Crucial matches shuffle the Hall of Famer’s goalkeeper standings.For the first time since April, I have a new frontrunner in line for the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year award, which will be presented next month. Hear me out below, and join the debate in the comments section.
|1. Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake (1)
Juggling club and national team duties is not easy, but Nick Rimando has answered the call on both ends. RSL leads the west atop the standings, and Rimando looks poised to be the USMNT’s No. 3 in Brazil 2014. Getting back to his club performance this season, Rimando has captured seven Saves of the Week and is only one of three MLS keepers to maintain a sub-1.1 goals allowed average with 100+ shots faced.
|T2. Luis Robles, New York Red Bulls (5)
Though matches early in the season are scored the same in the tables as the fall schedule, end-of-season momentum makes all the difference in the playoffs, as LA Galaxy have proven the last two seasons. Luis Robles has provided RBNY outstanding leadership amongst a lot of bigger names and has been the MVP of the club in my eyes. Unbeaten since August 25, Red Bulls were the first team to make plans for November.
|T2. Jimmy Nielsen, Sporting Kansas City (3)
Sporting KC is battling with New York for the top spot in the East, and its defending third, including Jimmy Nielsen, is the reason why. Nielsen’s 0.91 goals allowed average tops the league, which must also be attributed to the Peter Vermes style of play in the back. Nielsen won the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year honor last year with 15 shutouts, and this year he shares the league high, currently touting 12 clean sheets.
|T4. Donovan Ricketts, Portland Timbers (1)
Portland lost some traction in late August by dropping consecutive matches to the two clubs currently above the Timbers in the Standings, RSL and Seattle. Despite those losses that would have resulted in Portland being top dogs in the West, Donovan Ricketts has been nothing short of outstanding this season. He leads MLS in Saves of the Week (8), equals Nielsen’s 11 shutouts and is on par with Rimando for save percentage. Portland has a chance to redeem itself in the next two weeks, as it hosts Seattle and Salt Lake so close to season’s end.
|T4. Clint Irwin, Colorado Rapids (N/A)
We’ve named some guys in goal whose teams are bracing for November action – now for a trio of guys looking to get into the mix. Clint Irwin has been the surprise of the league this season. The rookie is holding his own in the stat sheet with the guys above, including 10 clean sheets, 1.00 goals against average and he has only allowed multiple goals once in his last eight matches. Irwin’s impressive play couldn’t come at a better time, as the 2010 MLS champions are looking to return to the playoffs having missed out last season.
|T6. Zac MacMath, Philadelphia Union (N/A)
In the same conversation, Philadelphia is narrowly holding onto the fifth spot in the East, and Zac MacMath deserves much of the credit for keeping the Union in the picture. With only two goals to Philly’s name its last five matches, MacMath’s 15 saves during that span helped the Union manage 7 points during that span. Two offensive goals…7 points… I’ve mentioned clean sheets a few times already, and MacMath co-leads the category with 12. If Philadelphia can muster some offensive support, keep an eye on the Union.
|T6. Sean Johnson, Chicago Fire (N/A)
Philadelphia’s counterpart on the other side of the red line is Chicago. Only two points separate the teams in the standings, and Sean Johnson has helped the Fire join the conversation chatter. Johnson is the sixth busiest keeper in the league in terms of shots faced per appearance, and his save percentage matches that of Rimando and Ricketts. He hasn’t earned a top save honor, and he doesn’t have many clean sheets to his name, but Johnson has made the saves he needs to in order to salvage points for his side.