on BigSoccer. Its clear that Guzan is the best in the league, hands down. While our last place keeper may not be as clear, he has never been a starter and isn't proven at all in the league. I don't see any problem with these rankings.

Anonymous said...

No, putting Chivas first is a joke. Guzan is all but gone in the summer which will leave Chivas crippled in the back. That has to rate high in the rankings but it obviously doesn't.
And color me confused, but wasn't Cronin just in USMNT camp backing up Guzan? Cronin's backed up Hartman and now Cannon and has been in the League for 3 years. That's not exactly "years" as a backup. Reis did how many years behind Hartman? Wells did how many years in Houston. Jon Conway's been a journeyman backup for awhile now too.
I think if the Galaxy had Buffon in goal, he still would have ended up bottom in LB's rankings simply because of the shirt he's wearing...

Anonymous said...

Simply ridiculous, Luis. Your Chivas favoritism is REALLY starting to show these last few weeks.

So what if Guzan is the best keeper in the league. But how can Chivas be in the best goalkeeper situation with only ONE keeper, a guy who will probably leave in the summer?

And has Will Hesmer really proven himself either? Cronin had a better national team camp then him AND Pickens, yet he's last on your list.

Just stick to writing about Chivas, because its obvious thats the only team you care to write favorably about.

CACuzcatlan said...

Are you illiterate? The name of the post is PRE-Season rankings. Not MID-season or POST-season. Guzan is here now and he is the best. You guys are worst than videogame fanboys.

TrickHog said...

Rankings are tough. Based on pedigree and experience/awards/etc. prior to appearing in MLS, I'd say Cronin rates higher than several of the keepers above him on Luis' list. And if based Cronin's ranking just on his USOC game last season vs. RBNY, then he'd be in the top five.

But he has less MLS games under his belt than any of the other keepers, so I'm fine with him being last. I hope the entire league takes him (and our team) lightly... :)

I personally think he'll be at least half-way up that list by season's end.

Soledad said...

If I were you Luis, I would always put Galaxy dead last on any and all rankings. On principle. The principle of comedy.

If you could put Galaxy and Chivas tied for last, it'd be grand.

ericpz said...

I read an article a couple of weeks ago that Hartman has been on a special diet all winter and shed a few pounds. You may wanna look into that a bit.

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