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Keller to MLS?

So Borussia Moenchengladbach is going to be relegated, tossed from the Bundesliga for a dreadful season. Why do we care? Because the club's goalkeeper is American Kasey Keller, whose contract expires this summer and who has expressed interest in the past of playing in MLS.

Would Keller help a club like Real Salt Lake, which nearly signed him three years ago? Absolutely. Would other MLS teams be interested in his services? Of course. Would Keller, 37, bring the same mature, stabilizing influence (with more ability) that Ronald Waterreus, 36, has carried to the no-goals-allowed Red Bulls? Yes.

The issue is going to be money. From what I have heard, Keller does not want to come to MLS for a standard maximum salary (approximately $350,000). He wants designated player cash. In a way, you can't blame him. He's been making a million-plus in Europe for many years and could find well-compensated employment elsewhere in Europe if he were to depart Moenchengladbach.

Should an MLS team commit a designated player slot (and the big money that goes with it) to a goalkeeper who still offers quality but is clearly in the twilight of a magnificent career?

By Steve Goff  |  April 30, 2007; 10:06 AM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Considering the quality of offensive players in MLS, I don't think DP money for Keller is worth it. ;-)

Posted by: JTR | April 30, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

What team has a castle for him to live in, though?

Posted by: RK | April 30, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

DC United should not, I can tell you that...

Posted by: Ron | April 30, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Not sure why so many people are against this. A great goalkeeper keeps a team in games they shouldn't be in, and can keep a team much higher up in the standings than they would ordinarily be. Look at what Joe Cannon did for Colorado a few years ago; also look at Friedel with Blackburn. IMO MLS has many good goalkeepers, but very few great ones.

I think that's worth DP money.

Posted by: TM | April 30, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't mind seeing a 2-year deal for DP money to bring him to DC right about now...but I'm not really thinking clearly about United these days...

Posted by: EdTheRed | April 30, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

The fact that Keller has the name recognition should help in the marketing department; thereby, possibly justifying DP money. That makes it more of a tough decision. I really believe that the key to the success of this league is larger, more wide-open pitches with incredibly fast players, ala Eddie Johnson. Anybody who caught the Marseille - Sochaux match yesterday knows what I'm talking about. Anybody else think that the smaller pitch at RFK is partially to blame for the team's "ram it up the middle" tactics?

Posted by: fcmuenchweiler | April 30, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I think the biggest problem with the marketing angle is that you're basically going to be luring people with the prospect of a lower-scoring game which might be great for those of us who are more attuned to soccer but the casual fan might not be so taken with the prospect. It's definitely marketable, but not as easy to market as a Beckham or an Angel.

Also, I think it's analagous to a kicker in the NFL -- a good kicker, like a good goalkeeper, can improve your win percentage by a good 25% but it's not the sexy roster spot and is rarely one of the better-paid positions.

Posted by: bbarrie | April 30, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I like Kasey Keller, but how many season tickets will he sell? Not many. How many away game tickets will he sell? Not many. How many replicas will he sell? Not many. That's the reality. So it doesn't make financial sense to use a DP slot for him.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | April 30, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

We saw how well DCU did on the flanks with the wide field at the Dick--and I'll take the narrow field, thank you very much. I must say that EdTheRed is sounding about right on the United front right now, with our hemorraging goals right now. I'd hate for us to pay DP money to upgrade a very flat Perkins, but after a few more losses and a few more cow victories, we'll all be screaming for it.

Posted by: LeesburgSoccerFan | April 30, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

He's probably "worth it" as a player for another couple of years. I don't think he's "worth it" in the stands now or ever. The people who recognize his name probably all ready follow soccer. If they don't follow the MLS now, Keller being here won't change them. I feel icky typing this, but an aging, bald, keeper just isn't what the league needs.

Posted by: Comfortstarr | April 30, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I know its nit-picky, but I'd disagree to say that Keller brings "the same mature, stabilizing influence (with more ability)" as Waterreus. I think its apples and oranges. Keller is likely a better shot stopper, he's a good communicator and he gives his back a ton of confidence, but I don't think he is anywhere near Waterreus' equal with his feet. The pressure he has been able to relieve from the defense, as well as the posession advantage for the Red Bulls that is lent by Waterreus' accuracy on long balls out of the back has been tremendous. Not a criticism of Keller but, having recently been so impressed with the Walrus I'm not ready to cede the debate just yet. Plus, Waterreus is definitely better value for the money as a max sal player vs DP money.

Posted by: zeusbrowne | April 30, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Can he play defense?


Posted by: Kenny | April 30, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse


How's the spirit over at RFK?

Posted by: jj | April 30, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I agree with all the comments that stated (more or less) Keller is not worth the DP money and more importantly, the DP slot - which I predict all 13 slots will be used before the start of next season.

However, I do think that MLS should make some exception for players with a certain number of caps for the USMNT. Essentially, there should be a financial bonus for the best U.S. players to stay in MLS. It would be nice to see Reyna joined by Keller, Eddie Lewis (who is playing for a Leeds side that is all but assured of going down to League One) and maybe Brian McBride and others (Berhalter, Gibbs, Wolff?) in the next few years.

Posted by: John | April 30, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I'd love to see Keller in MLS. However, as a goakeeper at his age, he is just not worth DP money.

Posted by: Nick | April 30, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Keller should have come back few years ago if he wanted big money. I have nothing but respect for Keller's European career. But Keller and Berhalter are about the only 2 prominent US veterans that never spent time in MLS. It's their right but at some point players have to consider sacrificing money to play here. I doubt a MLS team could justify a 7 figure salary on a GK. Zach Wells, Jon Conway, (until today) Chris Seitz, and Steve Cronin are backups in this league for less than 7 figures and likely can get the job done. Adin Brown would probably return for a 200-300k/yr salary. Keller may or may not have several years left, but the chance of injury increases every year. I'd love him as my GK in MLS, but it's not smart to use 400k of cap space on him and it's probably equivalent to flushing money down the toilet to give him a 7 figure deal.

Ask Dallas how a max salary for a GK has worked out. And what does it say that RSL was the team set to sign him before he went to Germany? Copying RSL decisions? No thank you.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 30, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Akin to Keller, what now happens to Eddie the Eagle now that Leeds falls further and further?

Posted by: EssEff | April 30, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

As much as I love Keller, no goalkeeper is worth a DP spot in this league. The marginal benefits are exceeded by the opportunity costs of tying up cap money that would otherwise be available to make improvements in the midfield or upfront, that would have a much greater overall impact on the team. Great field players can hide a less than stellar goalie. Troy Perkins led the league in GAA and was voted goalie of the year last year: enough said.

Posted by: Nick | April 30, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

anonymouse 1:29PM; Onyewu hasn't ever spent time in MLS either

Keller simply isn't worth more than $400K from a marketing or team standpoint. The US produces keepers of good quality quite consistently so paying all that money simply isn't worth it.
From a marketing standpoint, how many people really list Kasey as their fave USMNT player? Or have ever made a point of going to see a team play JUST for the keeper? Not many. Kasey wouldn't be an exception.

Posted by: Papa Bear | April 30, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

I threw in "veteran" hoping that would exclude Onyewu, but yeah it's debatable (at 24 for a CB I don't think Onyewu has hit his prime years yet). My point was about all those players already "pro" when MLS was formed. Most of them came back from Europe. Granted then MLS was paying pretty well for USNMNT players and Europe didn't pay as well as it does now, so I'm not sure if Harkes, Wynalda, Lalas, etc really took much of pay cut. Reyna and Keller stand out as the most prominent 30+ USMNT players to have never set foot in MLS. Both have talked about coming home to finish their career for years. Reyna probably took a pay cut to do it now. Keller had a chance a couple years ago (as far as I can remember) to join RSL but instead took a better offer to go to Germany. That's his right, but I'm not going to feel too sorry if noone is dumb enough to equal European pay to bring him home at age 37.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 30, 2007 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Given the state of the game in this country, DP signings should be as much for PR value as on-field ability. The player must be visible enough or well-known enough to promote the sport beyond his market. I think Keller could do that, especially in a city (Salt Lake or K.C., for example) where soccer has been slow to take hold. I wouldn't be upset to see him in United colors, either, although Perkins doesn't deserve to carry the weight of DCU's defensive problems. He wouldn't be needed to sell the game in D.C., however, as I believe the region has supported soccer well for nearly 30 years.

Posted by: Greg | May 1, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

If you want to play for the league that is close to your heart, you have to make sacrifices.

Yes, he's making millions in Europe. He's a good keeper, but soccer is life over there. Soccer isn't even second or third fiddle in the US. Market is smaller and salary is therefore less.

If you can't deal with 300K a year, then stop telling people how much you want to play in the US and play in the European leagues and get paid.

Posted by: Dave | May 2, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

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