Kasey Keller was in typically imperious form as he held Chris Wondolowski and the San Jose Earthquakes to a single goal in Seattle's 2-1 comeback win
A celebrated career is coming to a close.
Kasey Keller played his final regular season match at CenturyLink Field on Saturday in front of an astounding 64,410 fans. While it was not the largest crowd in Major League Soccer history, (69,255 is the record, set in 1996 at the Rose Bowl between LA Galaxy and New York MetroStars, the first MLS match for either team), the numbers still show just how much Keller has meant to the city, franchise, and the league.
The 41-year old goalkeeper, who is originally from Olympia, Wash., is finishing his third season in goal for the Seattle franchise. Since starting the team's inaugural match, Keller has led the Sounders to multiple team honors, including three consecutive US Cup victories.
It was only fitting that Keller kept a clean sheet in the inaugural match two years ago, and was remarkable in victory in his final home game.
While making his rounds in Europe, playing for clubs such as Leicester City, Tottenham, and Fulham, Keller became a national soccer figure in the 1990s, fittingly playing for the U.S. national team. He will retire as the most capped goalkeeper in United States history with 102 career caps.
On Saturday, the thousands of fans that packed CenturyLink Field saw what has seemingly become routine with Keller, as he made a season-high seven saves on the night. He was most impressive mid-match, stopping a litany of shots in the 65th minute, as San Jose looked to put the game away.
While he did let in a shot by last week's Player of the Week Chris Wondolowski, as plenty other goalkeepers have done this season, San Jose was shut out following the early goal. (Wondolowski is tied for the lead in the Golden Boot standings with Dwayne De Rosario at 15 goals on the year.)
Keller has never been one to be afraid of leaving his position to halt an opposing charge or to sacrifice his body to make a diving save. He has done so many times throughout his MLS, European, and international career. But beyond his style of play, Keller has always had a true sense of professionalism to him. Even after being named backup to Brad Friedel for the 2002 World Cup, he simply returned to lead the United States to a 2005 Gold Cup Championship.
While you would be hard pressed to get Keller to talk about his career success, just watching him this past season proves how dedicated and how talented of a player he has been for the last twenty one years. Seattle will not only be replacing a man in goal next season, they will be replacing a true local and national icon.