We are at the midpoint of Major League Soccer action, and I’m here to rank contenders for the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year award at the end of the season. Readers are encouraged to sound off in the comments below with your picks.
Securing six Save of the Week honors in 19 weeks of play, Donovan Ricketts has been consistently clutch to start the season. Beyond style points, in such a close battle out West for playoff contention, each of those saves have impacted the tables. At this point, Ricketts also co-leads the league in shutouts (eight), briefly overtaking Jimmy Nielsen in the category. Prior to the MLS All-Star weekend, the Timbers face the Galaxy, Union and Earthquakes.
Nick Rimando has six shutouts, a pair of penalty saves, five Save of the Week honors, leads the league in goals against average and most importantly, he tops the league in wins. Currently on duty for the United States at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Salt Lake is hanging on strong at the top spot in the West. Expect Rimando to maintain his status as an Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year contender through the end of the season, as he’s a proven veteran on a strong team.
Selected as this year’s MLS Fan XI goalkeeper, Raul Fernandez recently put together one of the top performances between the sticks in a 1-0 defeat against Portland. In the match, Fernandez made seven saves, including three that surely should have been conceded by a lesser 'keeper. The Peruvian international has been one of the busiest goalkeepers in the league this season, facing more than double the amount of shots as Jimmy Nielsen per competition. Against the odds, Fernandez has secured six clean sheets, which ranks among the top in MLS.
Second in wins, I always look to reward goalkeepers who can help their teams remain on top of the table, and Montreal hasn’t budged this season. Six of the Impact’s nine wins have been decided by a goal, and Troy Perkins has done a fine job to close out games, making the saves he should. Having gone winless in its last three competitions, it only gets tougher for the Impact, who face New York, Dallas and Kansas City prior to MLS All-Star weekend.
Despite Jimmy Nielsen no longer owning the outright lead for the shutout category as he had most of the year, he remains one of only three goalkeepers who averages fewer than one goal per match. Nielsen and KC are set to face some of the league’s other top goalkeepers in the coming weeks, so every save will be critical. Sporting KC take on Salt Lake and Montreal to round out the month.
Heading into July, it looked hopeful that Luis Robles would secure the fan vote for the MLS All-Star Game. Though Fernandez ultimately earned the fan’s nod, Robles has been impressive for the Red Bulls in his first full season in MLS, playing every minute of every regular season competition for New York. Robles has six clean sheets on the campaign and recently earned his second Save of the Week honor.