Photo by Michael Burns/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
The impending arrival of Julio Cesar will give Toronto FC a well-known player who could be representing Brazil at the World Cup this summer.
It also means that MLS will have another talented player at a position it is really, really deep at.
There is no denying that goalkeeper is one of the strongest positions in MLS and that will only be further fortified with the addition of Julio Cesar, the Brazilian goalkeeper who is in contention to start for the Seleccao at this summer’s much-anticipated World Cup. He is a grizzled veteran and one that has experience playing in the Premiership, Serie A and on the international stage.
Where the 34-year-old Julio Cesar stacks up against the current crop of MLS goalkeepers is a question that some observers will surely ask given his pedigree and recent struggles to earn playing time at the club level, so SBI is taking stock of the best players currently at the position to help provide an answer.
Here are SBI’s Top 10 goalkeepers in MLS right now:
1. NICK RIMANDO
As sturdy a goalkeeper as there is in MLS, Rimando continues to excel with Real Salt Lake and has shown no signs of slowing down. He can make highlight reel stops, commands his area well, is very technical and is probably the best distributor in the league.
2. JULIO CESAR
With 77 caps with Brazil to his name and having played for clubs like Inter Milan and Queens Park Rangers, Julio Cesar might have the best resume among MLS netminders. The veteran, however, has not played in some time and there are questions as to how much of his form he can regain with Toronto FC.
3. DONOVAN RICKETTS
The Jamaican international has made steady progress in his game in recent years. Not only can Ricketts make eye-opening saves that few can even dream of getting to, but he has also become a much better organizer at the back for the Portland Timbers.
4. DAN KENNEDY
It’s easy to overlook Kennedy given that he plays for struggling Chivas USA, but without him the club would be even worse for wear. Kennedy is one of the best goalkeepers in MLS, but he routinely gives up goals because the team in front of him just is not very good.
5. RAUL FERNANDEZ
A rocky start evolved into a strong first season in MLS for Fernandez. The Peruvian international made stunning saves and cut out much of the bizarre play that marred his game during the early parts of FC Dallas’ 2013 campaign.
6. TALLY HALL
An unspectacular but steady presence between the pipes, Hall remains an important part of a Houston Dynamo team that continues to make noise in the playoffs. Not as flashy as some others on this list, but still a well-round goalkeeper who has stayed on the fringes of the U.S. Men’s National Team in recent years.
7. CLINT IRWIN
Irwin is mature beyond his years both on and off the field, so it is hard to imagine that he was playing in USL Pro prior to the 2013 season. He helped guide the Colorado Rapids to a place in the postseason last year with his solid play and did so despite assimilating to the style of MLS and his new teammates.
8. JAIME PENEDO
Capable of making flashy stops, Penedo is both solid and experienced. He demonstrated his skill with the LA Galaxy last season and a full campaign with him in goal should only help the club as they attempt to get back to the MLS Cup.
9. LUIS ROBLES
After an error-plagued first half of the season, Robles bounced back in a big way in 2013. He came up big when his number was called and continued to come through in the clutch in penalty-kick situations, helping the New York Red Bulls pick up their first Supporters’ Shield.
10. SEAN JOHNSON
Johnson has continued to hone his game and is only looking better and better with the Chicago Fire. He is as promising a young goalkeeper as there is in MLS and he should only climb in these standings in the coming years.
(Since it was inevitable that some people would ask me for my Top 10, here are my Top 10 MLS goalkeepers heading into the 2014 season- Ives Galarcep)
1. Nick Rimando
2. Julio Cesar
3. Donovan Ricketts
4. Jaime Penedo
5. Tally Hall
6. Clint Irwin
7. Dan Kennedy
8. Raul Fernandez
9. Luis Robles
10. Sean Johnson
What do you think of these rankings? Is there someone who is on there that shouldn’t be? Would you include anyone else?
Share your thoughts below.