April brings us three season debut appearances in the top five, including Clark, Robles and Cesar.We are two months into Major League Soccer regular season play, and I’m here to track goalkeeper performances all the way to the announcement of the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year award, which is given to the best keeper at the end of the season.
As league action continues to unfold, much has changed in my power rankings. Let us know where you see the goalkeepers stacking up in the comments below.
1. Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake (2)
Where to start with Nick Rimando? Week in and week out, Rimando has been there for the big save. He has snagged two Save of the Week honors just two months into league play, and was in the running for another with two spectacular late saves in Week 7. The first of the pair came in the 85th minute of play against the Timbers, as Salt Lake held a 1-0 lead. Alvas Powell snuck behind the RSL back line for a strike 8 yards out, but Rimando, while going near post, kicked away the far post delivery. Moments later, Portland’s Gaston Fernandez was denied an equalizer, as Rimando went airborne to parry away the attempt.
2. Steve Clark, Columbus Crew (N/A)
One of the things that caught my eye this month was Columbus’ ability to maintain points in close competitions. Steve Clark and the Crew sit atop the Eastern Conference standings in what has amounted to five results out of seven determined by a goal or less, including a trio of 1-1 matches in April. In the most recent of those results against New York, Clark received two nominations for Save of the Week. He stopped an Eric Alexander breakaway three minutes into play, and later he stretched to deny Thierry Henry, whose volley was well targeted toward the top corner.
3. Luis Robles, New York Red Bulls (N/A)
There hasn’t been a busier goalkeeper in the league than Luis Robles. Facing 52 shots in nine matches played, Robles maintains a solid 1.33 goals against average – and this includes five goals conceded from penalties. Standing opposite of Clark in the match I described above, Robles earned his first Save of the Week nomination when he put a fingertip to Waylon Francis’ cross-frame screamer to send it wide of the bar. In an Eastern Conference divided by a single point between five teams, including New York, Robles has been a decisive factor in keeping Red Bulls in the mix, supported by five ties and a recent 2-1 win over Philly.
4. Chris Seitz, FC Dallas (T4)
Just behind Robles in the shots faced category sits Chris Seitz, who earned back-to-back Save of the Week honors in Weeks 5 and 6. The first, a PK stop from the foot of Boniek Garcia closed out Dallas’ 4-1 rivalry week victory over Houston. The following week, Seitz blocked a dipping long-range shot from Clint Dempsey in an eventual 3-2 loss. Though Seitz isn’t among the goals against league leaders, he is consistently making saves he shouldn’t, as further evidenced by a third nominee this past week against D.C. United.
5. Julio Cesar, Toronto FC (N/A)
Having played three matches fewer than some keepers and facing significantly fewer attempts on net, Julio Cesar sneaks into the fifth spot on my list for some recent heroics. Cesar dominated voting to earn his first career MLS Save of the Week honor during Week 7, quickly reacting to punch David Texeira’s (FC Dallas) header skyward from a corner kick. With upcoming matches against New England and Vancouver, I suspect that Cesar will continue to find his current form and rise to elite status.