With the regular season in the books, Tony makes his pick for the best goalkeeper in MLS this seasonHaving this power rankings column each month has been a fun way for me to follow MLS action and interact with fans across the league, as I make my picks for who should earn the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year award at year’s end. Well, it’s year’s end, so let’s make it official;.....my picks at least. The MLS will announce the winner Nov. 28.
|1. Jimmy Nielsen, Sporting Kansas City (1)
There is no debate in my eyes who has been the league’s best goalkeeper this year. Jimmy Nielsen has proven himself in so many areas, notably shutouts (15), goals per game (0.79) and big saves (five Save of the Week honors). Something you don’t always see, Nielsen appeared in all 34 regular season matches, putting Sporting KC in a better position to win every night. As my last rankings pointed out, this has simply been “the year of the Jimmy.”
|2. Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake (3)
Nick Rimando’s final month of the regular season saw he and his RSL teammates face off against three playoff-bound sides, in which Rimando allowed only one goal for an unbeaten October. A holistic peek at Rimando’s season, you have to admire his 12 shutouts and goals against average of 1.06, but where he remains the best in the league is making that one save that changes the dynamic of the match. To that point, Rimando tallied a league-high seven MLS Save of the Week honors.
|3. Tally Hall, Houston Dynamo (NR)
Tally Hall spent much of this year on my watch list, most notably for his 12 regular season shutouts and 1.19 goals against average. After Houston struggled early in its campaign, Hall propelled the Dynamo in July/August, providing five clean sheets in six matches. After playing into November playoff action with a 2-1 victory over the Fire, the Dynamo upset conference favorite Kansas City, in large part to a clean sheet in the first leg of the home-away. Hall now just needs one more solid performance against D.C. United to return to MLS Cup.
|4. Michael Gspurning, Seattle Sounders (NR)
Without an injury early into the season, Michael Gspurning would have been a steady contender in my eyes throughout the year. Though I can’t give equal credit to Gspurning as I have to the men featured above, he has battled back to keep Seattle a relevant threat in the title chase. Eight of his 21 appearances have resulted in clean sheets, in addition to 12 wins and a freakish 0.73 goals against average. Kasey Keller left big shoes to fill for Gspurning, but Sounders fans have rallied behind their new man in goal.
|5. Josh Saunders, Los Angeles Galaxy (4)
LA Galaxy’s return to form was one of my favorite stories to watch this season. Talk about a dramatic entrance to the playoffs, as consistent results (let alone wins) did not begin to surface until mid-June! When a team is struggling, every conceded goal takes an enormous toll on the entire side. Josh Saunders stepped up like a veteran should to secure the Galaxy’s net, allowing the star-studded side to regain its form. He posted nine shutouts, a 1.33 goals against average and a Save of the Week honor against San Jose that mirrored a game of pinball back in Week 17.