If you read this site with any regularity, you will notice how highly I rate Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. It may be his first season in MLS as the established number one starter, but he is having a phenomenal season with the Goats. Despite having a team with a weak defense and a periodic inability to score goals, Kennedy has kept his team in many games, sometimes on his own. Thus, I've also argued that Kennedy deserves a shot with the United States National Team, perhaps not as the starter over Tim Howard, but at least getting into camps and waiting for a chance in the future. Instead, DC United keeper Bill Hamid and Real Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando have gotten calls up ahead of Kennedy. I can't argue about Rimando at all. Despite the constant knocks on his size, I think Rimando is in fact underrated. But Hamid? He's pretty good, but is he as good as Kennedy? I say no.
Read about my case for Kennedy after the jump
Games played to October 4, 2011:
Number of wins in 2011 (percentage of team's wins in 2011):
Rimando: 14 (93%)
Hamid: 7 (78%)
Kennedy: 8 (100%)
Shots faced/Saves (save percentage):
Rimando: 120/85 (71%)
Hamid: 92/61 (66%)
Kennedy: 135/97 (72%)
Goals allowed (goals allowed average):
Rimando: 32 (1.07)
Hamid: 31 (1.37)
Kennedy: 35: (1.17)
Penalty Kick Goals/Attempts:
So based on this comparison, can you tell me why Kennedy does not deserve to be selected, as least as the third string? Overall, Kennedy ranks second in most categories. Again, I don't discount Rimando, and I'm happy to see him get called-up. But I think Kennedy clearly deserves the nod right now over Hamid.
Or at least give him a shot in some friendlies during this initial phase of the Jurgen Klinsmann era for the USMNT to see how he does internationally. Additionally, for those who fear a domestic-based player may not be prepared for international action, consider that Kennedy is the only one of those three who has played abroad, as he did when he was the starting keeper for Municipal Iquique in Chile in 2007 before transferring to Chivas USA. Considering many of the U.S. National Team's opponents in the next two years will play the so-called "Latin style," his experience in Chile would prove invaluable for a World Cup qualification campaign.
But the real reason Hamid's getting selected? His age. The coaching staff is looking to the future by picking Hamid, hoping to groom him so that when Howard retires internationally, Hamid can perhaps slot right in as the automatic number one. I don't think this is a terrible idea, but I also question the wisdom to some extent. If the United States had difficulty finding quality goalkeepers, this would be a great move, since good goalkeepers are not a dime a dozen. But the exact opposite is true - the United States has many high-class goalkeepers. It is perhaps the only position of strength globally for the United States. By anointing a 20 year old as the heir apparent, it could backfire, as said heir could rest on his laurels, confident that the job is his for years to come, and other equally or more-talented keepers who emerge later may get unfairly frozen out.
And even Rimando and Kennedy are not old by goalkeeping standards. That position matures many years later than outfield players, and it is possible to play at a high level into one's early-forties. Brad Friedel was the starting goalkeeper for the USMNT at the 2002 World Cup at 31 years old. Now, at 40, he's the starting keeper for Tottenham Hotspur. Seattle Sounders starting keeper Kasey Keller (currently 41) started part of the 1998 World Cup (age 28) and the 2006 World Cup (age 36). Tim Howard looks set to start the 2014 World Cup in Brazil (assuming the U.S. qualifies, of course), when he'll be 35. No way of knowing what will happen in 2018, but Kennedy will be 36. Might be good timing...
Above all, I realize the depth at the position and the relative futility of getting worked up over the selection of the third-string national team goalkeeper. But I really think Kennedy deserves a shot. How can we convince Klinsmann and co. of his merits?
What do you think? Leave a comment below!