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March 18, 2012

MLS Goalie Rankings - Week 1

I was trying to think of a fun way to follow the MLS, write about it, and give some sort of ranking system (because, clearly, everyone loves rankings). I decided to track the goalies progress over the season. We'll see if I follow it through.

MLS does a pretty good job with highlights, which I'll be largely dependent on as I don't really have the time to watch twenty 90 minute games a week. The ultimate goal is to chart the goalies who do the most good. Not necessarily the best, as we can all go onto FIFA 12 to look at the ratings, but the goalie who saves their team the most.

On every play I'll award points that range from -10 (bad) to 10 (glorious). These points are really on my whim as I'll give a lot of points for covering the goal with a huge dive (but not touching the shot that goes wide) and not a lot of points for a save that is shot straight at the goalie. I'll tally them up over time. For a frame a reference:

Less than 0 - Bad
0 to 10 - Not tested or a mixed game
10 to 15 - Good game
15 and over - Great game

The Goalies

20 - Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) - Week 1 at Los Angeles - Two great minutes by Rimando in this game. In the 27' minute he covers a shot that hits the cross bar, saves a low bike, gets back up quickly to discourage Buddle from shooting, which ends the attack. (9.5 points in all) in the 87th he keeps his composure as the ball floats around the box the entire time. It amounts to a great punch by Rimando under pressure followed by a desperate kick save as he's getting back into position. Overall I think he has a tendency to over-adjust his positioning. Sometimes this works out and other times he is caught moving. I think he was a step or two away from being set and saving the goal.

18.5 - Rick Meara (New York) - Week 1 at FC Dallas - The promising keeper wants to play and FC Dallas let him have it. A great save on Perez's one-timer. Did great coming out multiple times and made Villar take a shot that the only way it would be a goal is if it was of GOTW-caliber.

11 - Matt Pickens (Colorado) - Week 1 vs. Columbus - Came up big when they needed him. The Save of the Week candidate (where he pushed the shot over the bar) wasn't as near as good as his lower 90 save in the 29th minute. Not positive on if that was going in but he covered it regardless. The push over the bar I'm fairly sure he could have caught as it wasn't that high and then proceeding cross I know he could have dealt with better.

4 - Donovan Ricketts (Montreal) - Week 1 vs. Vancouver - Looked incredibly uncomfortable in the back and, not positive on this, seems to not be having the best communication with his defense. Makes a great save in the final minutes on getting low and that kept him from getting negative points.

4 - Bill Hamid (DC United) - Week 1 vs. Sporting Kansas City - Didn't like his late reaction against Sapong's shot/cross. It's about halfway to goal then Hamid reacts and doesn't cover that much ground because of it. He handles a low shot (with a possible deflection well). His Save of the Week nominee honestly looked really, really cool but a second look warrants negative points. Hamid turns a poor shot/easy collapse save into a spectacular kick save wide because he jumps to... well I'm not sure why he jumps a foot off the ground. I'm confused why Hamid didn't at least lay out on the stoppage timed goal. Yes it was in a crowd and yes it happened quickly but that doesn't mean a well-positioned and set Hamid can't lay out for it.

3.5 - Andy Gruenebaum (Columbus) - Week 1 at Colorado - Did great to cut down the angle on Cumming's breakaway in the 20th minute. Else, he had time to collect the cross to Moor. Not an easy catch to make, admittedly, but that's one he needs to make. He definitely has the athleticism and we'll see about the Goalie IQ. Couldn't do anything on the second goal other than chew out his defense for giving him that space.

3 - Zac MacMath (PHI) - Week 1 at Portland - The sloppy first goal conceded is the first memory from the game but in all honestly Portland was outplaying them and showed it with their two more additional goals. Before the first goal, MacMath commanded the box and afterwords he made a sick save that was so good I illegally downloaded this video to show the three people who read this blog:

Not great quality but it's somewhat redeeming for his earlier mistake considering he makes a very good point blank save from a crabwalk position.

2.5 - Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City) - Week 1 at Chicago - KC's defense made this a cakewalk for the weirdest looking goalie in the MLS. Points for simple saves and correct positioning.

2.0 - Troy Perkins (POR) - Week 1 vs Philadelphia - Held down the fort.

1.5 - Jon Busch (San Jose) - Week 1 vs. New England - Rarely tested. Nothing worth writing about.

-0.5 - Tally Hall (Houston) - Week 1 at Chivas USA - Kennedy hogged the action.

-1 - Joe Cannon (Vancouver) - Week 1 at Montreal - Largely untested and when he was he managed to lumbered his best around. Yeah he gets the clean sheet against Montreal but he also could have been given a bed sheet for the nap he took back there.

-2.5 - Matt Reis (New England) - Week 1 at San Jose - A little out of position and behind the play on the goal. A couple more chances and he still looked slow on the play.

-3 - Kevin Hartman (FC Dallas) - Week 1 vs. New York - Minus 1.5 for napping on the free kick and -1.5 on the goal. Honestly it was great placement by Cooper but a needless challenge by Hartman. Cooper is either going to have to volley a ball over his shoulder at a bad angle with an oncoming defense or look to lay it off if Hartman stays.

-3.5 - Saunders (Los Angeles) - Week 1 vs. Real Salt Late - Unfortunate that all his interactions were from tight pressure. An own goal and two short range shots made it three goals. His reflex was slow on the one-on-one and he actually gets a hand on the last one but can't keep it out.

Did Not Play This Week:

Michael Gspurning (Seattle)
Milos Kocic (Toronto)

Overall Rankings
total pts - player (team) - pts/90 mins

20 - Nick Rimando (RSL) - 20
18.5 - Rick Meara (NY) - 18.5
11 - Matt Pickens (CLR) - 11
5.5 - Dan Kennedy (CHV) - 5.5
4.5 - Andy Gruenebaum (CLB) - 4.5

4 - Bill Hamid (CHC) - 4
4 - Donovan Ricketts (MON) - 4
2.5 - Zac MacMath (PHI) - 2.5
2.5 - Troy Perkins (POR) - 2.5
1.5 - Jimmy Nielsen (SKC) - 1.5

1.5 - Jon Busch (SJ) - 1.5
0 - Michael Gspurning (SEA) - 0
0 - Milos Kocic (TOR) - 0
-0.5 - Tally Hall (HOU) - (-0.5)
-1 - Joe Cannon (VAN) - (-1)
-2.5 - Matt Reis (NE) - (-2.5)

-3 - Kevin Hartman (FCD) - (-3)
-3.5 - Josh Saunders (LA) - (-3.5)

And lastly, the top three worst hairstyles in the MLS:

3. Steven Lenhart. Maybe it's just a joke. Hopefully it's just a joke.

2. Andrew Jacobson. I was going to put a picture up of it but his bleached hair will blind you similar to staring into a lighthouse momentarily. Here's a video of him in action. If you're willing to bare the close up of a man who looks like he stuck his head into a recently used toilet you may skip ahead to 3:10.

1. Sebastian Velasquez. Watch him ecstatically celebrate his goa-err... his created own goal. I imagine after Beckerman his hair has just become another goat in the flock.

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