BY DAVE MARTINEZ
Few MLS goalkeepers boast the reputation and accomplishments of Kevin Hartman, holder of most of the major goalkeepers in MLS history, and the Red Bulls are looking to exploit that experience to the fullest.
The Red Bulls officially added “El Gato” Hartman to their roster with an interesting wrinkle; he will also serve as the team’s Goalkeeper Development Manager tasked to work with the team’s young keeping core and it’s development academy.
“We would like to welcome Kevin to the Red Bulls,” said Red Bulls General Manager Andy Roxburgh. “As one of MLS’ most successful goalkeepers of all time, Kevin brings a wealth of playing experience and the knowledge of what it takes to be successful at the highest level. That’s why we are delighted that Kevin will pass on that knowledge to our next generation of goalkeepers in the role of Goalkeeping Development Manager, while also giving us another quality goalkeeping option as part of our first team roster.”
Few resumes read as brightly as the 38-year-old Hartman’s does. He is a two-time MLS Cup winner, a two-time US Open Cup winner, two-time Supporters Shield winner and a four time Western Conference Champion. His individual accolades are also unmatched. Hartman has appeared in over 400 MLS matches; more than any other player in league history. Over the course of 15 years in the league, he amassed 416 regular season appearances, 37,260 minutes played and a career record of 180-143-89. He is Major League Soccer’s career leader in saves (1,453), victories (179) and clean sheets (111) as well.
Most recently, Hartman, who turns 39 in May, started 30 matches for FC Dallas last season, earning six shutouts. Dallas decided not to renew their option with Hartman, who went unselected through both rounds of the re-entry draft this past December.
Interestingly enough, New York has a three keeper stable at the moment. Luis Robles has done an adequate job as the team’s starter, but allowed five goals through their first three matches. Due to Ryan Meara’s double hip surgery, their next viable option is 18 year old Santiago Castano; an unproven academy product. Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke put a timeline for Meara’s return around April but the Fordham product has only just begun to participate in training sessions again.
Whether Hartman’s addition is an indicator of Meara’s progress or the team’s lack of faith on the backline is certainly up for discussion. What they do gain, however, is a steady presence between the sticks that can help nurture their young core in the league’s demanding environment.