The blog post below shows images of goalkeeper Kasey Keller through the years. It appears in advance of a story that will run in our Wednesday paper and The News Tribune website on Keller, whose amazing playing career took him around the world, yet began in Thurston County and will end sometime next month just up I-5 as a Seattle Sounder.
While interviewing, I got far more quotes from and about Keller than I could fit into the story. So I’ll share some of those here now:
“Kasey Keller is one of the most accomplished players in U.S. Soccer history. Having seen him play since 1985, we witnessed Kasey become a pioneer for U.S. players by having the courage to embark on a career overseas and the skill and determination to be successful for so many years in the top leagues in Europe and at the international level. In representing the United States, he turned in some of the most memorable performances ever by any player. Kasey’s achievements speak for themselves, and he should be extraordinarily proud of a tremendous career and a lasting legacy.” — U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati
“Seeing Keller back there and how he commands things gives me a better understanding of the game.” – Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson
“Being one of the hardest-working guys on the field at 41 years of age is unbelievable.” – Sounders defender James Riley on playing with Keller
“He yells at us and screams at us, but we want nobody else behind us, because when the game asks for that one or two saves to keep us in it, he’s come up huge on so many occasions.” – Sounders midfielder Brad Evans on Keller’s on-field leadership
“I think the majority is definitely encouragement. There’s going to be the odd hammer blow as well.” – Keller, on his leadership style on the pitch
“There’s a couple. The first game, and knowing that coming home and being a part of this was the right choice. That was the moment I think, coming home after the first game, that said, ‘All right: This was justified, this is the right choice, this is really cool to be a part of.’ And then these two (U.S. Open) Cup wins. The first one was great. But then to be able to back that up with two big home wins was extremely cool.” – Keller on his favorite memories as a Sounder
“I played for the under-16s, somewhere on like Long Island in New York or something like that. It was one of the first games I remember playing at where there were a few thousand people watching the game. And I remember making a save, and the first time I’ve actually heard like big applause. … I remember I had the ball in my hand looking around thinking, ‘Whoa, I haven’t heard that before.’” – Keller on a soccer memory from his early days
“When I was a sophomore in high school I played for the under-18s instead of the under-16s. And so a lot of schools thought that I was a senior and not a sophomore, so I was getting lots and lots of scholarship offers as a sophomore. And actually there was a point when my mom had to call a couple of very big schools and say, ‘You do understand that my son is a sophomore?’” – Keller memory from Thurston High School
“It’s amazing now that I look back and think that I was a part of this whole rise of the sport.” – Keller on his career paralleling the growth of soccer in the United States
“It was funny. I know my wife at different times was like, ‘Let’s kind of not keep talking about the farm.’ And we were just laughing. I’m proud of the fact.” – Keller on growing up on a working egg farm
“Cool experience? No question about it. … But there were definitely some issues with it. It was like owning a boat: It was great the day you bought it and great the day you sold it.” – Keller, on living in a German castle built in 860
“So many fold I don’t even know what the count is.” – Keller, when asked if his time with the Sounders has exceeded his expectations
“He’s going out the way I think players want to go out, where they’re not having to second-guess and say, ‘Oh, could he have gotten that last year?’ ‘Yeah, maybe two years ago he would have gotten that.’ He’s still getting to things.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid on the timing of Keller’s retirement
“We’d like to put him out by winning the playoffs. I think he deserves that. That would be a great honor for our team to be able to give that to him as a present. I think that’s the greatest present we could give him.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, on how he hopes Keller’s career ends
“That would be pretty cool. I’m cool with that. Put the MLS Cup alongside the three Open Cups. I’m cool with that,” Keller on the possibility of ending his career with a championship.
Even this represents only a fraction of the quotes and topics on the subject. I’ll roll out several of the others over the coming days.