MLS- Chivas USA

SBI's 2009 Goalkeeper of the Year: Zach Thornton

Zach Thornton (ISIphotos.com)

    Photo by ISIphotos.com

The 2009 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award was far from an easy one to vote for, with the only clear aspect of the voting being that it should probably go to a keeper from the Western Conference.

Kasey Keller looked like he might run away with the award early in the season, but neither he or the Sounders could keep up that early pace. Los Angeles Galaxy newcomer Donovan Ricketts put together a very strong first season in MLS, playing a key role in the Galaxy's rise to the top of the West. As impressive as both those goalkeepers were, SBI's pick for 2009 MLS goalkeeper of the year is Zach Thornton.

Coming into the 2009 season there was no bigger question mark surrounding Chivas USA than the goalkeeping position, which made the team's decision not to draft Stefan Frei a puzzling one. Perhaps Preki and Co. were already aware that they have a veteran goalkeeper poised to have the type of season few could have expected.

Thornton didn't just play well, he made jaw-dropping saves on a regular basis. He kept Chivas USA in matches it would have otherwise lost with ease. Fans in Seattle won't soon forget the performances he delivered against the Sounders and opponents throughout the West had to be left wondering how Thornton spent the 2008 season on the bench with New York.

Thornton didn't just rebound in his first season as a starter since 2008, he posted arguably the best season of his career. He notched a career-best 0.87 goals-against average and a career-high 12 shutouts (leading the league in both categories), both marks considerably better than the 1.17 GAA and eight shutouts he notched on his way to winning 1998 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors. He did all that despite battling a quad injury in the second half of the season.

All that is why Thornton is SBI's choice for 2009 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.

  • Dbwinger

    Finally Zach gets the props he deserves. I have been at every Chivas game this year and without Zach Chivas woulg have lost a few close games. When you consider his age and size it is even more impressive what he has accomplished. I can see how this award could have easily went to a few other keepers but Zach has totally earned it in my eyes.


  • smokeminside

    I rarely saw Thornton play, so I was in the Ricketts camp, too (and this from a Sounders fan). Thornton must have had a great year. Good for him.


  • CT

    Thornton had a great year and is deserving, but no mention of Onstad? He too had a great year and was arguably the #2 or #3 keeper this year.


  • g-loff

    Very off topic, but espn is reporting that there is talk Phil Brown has been sacked at Hull city. Hard to tell if it is just speculation, but it made it to ESPN, so there could be some truth there.


  • ciscokid

    Big fan of Keller and as a Sounders Fan, my heart supports him, but my head saw all 3 games against Chivas and Thornton was the reason we earned only 1 point instead of 6 or 7. If he played anywhere near that well against the rest of the league, he deserves it.



    Finally, justice has been served. Last season, I was one of many in section 101 (right behind the goal) that taunted Thornton to lose weight. we didn;t get vulgar, but we disrespected our keeper. I doubt that had anything to do with his miraculous turnaround, but suffice to say we are very proud of “Deebo”.

    Eating crow doesn’t taste too bad, when Zack is now our MVP and true leader.


  • Ted in MN

    I think he earned a call up to atleast a friendly, maybe sub in. Its like tryouts 2.0 after the Gold Cup. See who can impress and find the right 11.


  • Chupacabra

    And in the ultimate twist of irony, the story was apparently first announced by a Sky Sports reporter who posted the news . . . on Twitter.


  • Colin

    Thornton had a great year, but if you look strictly at team success, Ricketts was much more important to the Galaxy’s success than Thornton was to CUSA’s.

    While the GAA is in Thornton’s favor, you also have to look at the team’s results. Galaxy essentially went from worst-to-first due to their vastly improved defense.

    Since the Galaxy’s back four consists of an aging Berhalter, Dunivant, and TWO rookies for a majority of the season (not to mention some cameos by Tony “Slow and Steady” Sanneh), you have to attribute the defensive success to Donovan Ricketts. Plain and simple.

    Ricketts will make it obvious during the first round, when he posts 2 shutouts against Chivas USA while Thornton gets lit up for 5 GA.


  • Tony in Quakleand

    Can’t argue with Thornton, but I think Ricketts held together a team that had a lot of trouble finding its feet early in the season. Without him, the Galaxy might never have gotten it together, or would have had too big a hill to climb. He gets my nod. (Although I do think Thornton has finally learned how to actually play the position rather than simply react.)


  • mattjack

    Ricketts hands down kept the G’s in games when the defense was a bit shaky.. if you take the 6 goal Dallas game out of the equation, hes got the best GAA in the league.


  • ELAC

    I have no problem with Ricketts winning this award, but he’s not the best or most consistent player on the Galaxy.

    Thornton was for the LA Goats.


  • DC Josh

    When you have an excuse after your nomination, it means they weren’t the best. Thornton had the best GAA and most shutouts, good enough for me.


  • Oog

    Thorton was a monster in front of the goal. Some of his saves were amazing this year. Definetly deserved.


  • Stan from El Barrio

    @ Union Ultra, y’all call him “Deebo” for real?! LMAO

    “That’s MY bike punk!”

    RBNY’s loss is Chivas’ gain. Thornton wanted playing time under JCO and didn’t get it so he asked to move on and the rest is history. Hopefully he’ll walk away with some hardware @ the MLS Awards Gala.


  • SeattleStan

    Thornton was ridiculous in his game against Seattle, and every other match I watched him play in I was super impressed. Rickett’s was good, but Thornton dominated games. He would be my pick hands down.


  • Sean M

    Ives if you have watched the galaxy everygame since he was added to the squad you would see he is hands down the best goalie in the league,he has saved LA probably 6-10 points with clutch saves

    (SBI-Fair enough Sean, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but to be clear, you are a Galaxy fan right?)


  • C-note

    Zach Thorton made me love the game more, he just has commanding presence, well deserved recognition.


  • advocat

    This is a complete joke to anyone who follows the MLS closely. This behemoth is easily 50 lbs overweight; and possibly 75-100lbs overweight for a professional keeper. He cant even get into proper fitness for the MLS. Portugal threw this whale back precisely because he was too heavy. You cant be a pro keeper at this weight. You cant move. You cant dive. You cant beat someone to the ball. You cant maneuver in the box at this weight. The most defensively inclined team stands in front of him. Any modestly hit shot gets thru. He really an embarassment to the league. There is much more to this story. Zach continues to hustle the league and its fans for a paycheck.


  • blag

    man, no love for young pat onstad who consistently puts in good averages every year. I do not think he was the best keeper this year, but not even a mention, all the talk goes ricketts, keller, and thorton. If I were to rank them I would have it as thorton, onstad, rickets, keller. Onstad and rickets are really tied in my opinion, but since i am houston fan, i give the nod to onstad over thorton for number 2. Both are integral in keeping their respective teams in games, bc the defense (contrary to belief) is broken down for each team in almost every game at some point. There are usually key saves that should have been goals that always occur.


  • blag

    sorry i meant i give the nod to onstad over ricketts

    so ives what is with all the hatin man? off-topic- will you be giving your predictiions for each of the mls playoff matches?

    (SBI-What hating?)


  • blag

    houston hating, not mentioning of pat onstad in the likes for top keeper of course. ok its not really hating, just leaving out. so sry about that Ives.

    (SBI-Onstad is as steady as they come, but this year I thought there were three better keepers. To be honest though, I’m not sure there’s a world of difference between Keller’s performance this year and Onstad’s.)


  • soundersfcfanboy

    Sounders and Keller fan. This was a great choice. I didn’t watch a whole lot of complete games outside of Sounders games, but Thornton owned us. I think I’d rather play LA than Chivas in round 2, assuming we take care of business with Houston.


  • Joamiq

    Thornton was the right call. Way to make it, Ives. I doubt the league will since he’s not the US hero, nor does he get LA Galaxy bonus points, but Thornton is the right call.


  • Sean M

    yes,I am a galaxy fan ives.

    (SBI-I know you are Sean, you’re one of y regulars, just pointing it out. You must admit that you’re not the most partial judge when it comes to deciding between a Galaxy goalkeeper and Chivas USA goalkeeper, right?)


  • advocat

    I only demand one thing from MLS players: that they be in top fitness. How many games did he miss this season? How many games has he missed the last 4 years? A whole bunch. I mean does dunkin’ donuts sponsor this trophy? You dont even wanna know what Chivas has to pay for Zachs meal allowance. One of my favorite MLS memories (there arent many): Ante Razov tunneling Tony “flat foot” sanneh and then tunneling zach “donut monster” Thorton for a goal. Just passs the cak Zach, just passs the cake…, just passs


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