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Who is your MLS Goalkeeper of the Year?

Pat Onstad ( 
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With the Major League Soccer season drawing to a close, it is time to start thinking about MLS season awards.

Voting for the league's major player awards will end on Monday, just a day after the final match of the season, meaning we at SBI will take this week to give readers a chance to select their choices for the league's eight top player awards.

We will start with MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Seattle's Kasey Keller was the front-runner early on, but the race is wide-open heading down the stretch. Los Angeles' Donovan Ricketts has enjoyed a strong season throughout, while Chivas USA's Zach Thornton has turned back the clock to put together one of the best seasons of his career. Houston's Pat Onstad has posted yet another quality campaign, while reigning 2008 MLS goalkeeper of the year Jon Busch has been solid though not as impressive as last season.

It is your turn to vote. Which goalkeeper do you think is the 2009 MLS goalkeeper of the year? (The SBI selections for all MLS awards will be revealed next week).

Who did you vote for? Was there a goalkeeper who didn't make our list who should have? Still can't decide on who you think should win?

Share your thoughts on the 2009 MLS goalkeeper of the year below.


  1. Here is what Thorton should do: retire with some self respect instead of hustling the MLS fans and the league. Give an opportunity to the multitude of young American keepers that need a chance to take the league to a higher level. Thorton cant even get in shape. I mean he is at least 250lbs. Honestly, is there one other keeper in any league anywhere in the world with a 250lb keeper? I assure you it doesnt exist.

  2. What kind of drugs are you on man? How can such a pitiful figure lead the league in GAA? How can he have such a high save %? I don’t know what your problem with Thornton is, but give the man some respect for what he has accomplished.

  3. Ricketts!

    He has been massive for the Gals. I wanted t vote for Zach but either of the LA homies would rep well!

  4. I’ve always wondered why the most commonly sited goalkeeper stat is GAA which is really the combined effect of the defense and goalkeeping. If you want to go just by stats, save percentage is a much better indicator in my opinion. For the current top 5 goalkeepers listed on their save percentage is:
    Thornton 77%
    Keller 72%
    Onstad 74%
    Hesmer 79%
    Reis 81%

  5. AGREED! Onstad is the most consistantkeeper in the league, as well as the most underrated. Just because he makes it look easy…doesn’t mean it is.

  6. I must agree with you, even though I am a biased Houston fan.. Onstad comes up strong again and again and to play so well at 41 is outstanding.. He definetly is a Leading candidate and I think he deserves Goalie of the Year.

  7. I just use the stats available on plus a little bit of simple math to get some additional %s they don’t bother to list.

    No doubt Sala >>> Burse in terms of shotstopping as well as leading a defense. And Sala also has a knack for acrobatic looking plays — didn’t he win some sort of international GK skills contest in Mexico last year?

    Also true that FCD’s defense (and overall play) has clearly improved in the last third of the season, but Sala’s return was hardly the only change to point to. Like LAG, FCD has had a ton of turnover.

    Wagner – Davino – Moor – Serioux

    Benitez – John/Richetti – Ihemelu – Pearce

    Also FCD has made a lot of in-season moves: Benitez, Ihemelu, Pearce along with Hernandez, Chavez, and Harris all come to mind. And they got some strong play from Cunningham, Van den Bergh, Ferreira, and McCarty. So, lots of possible places to give credit for improvement — not due simply solely to Sala.

  8. LAG have had a ton of personnel turnover form last year, especially in the d-mid and backline spots. Not sure how much credit goes to Ricketts and how much is down to the defense overall.


    Randolph — Vanney — Franklin — Klein




    Dunivant — Gonzales — Berhalter — DeLaGarza/Franklin


  9. You’re right, his numbers aren’t the best (actually surprising since i hadn’t seen them ranked like that before), but if you look at the numbers when he was injured, and after, I think you will see what he brought to the team. A calming presence that kept the team in games. He also is almost always up for a SOW award, no matter how meaningless that award is.

    I just wander what FCD could have done if he was there at the start of the season. Burse wasn’t great and was at fault for a few goals.

  10. Most important keeper to his club: Ricketts.
    Biggest keeper surprise: Thorton.
    Best emerging keeper: Frei
    Most talented keeper: probably Keller.
    Best MLS goalkeepr in 2009: Onstad.

    That’s right, I said Onstad, Mr. Consistency. Mr. “Right Place, Right Time, I Make Keeper Looks So Easy at 40+” Onstad.

  11. I like Sala, but in addition to missing a ton of time his numbers weren’t great (FCD defense partly to blame):

    13 Games Played
    1.47 GAA (14th of 18)
    30.77% shutout/game (9th)
    67.27 save percentage (15th)
    4.23 shots faced/game (11th)

  12. Thorton is a disgrace to the MLS. INjured half the time. he is the most overweight keeper I have ever seen. slower than molasses. saw DeRo chip him from 55 yards once. The ball was in the air for several hours while FatBoy was slipping and sliding his way into the side netting. it was absolutely hilarious! i dont think he played for a year afterwards. But FatBoys best trick is throwing hmself on the ground about an hour after the ball has been in the net. This guy has a job only because of connections and kickbacks.

  13. Using MLS Stats for Min 900 Min Played (that = 18 GKs):

    A. Shots Faced Per Game

    1. Cepero – 6.38
    2. Reis – 5.87
    3. Wicks – 5.47

    12. Thornton – 3.96
    13. Onstad – 3.90
    14. Rimando – 3.88
    15. Keller – 3.61
    16. Gruenebaum – 3.30
    17. Pickens – 3.21
    18. Burpo – 3.20

    Save %

    1. Reis – 82.96
    2. Thornton – 80.81
    3. Hesmer – 79.07
    4. Onstad – 76.11
    5. Ricketts – 75.47
    6. Keller – 75.25

  14. Improvement does not equal impact. LA has had the most improvement because last year their goalkeeping was prolifically bad…but if we are looking at improvement, Keller has no shot because the Sounders weren’t even in the MLS. The goalkeeper of the year award should be based on impact, and I dare say that the goalkeeper that saved the highest percentage of shots faced while keeping his team tied for the league lead in least goals allowed made the biggest impact.

    Furthermore, the award is based on the entire season, and not just at the end. “Clutch” play begins at the beginning of season. Three points early on is equal to three points late on.

  15. Kasey Keller is going to win this. Even if he had the worst season of all time they’d give it to Keller. It’s how MLS works.

    Just like the Galaxy are allowed unlimited DP contracts.

  16. close between keller and rickets but I got to give it to keller because I don’t think seattle makes the playoffs without his solid play and leadership.

  17. I gotta vote based on impact, because their statistics and highlights are all so awesome. Based on impact, Ricketts is the unquestioned leader.

    Keller led a quick charge from the start of the season, but he and the team fizzled later on. Thornton and Chivas started off even stronger and faded even worse. Busch and Onstad weren’t even as good as they have been in the past.

    LA has so many reasons that they’re better this year: Gonzalez and DeLaGarza’s surprising quality, Beckham’s improved form, Donovan’s unbelievable play, etc. But all of that would be for naught if they had the same shaky goalkeeping that crippled them last season.

  18. I’m with strider. Thornton clearly deserves this award. (I’m also not a Chivas fan, and I’d love for Keller to deserve it…but I really don’t think he does).

  19. Why no love for Thornton? He has the best GAA, has the most wins (12 to tie Onstad) in less games than Onstad or Keller, and a great save %. OK, he’s a big guy, but the reality is either he is doing a great job or he has the league’s best defense in front of him (or both)! And I’m not a Chivas fan.

  20. Clearly a two-horse race between Ricketts and Keller. Ricketts has saved the Galaxy all year long and Keller has taken a first-year team to the playoffs with stellar play. Still, for me, Ricketts has had the better year. I would like to see the Galaxy win it all this year.

  21. As a Seattle fan I voted for Keller. He’s captained one of the stingiest defense in the MLS on the most successful expansion franchise in the last ten years. He has consistently made amazing saves while leading his team to the U.S open cup victory. He’s also been incredibly durable playing more minutes to date than any of the other candidates.

  22. Who is the most over-weight keeper in MLS history? Well, its ol’ molasses himself: Zach “pass the cake” Thorton. Only player slower in MLS history is one T. sanneh.

  23. Ricketts was so clutch for the Galaxy, when people had lost all faith in their defense. He wins in my opinion, but Keller is a close second.

  24. Had to go with Keller. I don’t know if I appreciated him as I should have when he was with the Nats. I was honestly surprised to see him play as well as he did with his down time before MLS started.

    Ricketts did have a great year, especially down the stretch. Either one of those two deserve it I would think.

  25. As a Galaxy fan, of course I voted for Ricketts – he’s had a great year and (with the exception of that game against Dallas that I’d like to just forget about) he’s consistently had good showings and come up with incredible clutch saves. He’s quick and has a great eye, and a lot of the time he makes it look pretty damn easy 🙂

    The Galaxy have been amazing this year compared to last, and he’s a big part of that.


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