U.S. MNT goalkeeper Kasey Keller had a special week at the start of June, earning back-to-back ussoccer.com Man of the Match honors in two standout performances that entrenched his spot as the USA’s first choice goalkeeper.
Keller made six saves against Costa Rica on June 4 at Ricce-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, all in the second half, and three crucial saves against Panama on June 8 in Panama City, Panama. Both games resulted in consecutive 3-0 U.S. wins that put the team in a strong position to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
His goalkeeping antics kept the U.S. in the game early in the second half against Costa Rica, including a save in the 60th minute where he stood up forward Jafet Soto six yards from goal and somehow reached backward with his left hand and slapped the ball with enough power to keep it out of the net. Keller earned a whopping 69 percent of the votes on ussoccer.com for that match, 45 percent more than second-place finisher Landon Donovan (who scored two goals in the game, and set up another).
Keller continued his dominance in the net when the team faced Panama at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, Panama, just four days later, making three incredible saves in a span of five seconds. The first save came when Julio Medina hit a cross into the penalty area where Roberto Brown powered a header pegged for the right corner. Keller sprawled to his left to make the save, but the rebound bounced right to Felipe Baloy, who slammed a shot that Keller stuffed from five yards out. The rebound of Baloy’s attempt then popped into the air where Brown’s second shot was headed sharply from three yards out, where Keller somehow sprung from the ground into its path to not only stop the ball, but snare it in his hands. He earned 52 percent of the votes to garner Man of the Match honors against Panama.
For Keller, the shutout was the 39th in his 81-game U.S. MNT career and his 17th in 29 World Cup qualifying appearances. The goalkeeper also has three straight qualifying shutouts and a shutout streak of 327 minutes.
ussoccerfan.com Man of the Match Voting Results
Man of the Match – June 4, 2005 Pct.
Kasey Keller 69.4 %
Landon Donovan 24.3%
Brian McBride 2.9 %
Man of the Match – June 8, 2005 Pct.
Kasey Keller 51.6 %
Landon Donovan 25.6 %
Carlos Bocanegra 8.4 %