Kasey Keller isn’t the most talented or athletic goalkeeper the United States has ever produced. Nor has he been the best at any particular moment in time. But consistency and commitment are important and few if any American bred keepers can claim Keller’s consistency over time and his battle scars. Unlike Brad Friedel and Tim Howard, Keller hasn’t been sought by top international clubs, and unlike those two, his commitment to his national team and his country always came before club.
For Fulham a club totally bereft of the sort of talent needed to avoid the relegation drop in the English Premier League (I have picked Fulham for the drop each of the past two seasons; last year I missed by a point, this year it appears I will be correct as of this writing) I can think of no better keeper on the planet than Kasey Keller. Why? Keller has the tag of a journeyman keeper but he has been on clubs before like the current Fulham one, which need his leadership and his shot stopping ability to stay afloat. Keller has fought relegation or mid table mediocrity with Milwall, Leicester City, Rayo Vallecano, Southampton, Borusia Gladbach and now with Fulham. Only when Keller was with Spurs was he on a club that was expected to compete for top honors (although ironically Leicester City and Rayo Vallecano both had better runs than Spurs when he was on those squads), but he’s become sort of a go to guy for any survival threatened club in Europe who wants a reliable keeper whose leadership is unquestioned and his influence in locker room is positive.
Despite having played in Europe now for sixteen years, far longer than Brad Friedel or Tim Howard, Keller remains the most “American” top keeper in our player pool. Keller easily mixes well with young American starlets whether they hail from MLS or European clubs and will never refuse a call up from his country. It is precisely this commitment to the US National Team that has gotten Keller in trouble at times at his clubs. But wih crucial qualifiers coming down the pike for the United States, do our fans really feel more comfortable with an untested Brad Guzan or an error prone Tim Howard over Kasey Keller, whose ability to organize his back line and wall during set pieces is unquestioned? This is a question Bob Bradley must be asked and ultimately answer. My thinking is Keller has to be called in this summer for the qualifiers. Kasey Keller has been part of every successful United States qualifying effort in its history. With Keller once again getting regular football at Fulham, and showing once again his shot stopping prowess, from my vantage point the choice is a no-brainer.
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