In the pursuit of tracking the top MLS keepers around, this monthly list is my take on who is in the running to take the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year award at season’s end. In the spirit of good debate, let your picks be known in the comments below.
|1. Donovan Ricketts, Portland Timbers (4)
Donovan Ricketts appears to be a rejuvenated player under Caleb Porter. The veteran has come away with the most frequent big saves among his peers that have translated to points in the table, most recently a clinical stop in extra time that preserved three points on the road against Sporting KC. The Timbers are one of three teams with a league-high four ties to their name, and a pair of those could have easily gone south without #1 in goal. Did I mention Ricketts claimed three of the first eight Saves of the Week?
|2. Jimmy Nielsen, Sporting Kansas City (3)
Last year’s Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, Jimmy Nielsen, has been tested 26 times this season, which is the fewest among goalkeepers with six or more games played. That said, Nielsen owns the shutouts column with five in his first nine matches. Regardless of how busy he’s been, the veteran has steadily done his job. This month, Nielsen faces LA Chivas, Seattle, Houston (twice) and D.C.
|3. Troy Perkins, Montreal Impact (Not Ranked)
Montreal has been MLS’ storyline of the year. Despite having played the fewest matches in the East, the Impact are atop the tables. Troy Perkins has been impressive all around and truly looks comfortable in his new environment. Allowing only five goals in seven matches, Perkins is maintaining the cleanest net across the league (0.71 goals against average). Perkins faces a difficult San Jose – New York road trip within half a week, which will be his toughest test in this young season.
|4. Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake (2)
RSL is clinging onto that red line in the tables, looking to establish an early position over San Jose, Vancouver and Colorado. Nick Rimando has conceded more than his team has scored, which is a far cry from last year, when he finished second best for fewest goals allowed. A closer look at his performances indicates Rimando has been kept busy by opponents (37 shots faced in 8 appearances), and he has maintained an impressive goals against average and save percentage. This alone keeps him in my Top 5.
|5. Andy Gruenebaum, Columbus Crew (Not Ranked)
Andy Gruenebaum returns to the list with a stellar 0.88 goals allowed average in his first eight appearances this season. Gruenebaum has allowed multiple goals only once this season while also claiming a pair of shutouts. Coming off an outstanding performance in a losing effort to Chicago, I can’t wait to see him continue to produce this month.
Honorable Mentions: Raul Fernandez (5), Dan Kennedy (pictured), Carlo Cudicini
It’s been a close first two months across the league, so I can’t leave off these names. If someone above slips just a hair, one of these three will certainly jump into the mix.
Keeping an eye on: Clint Irwin