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Young American Keepers Going Abroad – From College To The Pros
January 27, 2007

Young American Keepers Going Abroad…Because There Is No Room At Home…

From College to the Pros – The US Soccer Ladder
Saturday, January 27, 2007

Each year, after the college season ends and before MLS kicks off we start seeing reports of young Americans testing the European soccer waters. Players of all positions give it a go, but it seems Goalkeepers are among the most successful.

This year young prospects Tally Hall and Chris Konopka are trying to join the long list of successful American keepers playing abroad.

Both were drafted by MLS clubs but they have decided to try their luck on the other side of the pond.

Konopka is awaiting a Polish passport to sign with Cardiff City while Hall is considering an offer from top Danish side, Esbjerg fB.

Names like Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel and Tim Howard are well known by all American soccer fans.

They’re starting keepers in the English Premier League and two of three got their start in MLS.

We can’t forget about Adin Brown and Marcus Hahnemann. Two more keepers holding down the starting job professionally in European top leagues and two more keepers who earned their current jobs by impressing in MLS.

Hall and Konopka are not the first American keepers to try Europe before MLS, however it seems this is becoming the preferred route for young American keepers.

Both of the young Americans fell in the draft. While I don’t have information as to why the highly regarded and skilled Hall fell to the last round of the SuperDraft I assume there were two factors. 1) MLS clubs have a couple talented keepers already on the books 2) Hall was already looking to see his options abroad.

I contend that reason #1 is the heart of the matter. Hall was no doubt looking abroad before the MLS draft because he knew his value wouldn’t be too high with clubs already deep in keepers.

The LA Galaxy drafted Hall and they in no way need another keeper on the bench with Joe Cannon, Steve Cronin and Josh Saunders already on the bench. Cannon has established himself as the best keeper in MLS, Cronin was a highly touted college prospect himself a few short years ago and Saunders is no slouch after splitting time between the Gals and USL-1 Timbers.

With keepers being able to play well into their late thirties (Onstand and Meola I’m looking at you) how is a young keeper supposed to break through and earn a starting job and bigger paycheck. At a certain point it becomes impossible when ten keepers are being drafted into the league each season and only a couple leave.

The US is for some reason a perfect breeding ground for soccer goalkeepers. It must be all the good food we eat, making taller and bigger kids every year. At young ages their coaches put them between the pipes and they stay there. We’ve got a glut of goalies and we’re starting to bust at the seams.

Hall and Konopka seem to be making the right move for their careers and I have no doubt this trend will continue and expand. American keepers are in demand abroad why should they rot on the bench while old farts like Pat Onstad continue to mind the nets.

This is one situation where I’m happy to see young players bolting from MLS and the USL. We’ve got enough quality in our league…and the young guys shouldn’t be waiting around for an opportunity to prove their worth.

From College to the Pros – The US Soccer Ladder
Saturday, January 27, 2007