It is with a heavy heart that Seattle had to hear the announcement that Kasey Keller will be retiring from the Seattle Sounders, and soccer in whole, after the 2011 season, which will be his 23rd season.
To some, Keller was a hero, the player in need, blessing an infant soccer team with his much needed skill. To others, he was a father figure, a community icon, and a good man overall. But all good things must come to an end. Keller is now 41 years old and his best competitive years are behind. Still, the Sounders goalie states that he is still in top condition. “I don’t want to be the guy where everyone says, ‘You should have retired last year,’” he says.
Keller has played in soccer clubs all over the world, making an enormous name for himself. Many consider him to be the best American player of all time, and although the US is not the biggest home to soccer, props should not be taken away from Keller. Before the Sounders, Keller played in Millwall, Leicester City, Rayo Vallencano, Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Fulham. He also played on the 1996 Olympics team and went to the World Cup four times.
Keller was awarded several honors including the CONCACAF Gold Cup three times, the Football League Cup once, and the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup twice. He was also named top American player in 1997, 1999, and 2005. His moment of fame came in 1998 during a game against Brazil, where Keller kept a clean slate against the world famous Brazilian team. This feat immortalized him in soccer lore. Which led the band, Barcelona, to write a song in his honor titled, “Kasey Keller.” Brazilian soccer legend Romario even commented on his performance during the game as the “best [he’s] ever seen from a goalkeeper.”
Keller was the crown jewel of the Sounders team. He was the starting goalie in the first ever Sounders match on March 19th, 2009 where Seattle won 3-0. His clean slate remained that way until May 2nd where the Chicago Fire became the first team to score on him. He also set the MLS record for most minutes without a goal. In the 2010 season, he was 14-10-5 with 11 shutouts, 82 saves, and a 1.15 goals-against average.
Seattle Sounders team manager Adrian Hanauer expressed his support of Keller’s decision to stay with the Sounders despite Keller’s inquiries about his in game-performance. Hanauer expressed that he believes Keller, if any slump, would have the power to turn it around and remain the ace goalie we know and love. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid states that he is happy Keller is staying because the latter’s expertise and motivational presence is what the young team needs.
The most notable thing about Keller, however, was not his love for the sport but for his family. Despite several high paying offers from clubs all over Europe, Keller instead chose Seattle so that his kids can stay in one place and attend school.