The contribution of a goalkeeper might be the most difficult to quantify of any individual position on the pitch. It becomes a clash of preferences, really, between the obviously athletic, spectacular shot-stoppers who catch the eye and the generals of the 18-yard box who focus on prevention rather than cure.
Both types are up for MLS’ Goalkeeper of the Year award, the third prize to be handed out as the 2016 draws to a close after Jordan Morris was named the league’s best rookie and Matt Hedges its top defender.
The men between the sticks nominated this year are:
- Tim Howard, who backstopped the Colorado Rapids’ league-leading defence
- Luis Robles, the highly experienced defensive leader of the Eastern Conference-winning New York Red Bulls
- Andre Blake, whose outstanding reflexes helped an often-shaky Philadelphia Union team make the playoffs
A few of our contributors’ picks are below - let us know what you think by voting in the poll and leaving a comment.
Andre Blake. Tim Howard was indeed impressive on a strong Colorado team, but I’m not a big fan of giving the award to someone who arrived halfway through the year. Blake certainly had the worst defence in front of him out of the three candidates (and possibly all the teams who made the playoffs) and was consistently called upon to make breathtaking saves. The young Jamaica international was finally handed the starting gig in 2016, and was integral to a Philly team that clawed its way back into the playoffs after years of watching from the sidelines.
Despite a hot start to their season, the Philadelphia Union cooled down to the point that Andre Blake receiving this award is a long shot. Despite his highlight-reel saves, he posted a 1.56 goals-against average and a 66% save percentage, the worst numbers among the three nominees.
Luis Robles should instead capture his second consecutive goalie of the year award with a stellar 1.29 GAA and 70% save percentage. The Red Bulls were yet again in contention for the Supporters’ Shield and Robles was their iron man, starting every game.
However, the award will likely be given to Tim Howard, in part for his performance and in part for the fact that an American legend has come back over the pond to play in MLS. Howard did have a very impressive 1.12 GAA and a 74% save percentage and was the penalty shootout hero against the LA Galaxy, but played only half of the Rapids’ MLS games in a system that gifts any goalkeeper the luxury of a low GAA.
Another vote for Andre Blake here. It’s difficult to figure out what is meaningful and what is noise - and the product of the team as a whole - when it comes to goalkeeper statistics, so I’m going to plump for the guy who played behind a mediocre-at-best defence and stole a fair few points. I have a feeling Toronto would have been facing the New England Revolution in the knockout round had the Union just had league-average goalkeeping rather than Blake.
Who is your MLS Goalkeeper of the Year?— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) November 17, 2016