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MLS Season Preview: Ranking the top 10 goalkeepers

Mar 4, 2014, 9:09 AM EDT

The countdown to the 2014 Major League Soccer season is ticking away and very shortly MLS will be back with a bang, as a spectacular season awaits.

We’ve been rolling out season previews of every team at PST and now it’s time to focus on each position and share who we think are the top 10 players.


Let’s take a look at the best men between the sticks as our season preview continues with the Top Ten goalkeepers in MLS.

source: Getty Images


1. Nick Rimando – Real Salt Lake

It was difficult to separate the top half of this list, but it’s difficult to make a list of the league’s best keepers without putting Rimando at No. 1. When it comes to finishing a game strong and being where he needs to be, Rimando passes the smell test. His advanced stats also show a pretty telling figure, as he’s considered the top keeper for an attack according to Squawka. If I’m starting a team for this season only and need a no-doubt keeper, it’s Rimando.

2. Julio Cesar – Toronto FC

Yes, he’ll have to adapt to a new league and no, it’s not like goalkeeping was a problem for TFC last year, but Cesar’s resume speaks for itself. The Brazil goalkeeper may have fought for playing time this year behind former English international Robert Green, but how many keepers in this league have finished Top 25 in Ballon d’Or voting in their career? Now that’s loaded — I realize MLS players aren’t going to get votes there — but Cesar has five Serie A title, two Confederation Cups and a UEFA Champions League title this is okay.

3. Donovan Ricketts – Portland

Ricketts has a knack for the outlandish “How did he do that?” save, and I’m not sure a week has gone by where he wasn’t at least in the discussion for the Save of the Week award. The numbers say he’s very, very good.

4. Troy Perkins – Montreal

This will require a lengthy diatribe, because I continue to read lists of top MLS goalkeepers that don’t include the 32-year-old Ohio native, which is baffling. Montreal hemorrhaged shots on net in 2014, and advanced stats say Perkins was very good on a team that didn’t defend well. In fact, Perkins posted the highest Squawka score in MLS last season, with only one negative performance in the bunch to drag him down.

He had the top defensive score and best possession score of all MLS keepers in 2013. Advanced stats aren’t everything, so he’ll sit fourth… but perhaps it’s his location in Quebec that’s keeping him out of the discussion.

5. Clint Irwin – Colorado

Ten clean sheets last season, and will be counted on to provide stability as Colorado transitions from Oscar Pareja following the coach’s departure for Dallas.

6. Tally Hall – Houston

Athletic and strong in defense, Hall is just that little bit away from being atop this list. The knock on Hall is consistency, as he’ll post just as many negative performances as positive… though the highs aren’t so high and lows aren’t howlers.

7. Luis Robles – New York

Robles probably deserves more consideration for a higher spot on this list considering his resurgence from real woes early in his season. He’s a shot-stopper who sees the field well and can benefit the attack.

8. Jaime Penedo – Los Angeles

source: Getty Images


Impossible to ignore how he put the Galaxy on his back at times last season, but one season does not a career make and I’m wary to put him high on the list.

9. Raul Fernandez – Dallas

The Peruvian has plenty left to prove, but should benefit from the arrival of Pareja as his head coach. Plenty to like about Fernandez.

10. Jon Busch – San Jose

He’s a feast or famine keeper who is capable of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but gets the nod over Chivas’ Dan Kennedy, Philadelphia’s Zac MacMath, New England’s Bobby Shuttleworth and others.

More: The Top Ten rookies in Major League Soccer

  1. rafibomb10 - Mar 4, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    He is not on your list, nor should he be, because of his inconsistency, but Mr. Mendola I’m interested to know your thoughts of a guy like Bill Hamid. Athletically and future potential he belongs in the top 5. If only he had a back line that was somewhat adequate, and could replicate his ridiculous saves with the more routine he would be incredible. He also looks like he belongs in the NFL…

    • Nicholas Mendola - Mar 4, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      I’d put it nearly the same way you do, as I like Hamid a great deal but need to see consistency in addition to his almost absurd keeper athleticism. Would love to see him make a big jump in 2014 and you’re right: his team could help.

  2. soccherblog - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    why is there a picture of Penedo when he is not on you list? seem odd

    • Nicholas Mendola - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      The “8. Jaime Penedo” line disappeared for some reason. Good catch.

  3. soccherblog - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    OK now it is up…thanks for clearing it up

  4. mikeevergreen - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    I think there should be a second name along with Perkins, Sean Johnson, and for the same exact reason. Montreal didn’t defend very well last year, and neither did Chicago. Hopefully both have corrected that situation.

  5. heelfans - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    The absence of Sean Johnson definitely needs an explanation. Obviously Klinsmann would be curious too.

    • chesschum - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:03 PM

      I totally agree. I doubt there are many experts who would not only leave Johnson out of the top 10 but also fail to rate him above guys like McMath and Shuttlesworth. In Chicago it’s assumed he’ll beat out Rimando for the number 3 position with the World Cup squad. I personally think Rimando is better, but Johnson is awfully good, the Fire’s defensive problems in 2013 notwithstanding. And he’ll likely be headed for a top league in Europe this summer, which is probably more than can be said for any of the guys listed ahead of him.

  6. Brian Howe Battle - Mar 5, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    USMNT Goalie call-ups in 2013:

    Nick Rimando (#1 on this list)
    Tally Hall (#6 on this list)
    Sean Johnson (NOT on this list)
    Bill Hamid (NOT on this list)

    What factors were used to make this Top Ten?

    • Nicholas Mendola - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      Because there are other countries in the world? If your sole guide is international duty and not MLS play or stats…

      Cesar – Brazil starter (#2 on this list)
      Ricketts – Jamaica 99 caps (#3 on this list)
      Penedo – Panama 91 caps (#8 on this list)
      Fernandez – Peru 27 caps (#9 on this list)

      So that leaves Perkins (7 caps) and Robles (1 cap) as players who’ve seen time but are in the same age group where they’re in a log jam behind Howard, Guzan and Rimando.

      Irwin has never been capped and Busch not since 2005, but those are in slots 5 & 10. There are arguments to be made for Hamid and Johnson but they are largely potential based arguments (which is why they made USMNT camp, to be sure). They need to develop.

      • Brian Howe Battle - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:05 AM

        Makes sense. Thanks for the response.

      • Nicholas Mendola - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        Thanks, Brian. Hope I didn’t come off too smarmy. Just wanted you to know I put some thought into it…

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