Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Chris Eylander was a unanimous selection as the TheCup.us Player of the Round for the Quarterfinals. The award was voted on by the TheCup.us staff and members of the North American Soccer Reporters.
Eylander was challenged for the award by Jamie Moreno of DC United, along with goalkeepers Doug Warren of the New England Revolution and Eric Kronberg of the Kansas City Wizards.
The University of Washington alum helped the Sounders earn their fourth straight shutout in the tournament (a Professional Era single-tournament record of 421 shutout minutes), while holding Major League Soccer’s Kansas City Wizards to a scoreless draw through 120 minutes of play. After extra time, Seattle earned their second straight trip to the Semifinals with a 6-5 win in the penalty kick shootout.
Eylander made 13 saves in the match, including two stops (Jimmy Conrad, Tyson Wahl) in the shootout to send the Sounders to a date with fellow USL First Division club, the Charleston Battery on August 12 at Blackbaud Stadium.
The goalkeeper took some time to talk with TheCup.us following his Quarterfinal performance.
TheCup.us: First of all, congratulations on the win on Tuesday and for being named “Player of the Round.” The Wizards definitely put some pressure on your net, forcing you to make 13 saves. Was there a moment for you personally, or a particular defensive stop, where you felt like your defense was going to keep this shutout streak going.
Eylander: Thanks a lot for congratulating me. I don’t remember there being a distinct moment where I knew we were going to shut out the Wizards in regular play. We were under pressure in spells throughout the entirety of the game. Playing in any game a breakdown can occur at any time. I was very determined to do everything I could to keep the ball out of the net and help communicate with the players in front of me to dissallow any unnecessary opportunities on goal.
TheCup.us: In the penalty kick shootout, or any penalty kick shootout, do you just guess, or do you try to read the shooter? What’s your approach?
Eylander: PK tactics can always vary. I don’t think any goalkeeper would like to give out their secrets to how they approach penalties. In general, if you can determine any information from the player’s approach to the ball, this is a whole lot better than a random guess.
TheCup.us: Some MLS teams rest their starters for Open Cup games, but even the ones who field strong lineups are still getting knocked off the last couple of years. Do you feel like the talent gap is closing between the USL-1 and MLS or is the motivation for the USL-1 teams greater?
Eylander: Regardless of who the MLS teams are fielding, you can’t look at the last couple of years in Open Cup play and not see that the USL teams are competing very well with them.
TheCup.us: Sebastien Le Toux has already secured a place on the Seattle MLS roster. Is the prospect of getting a contract with the MLS Sounders creating some extra pressure for the rest of the players on the roster? Is that something that’s talked about among your teammates?
Eylander: I think every one of the players on the team would love the oppurtunity to play at the next level up. It may add a bit of pressure for the players. Playing well consistently thoughout the USL season and performing well against other MLS teams would add a lot of credibility for those looking to play at the MLS level. It isn’t something that I have noticed to be talked about much amongst the players. We understand that taking care of business in league and Open Cup play is the most important area of concentration for the team.
TheCup.us: Do you feel like you will be wearing a Seattle uniform next season?
Eylander: I would very much like to be wearing a Seattle uniform next season.
TheCup.us: Looking ahead to the next round, you’ve got Charleston at Blackbaud Stadium on August 12. Is there a different level of pressure when facing a team you’re familiar with rather than a team you rarely play, or have never played? What’s your outlook for the semifinal matchup with Charleston?
Eylander: The good thing about playing in Charleston for the Semifinals is that we have already played there twice this year. We will be much more familiar with the pitch, the environment and the team as opposed to if we were playing an unknown team for the first time away from home. We will also have more time this round [Three weeks as opposed to one] to prepare and get players healthy. The semifinals will be a very challenging game. Charleston has a strong team and will give us a tough match.
About the NASR
The North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) are a group that consists of members of print, television, radio and online media. More information and membership information can be found at www.soccerreporters.com.
The 2008 Seattle Sounders now hold the record for the longest single-tournament shutout streak, but D.C. United have the high mark for longest streak over multiple competitions.
D.C. United (1996-1997, 564 mins.)
09/04/96 2-0 vs. Carolina Dynamo (GK – Jeff Causey) 90 mins.
10/27/96 2-0 vs. Dallas Burn (GK – Mark Simpson) 90 mins.
10/30/96 3-0 vs. Rochester Raging Rhinos (GK – Mark Simpson) 90 mins.
08/06/97 0-0 (PKW 3-2) vs. Hershey Wildcats (GK – Scott Garlick) 120 mins.
08/19/97 2-0 vs. Tampa Bay Mutiny (GK – Scott Garlick) 90 mins.
09/03/97 2-1 vs. San Francisco Bay Seals (GK – Scott Garlick) 84 mins.
Seattle Sounders (2008, 421 mins.)
09/04/07 1-2 vs. FC Dallas (GK – Chris Eylander) 1 min.
06/10/08 1-0 vs. Arizona Sahuaros (GK – Chris Eylander) 120 mins.
06/24/08 6-0 vs. Hollywood United (GK – Chris Eylander) 90 mins.
07/01/08 2-0 vs. Chivas USA (GK – Chris Eylander) 90 mins.
07/08/08 0-0 (PKW 6-5) vs. Kansas City Wizards (GK – Chris Eylander) 120 mins.
Colorado Rapids (1999, 381 mins.)
07/30/97 1-2 vs. Chicago Stingers (GK – Paul Grafer) 46 mins.
07/13/99 1-0 vs. Seattle Sounders (GK – Ian Feuer) 90 mins.
08/13/99 1-0 vs. Tampa Bay Mutiny (GK – Ian Feuer) 90 mins.
09/01/99 3-0 vs. Charleston Battery (GK – Ian Feuer) 90 mins.
09/13/99 0-2 vs. Rochester Raging Rhinos (GK – Ian Feuer) 65 mins.
Carolina RailHawks (2007, 329 mins.)
06/12/07 4-1 vs. RWB Adria (GK Chris McClellan) 14 mins.
06/26/07 4-0 vs. Bavarian SC (GK – Chris McClellan) 90 mins.
07/15/07 1-0 vs. Chicago Fire (GK – John O’Hara) 90 mins.
08/07/07 1-0 vs. Richmond Kickers (GK – Chris McClellan) 90 mins.
09/04/07 1-2 vs. New England Revolution (GK – Chris McClellan) 45 mins.
Charleston Battery (2007, 324 mins.)
08/02/06 3-3 (PKL 3-5) vs. FC Dallas (GK – Dusty Hudock) 1 min.
06/12/07 3-0 vs. Central Florida Kraze (GK – Keith Wiggans) 90 mins.
06/26/07 1-0 vs. El Paso Patriots (GK – Dusty Hudock) 90 mins.
07/10/07 1-0 vs. Houston Dynamo (GK – Dusty Hudock) 120 mins.
08/07/07 1-2 vs. FC Dallas (GK – Dusty Hudock) 23 mins.
San Jose Earthquakes (2000-2001, 292 mins.)
08/09/00 0-2 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (GK – Joe Cannon) 9 mins.
06/27/01 6-0 vs. Central Coast Roadrunners (GK – Jon Conway) 90 mins.
07/11/01 0-0 (PKW 7-6) vs. Milwaukee Rampage (GK – Jon Conway) 120 mins.
07/24/01 1-1 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (GK – Jon Conway) 73 mins.
Dallas Roma FC (2006, 259 mins.)
06/14/06 2-2 (PKW 4-2) vs. Laredo Heat (GK – Jesse Llamas) 14 mins.
06/28/06 1-0 vs. Miami FC (GK – Jesse Llamas) 90 mins.
07/12/06 0-0 (PKW 4-2) vs. Chivas USA (GK – Jesse Llamas) 120 mins.
08/01/06 0-2 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (GK – Nestor Merlo) 35 mins.
Longest Shutout Streak in Professional Era (1995 – present)
DC United (1996-97) 564 mins.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS (2008) 421 mins.
Colorado Rapids (1999) 381 mins.
Carolina RailHawks (2007) 329 mins.
Charleston Battery (2007) 324 mins.
San Jose Earthquakes (2000-01) 292 mins.
Dallas Roma FC (2006) 259 mins.