116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Know Your Yanks: Kasey Keller

Now we get into the meat of the roster; ten players to go, nearly all of them significant factors for the USA! Let's get to it, starting with four-time (four-time!) World Cup participant, Kasey Keller.

First-choice goalkeeper for the USA, Kasey Keller has been with the national team for just about as long as the squad has been relevant on the world scene. He broke in with the squad in 1990, and was a member of that pioneering band of Yanks at the '90 World Cup. Following the World Cup, he took his game overseas, signing with English club Millwall FC. He played with Millwall until 1996, when he moved to the Premiership, signing with newly promoted Leicester City, where he won the League Cup in 1997.
In two seasons with Leicester, Keller was named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year twice, in 1997 and 1999. One of the few members of the disastrous 1998 U.S. World Cup campaign still with the Nats, Keller tried his hand in Spain in 1999, signing with Rayo Vallecano. He moved back to the Premier League in 2001, signing with Tottenham Hotspur, where he took over the starting goalkeeper spot for the next two seasons. Keller found himself relegated to Number Two status for the USA by 2002, and sat the bench while the U.S. rode to the World Cup quarterfinals with Brad Friedel in goal, and by 2004, his status with Tottenham had also diminished. He was loaned to Southampton FC at the end of 2004, where he stayed a month before joining German Bundelsiga side Borussia Monchengladbach, where he regained his first-choice status for both club and country. In 2005, he was once again named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year.
Even at age 36, Keller remains in prime physical condition, and is able to combine smart positioning with athleticism and durability. His quality goalkeeping has saved the U.S. on multiple occasions, and although U.S. soccer commentators like to hype him beyond reasonable expectations ("He's the best goalkeeper in the world, and he lives in a castle!"), he remains an outstanding goalkeeper who is underrated everywhere other than the U.S. Keller is one of the unquestioned leaders of the squad, and excels in keeping the back four organized in front of him. Barring injury, he will play every minute of the World Cup for the U.S.

Career Highlights:

1990: Makes U.S. Men's National Team debut. Makes pro debut with Millwall FC (England, Division One).

1995: Named to Copa America Best XI.

1996: Joins Leicester City (England, Premier League) from Millwall on a $1.5 million transfer.

1997: Wins League Cup with Leicester. Named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year.

1999: Named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year.

2000: Joins Rayo Vallecano (Spain, Primera Division) from Leicester on a free transfer.

2001: Joins Tottenham Hotspur (England, Premier League) from Rayo on a free transfer.

2002: Wins Gold Cup with USA. Advances to World Cup quarterfinals with USA (does not play), before elimination against Germany.

2004: Joins Southampton FC (England, Premier League) on loan from Tottenham.

2005: Joins Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany, 1. Bundesliga) from Tottenham on a nominal transfer. Wins Gold Cup with USA. Named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year.


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