By far the largest off-season loss came with the retirement of goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
Not only was he a three-time all-star, but he had long-term experience and familiarity with other key defenders such as Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez, Osvaldo Alonso, Patrick Ianni and Zach Scott. As veteran, captain and American soccer legend, he was a steadying influence for everyone on the roster.
In a similar but lesser way, defender James Riley added experience and professionalism on the right side.
For most of the preseason it was easy enough to assume those holes had been patched by goalkeeper Michael Gspurning and right back Adam Johansson. Both have solid international pedigrees, and each seemed to have inspired the confidence of the Schmid/Henderson/Hanauer triumvirate.
Then came that 6-1 mashing in Mexico, and suddenly there is plenty to worry about as the minutes count down to the first kick of MLS play. It could be noted that the most obvious defensive lapses came from veterans such as Hurtado and Gonzalez. But when a club record is set for most goals allowed in a meaningful match, the entire back end draws suspicion.
Even without a smoking-gun soft goal, it’s hard for the ball to get into the net six times without raising some questions about the goalkeeping. And perhaps the most-often-asked question of the 2012 season will be: Would Keller would have let that one in?