Rarely have those oft-quoted words given me so much comfort. It allows me to believe that my favorite team didn't once again spend the seed money on an overage stiff whose best days have unquestionably seen sunset, and we're talking a pretty theoretical definition of best to begin with. Yes, Jamaica beat Mexico in qualifying this past round, but Ricketts didn't shut out Mexico, Mexico shut out Mexico.
Probably my deepest and most longstanding prejudice is that no MLS team should ever have to rely on a foreign goalkeeper, because, after all, the United States produces so many quality keepers. For a while there I was able to name every foreign goalkeeper in MLS history.
Khalil Azmi, I think was his name - Moroccan guy
That other Chivas USA 2005 keeper that started ahead of Guzan
That United flop keeper from this year, the one Wells replaced
At this point I went to MLSnet, Google, and so forth, to see if I had missed anyone remotely important. Oh, Greg Sutton, but did he actually play for the Fire? I mean, counting Canadian keepers playing in Canada as foreign isn't even MLS policy. Besides, the Redcoats have had so many damn keepers in their short, glorious history.
Hm, apparently I missed one on my own team, since BigSoccer's Galaxy page counts Wicks as German. But he doesn't count as a foreign player, now, does he? (If the Galaxy bio page is correct, then having been born on a military base probably doesn't even qualify him as German. But this isn't the time and place to discuss jus soli, especially in connection with a guy who might have seen his last MLS minute of playing time.
D'oh, Dario Sala. Oh, Tony Caig was English. Surprised he's not on their national team at this point. Aidan Heaney, forgot him. Jan Eriksson! I was trying to remember who played for the World All-Star team in 1998.
Okay, I forgot four guys, two of whom I really should have remembered. (And apparently Azmi never played for the Rapids, which means he started Colorado's glorious tradition of foreign players crashing out horribly in Denver.)
In all fairness, Pat Onstad makes a fairly good case for best keeper in MLS history. He has the most championship, he has the lowest season GAA, he's kept his job for years under different coaches in different cities.
That is the exception that proves the rule. In order for Onstad to justify being kept all this time by San Jouston, he pretty much had to be the best keeper in MLS history, or thereabouts.
A lot of the other guys on that list were fan favorites to some degree...the ones that weren't centerfolds in More Trouble Than They're Worth Monthly.
Fine, the jury's out on Crayton. Dallas fans love Sala, Rapids fans love Coundoul. There's nothing to say that Galaxy fans, myself included, won't welcome this new Donovan as much as they did the old one.
Except...Onstad is the only foreign keeper to win a championship. Ever.* Onstad, Campos and Sala are the only guys who were over .500 for their MLS career - Sala by five games. And you would have been over .500 if you started in goal for the Galaxy in the 1996.
Am I saying that Buffon or Casillas would not succeed in MLS?
...boy, I'd love to. But it's a little simpler than that. MLS teams that have relied on foreign keepers, with pretty much the single exception of the Dynamo, have had to do so because of a significant failure in scouting and talent evaluation. That described the Galaxy in horrifying detail, especially when it comes to international players. The last guy the Galaxy signed because he had a nifty performance against Mexico was Carlos Pavon, and how did that turn out?
Yes, but there's a new sheriff in town, Bruce Arena...the man who brought in Wattereus for the Red Bulls.
Oh, well, I'll keep supporting the Galaxy anyway.
But I'm not gonna lie to you...it was a tough choice between "Friend" and "Foe," and BigSoccer doesn't let you choose both.
Oh, very amusing, BigSoccer. Ho ho, it is to laugh.
Gonna be another long season, I know it.
*Go ahead. Tell otherwise rational people that Campos has a ring from the 1998 Fire. He wasn't even in the stadium that day.