All evidence indicates it’s not easy for professional athletes to retire gracefully and somewhere near the top of their game.
Griffey sure didn’t do it. Nor Ali. Nor Unitas. Nor Mays. And let’s not even get started on Brett Favre.
Kasey Keller seems to have done it — maybe better than anyone since Secretariat. (Or, OK, maybe Barry Sanders.) The goalkeeper from Olympia picked a season and stuck with it. And now that it’s over, the postseason honors are piling up: MLS Best XI, MLS goalkeeper of the year, and today: save of the year.
And like Secretariat — who is remembered for that amazing Belmont stretch run, even though it wasn’t his final race — this award-winning goal sequence will be the way most Sounders fans remember Keller, even though it wasn’t his final game.
Here’s the club release on the latest honor:
Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller was awarded the 2011 MLS Save of the Year for his four-save flurry in a 10-second span against the San Jose Earthquakes on October 15.
To watch Kasey Keller’s 2011 Save of the Year CLICK HERE.
With Sounders FC already trailing by one goal in the 64th minute, Keller made a series of saves, scrambling to block four consecutive attempts by the Earthquakes – including two from Chris Wondolowski, the top goal scorer in MLS the past two seasons – to keep his team in the game.
“Having it be my last home game ever and being 1-nil down, it was great to come up with a series of saves and keep us in it,” said Keller. “Twenty minutes later we score two goals and go in front. So with the huge crowd and coming back to win the game it couldn’t have worked out better.”
Inspired by Keller and the crowd’s deafening support, Sounders FC rallied to score twice and win the game.
The 41 year-old goalkeeper was playing in his final regular season home game in Seattle, and 64,140 Sounders fans were in attendance to honor his legendary career.
Keller has already earned plenty of recognition for his final season, winning Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, and being named to the 2011 MLS Best XI, and 2011 MLS All-Star XI. This is the second consecutive year that Keller was awarded the MLS Save of the Year.
The 2011 Save of the Year was determined by an online fan vote, after 32 nominees – each a Save of the Week winner – were eventually narrowed to four finalists. The final poll results for the four finalists:
Kasey Keller, Seattle Sounders FC (vs. SJ) – 41 percent
Troy Perkins, Portland Timbers (vs. CHI) – 32 percent
Troy Perkins, Portland Timbers (vs. SEA) – 14 percent
Teemu Tainio, New York Red Bulls (vs. POR) – 12 percent
Keller began his professional career in 1992 with Millwall (England) and he played for to Leicester City (England), Rayo Vallecano (Spain), Tottenham Hotspur (England), Borussia Mönchengladbach (Germany), Fulham (England) before joining the MLS club in his home state in 2009. Among goalkeepers, he is the U.S. Men’s National Team’s all-time leader in appearances (102).
MLS Save of the Year Winners
2011: Kasey Keller – Seattle Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes – October 15, 2011
2010: Kasey Keller – Seattle Sounders FC vs. Kansas City Wizards – April 17, 2010
2009: Pat Onstad – Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids – April 20, 2009