At the top of the Sounders off-season shopping list is coming up with a quality veteran goalkeeper to replace the retiring Kasey Keller.
In a postseason interview, coach Sigi Schmid pointed out that what he values specific qualities in a goalkeeper ... and thinks the club is closing in on one who fills the bill.
Here's Schmid on what he looks for in a keeper:
A lot of goalkeeper coaches and goalkeeping camps, sometimes its form over substance. It’s 'do you look good making the dive?' rather than 'did you stop the ball?' The object of the position is still to stop the freakin’ ball. Make sure the ball doesn’t go beyond you.
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Just like a field player: You’re not going to change somebody’s running style, and you’re not going to change dramatically somebody’s approach to stopping shots. So what you’re trying to do, you’re trying to make little corrections to make them better without changing their basic style. I think a lot of goalkeeping coaches and goalkeeping schools out there just try to change a guy’s style: ‘This is the way it should be. And if the shot’s here then you have to come over this way.’ …
Young goalkeepers when they come to us all do the same: When a guy is ready to shoot, it’s like one-two-hop, and they spread their feet, or the put their feet out wide, and then they get their feet wider than their shoulder width and then they can’t push, they fall over. I’m a big believer that your feet have to be at shoulder width or inside your shoulder width so you can get that little step that gives you that drive. And (Sounders goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra) believes in the same thing.
So that philosophy is definitely different: the philosophy of being clean on your saves. Sometimes a lot of it is pressure training: save right, left, right, left – so they make seven saves, but none of them are clean. Again, there’s pressure training that you need to do, but the training is that save’s not done until it’s done, and then we’ll go into the next save. And a lot of goalkeeping coaches out there it’s “OK, just parry that over there and let’s get ready for the next one.’ Well, OK, you just left that thing 3 feet from you, the guy’s going to put the rebound in. And Tommy’s the same: It’s like OK you parry it there and it’s 3 feet away, you’d better pounce on it and finish that save before I give you the next ball. …
The other things are presence and control of your box. There’s a big emphasis, too, on being connected to your back four.
On whether he will find such a keeper:
We started the search, honed it down to a few guys – three or four. … I think we’re close. I don’t know when we’re able to announce.