It was just over a year ago — Oct. 15, 2011 — Kasey Keller played his final regular-season home game for Sounders FC, with crowd of 64,140 on hand to say goodbye. He thanked them with quite a performance to remember.
Since then, Keller has started a new career as a soccer analyst, and he will be in the Sounders’ broadcast booth Sunday as the club concludes another home season against FC Dallas.
He also was at Sounders training this morning, and took the time to answer a few questions:
On his first year since ending his playing career: The year was great. Retirement didn’t feel truly like retirement until the season started up again, because it would have been my off-season anyway. (So) it probably won’t feel like a year until the season starts again the next year. But at the same time, it went by a lot faster than I thought it would. Retirement wasn’t much more than just kind of a transition into something else. I think that was part of it as well, I knew that it wasn’t just sitting around trying to figure out what the next project was going to be at the house. It was some fun and doing some things that I wasn’t allowed to do, and at the same time transitioning into the broadcasting time and learning that trade – and it’s been a lot of fun. The combination with the Sounders and ESPN has been pretty seamless, put it that way.
On if he expects broadcasting to be his new life’s work: I’m enjoying the broadcasting side, but I’m not closing any doors. If I continue to enjoy that I’ll keep doing it. But if in a future time it’s coaching or it’s office, whatever it is, I’m enjoying the next stage.
His thoughts on the Sounders this year and especially goalkeeper Michael Gspurning: It started off well, they had their blip, and they got back to playing well. It’s been relatively pretty similar. I think at different times the team looked like it had taken a little bit of a step forward. I looked at the way the team defended the other day, and it was fantastic. I think Michael came in and has done a very good job. He did what he said he was going to do: He said he would come in and be Michael Gspurning. That was, I think, the most important thing. He’s definitely assimilated extremely well. And now with Marcus (Hahnemann), it’s a good very healthy situation goalkeeping wise.
On the Sounders FC having dependable goalkeeping for all of their existence: I think it’s something that management realized early on in the expansion side of stuff. Being able to make a few saves can make a big, big difference in a game. I think the team has defended extremely well this year, and what Michael has done is make sure that there wasn’t anything easy that went in. And you saw (Wednesday vs. RSL, when he needed) to make a couple of big saves late, he was able to do it. That’s a big complement.
On if goalkeepers can be judged by statistics: Never. That’s a team thing. I think you look at it two-fold. One: How many goals is he conceding that you can sit back and say, ‘Yeah, he probably should have had that one.’ And I think that this year was few. … You can go 30 games and have a couple of goals where you say, ‘Yeah, he probably should have had that one,’ and maybe one where you go, ‘Yeah, he really should have had that one.’ But that’s awesome. It’s a tremendous feat. Then the other thing you say is, ‘How many occasions did he make some saves that helped us earn point.’ And you obviously saw a prime example of that last match, and I think that’s how you judge a goalkeeper.
On if Gspurning is a candidate for goalkeeper of the year: I think there’s definitely consideration. You see how well he’s come in. It’s hard to truly judge it by goals-against, because I don’t think that’s necessarily fair. But as I look around the league and I see who else would qualify, I think he definitely would fit in the small group of goalkeepers to be considered, definitely. I think the only thing that might hold him back is the amount of games he missed in the middle of the season with that injury. But I think if he had been healthy the whole season – maybe only missed a game or two – I think that would have been a really strong shot for it.