McIntosh Making His Mark
Playing an individual position in a team sport and competing for the only spot in the starting lineup, goalkeepers have an interesting dynamic when competing for playing time.
They compete against each other in training, always pushing each other to either earn or keep the position as a starter. But, through it all, goalkeepers have a tendency to stay loyal to each other. After all, they are still teammates.
Just ask U.S. U-17 MNT goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh, who has been competing for roster spots and playing time since joining the Residency Program two years ago. Every day, he and his fellow ‘keepers – who are also his competition – train together in a small, close-knit group.
Despite the rigors of the daily competition among the goalkeepers, they come together when it counts.
“We know that there is only one spot available, and I think there are boundaries set by that,” said McIntosh, who started the first two U.S. games of the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. “But I also think that whether you’re the No. 1 or the No. 3, you still have to be willing to help the other ‘keepers get better because they’re still your teammates. At any time they could be playing. You need to help them and they need to help you.”
Staying sharp and training daily among the best players in the country has helped McIntosh move up the ladder from the USA’s No. 2 goalkeeper to the World Cup starter in a matter of months.
Stepping into an important quarterfinal match at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship against El Salvador, McIntosh was also called upon for the semifinal and final of that tournament, helping his team to the regional crown.
His confidence growing, McIntosh began to push for more and more playing time as the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup approached.
“Anytime you get to step into a tournament’s quarterfinal, semifinal and final and help your team, you’re definitely going to feel more confident in your abilities,” he said. “I do think that helped me a lot in moving in this direction. I know that I need to keep building off of those performances and improving, but yes I do think they help my confidence.”
Less than four months after coming on as a substitute and helping the U.S. win that quarterfinal game, clinch a World Cup berth, and win both the semifinal and final, McIntosh keeps those lessons with him.
“I think you learn a lot as a No. 2,” he said. “It’s actually a lot different. You see everything differently and you just have to learn a lot so that when you get that chance to go in and show what you bring to the table.”
Much like the World Cup itself, where one moment can change a game, McIntosh has learned how to manage those moments along the way.
“Everything you work for during that time period can be showcased in one moment,” said McIntosh. “Being a back-up helps a lot in the progression to being a No. 1 because of everything you learn about staying sharp with along the way. You have to be mature and I think that being a good number two is crucial to being a number one.”
Now, as his game seems to be peaking at the right time, McIntosh can backstop his team to the knock-out stages with a win against New Zealand on Saturday. With just one loss in 2011 and an overall 0.56 goals against average for the year, McIntosh will be doing everything he can to keep that winning record intact.