Nearly a month after winning an historic third consecutive Lamar Hunt US Open Cup trophy, the career of former US goalkeeper Kasey Keller came to a heartbreaking end as the Seattle Sounders were unable to make up a three-goal deficit in the second round of the MLS Cup playoffs Wednesday evening.
The 2-0 victory on the night, 3-2 loss on aggregate to RSL, came before a crowd of 36,052 on a cool, rainy night at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA. Just over two weeks ago, the club and community nearly sold out the NFL venue with an exuberant crowd of 64,140 that came out to celebrate Keller’s career, which helped bring immediate success on the field to the young MLS franchise in its first three seasons.
Over the past three US Open Cup tournaments Keller was the co-leader in matches played among goalkeepers with Ronnie Pascale (Richmond Kickers), seeing action in nine games. He played, however, 30 more minutes and had an unbeaten 8-0-1 record as the club won the three titles, allowing just six goals in 870 minutes. He had an unblemished 7-0-0 record versus MLS opposition, allowing four goals in 660 minutes. Keller never allowed more than one goal in any game in his nine starts.
He was honored as TheCup.us 2009 Player of the Tournament in his return to the professional game in the United States. Keller began his professional career with FC Portland during the 1989 Western Soccer Alliance (later A-League / USL First Division), where he was honored as league MVP, but would spend the remainder of his career abroad with Millwall (England), Leicester City (England), Rayo Vallecano (Spain), Tottenham (England), Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany) and Fulham (England).
Although Keller only lifted the Open Cup trophy [among the four Majors] while with Seattle, his career was not without other esteemed moments. He played in over 100 games for the US National Team, winning three CONCACAF Gold Cups and earning US Soccer Athlete of the Year honors on three occasions. While abroad, he helped Leicester City win the 1996-97 Football League Cup (now Carling Cup) tournament.
Although Keller only played two games in his final Open Cup campaign, he went a perfect 180 minutes without allowing a goal as the Sounders blanked fellow CONCACAF Champions League side FC Dallas in the Semifinals, 1-0, and the four-time tournament champion Chicago Fire, 2-0, in the Final. Keller’s netminding proved critical in all three tournaments as the two-goal championship victory in 2011 marked only second time the team won by more than one goal in his nine appearances. He was victorious by one goal on six occasions and needed a penalty shootout to break a draw in the other.
Though he will not be with the club next spring, Keller also helped propel the Sounders into the Quarterfinals of the Champions League, marking the furthest point any representative as Open Cup champion has progressed in the four editions of the current format.
Kasey Keller’s US Open Cup Game Log
|R3||7/1/2009||@ Portland Timbers||USL-1||90||2-1||W|
|QF||7/7/2009||Kansas City Wizards||MLS||90||1-0||W|
|F||9/2/2009||@ DC United||MLS||90||2-1||W|
|R3||6/30/2010||@ Portland Timbers||USSFD2||120||1-1||D||W 4-3 in PK, 2 saves|