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Friday, June 22, 2007

Gold Cup: Kasey Keller Reaches the 100 match milestone: USA 2 x Canada 1

In last night's semi-final match of the Gold Cup, long-time US National Team fixture, goalkeeper Kasey Keller, entered the exclusive 100 international caps club. The native of Lacey, Washington, who played his college soccer at the University of Portland, was one of the first American pioneers to ply his trade overseas. During college, he also played a season with F.C. Portland.

After graduation, Keller entered the raucous football environment known as Millwall, in the English First Division, and quickly became a fan favorite. His efforts, in my opinion, opened the doors for many Yanks to follow. At that time (early 1990s) American players were not well-respected overseas. After almost five years at Millwall, he was sold to Leicester City, and then to Rayo Velacano of La Liga in Spain. After two years, he returned to the EPL with Tottenham Hotspur, was loaned briefly to Southhampton, and has spent the last two years in the German Bundeliga with Borussia Monchengladbach.

Kasey was on the WC 1990 team in Italy, but was omitted from the 1994 side during the tournament in his own country. In 1998, he returned to feature in WC 98 (and also was in goal the night the USA defeated Brasil in 1998 due in most part to his heroic saves), although in WC 2002, he was the second choice to Brad Friedel. But in true form, Kasey was the starting keeper for all three of the group games in Germany. Claudio Reyna is the only other American to participate in four World Cups. At the age of 37, Keller still has the presence, talent, and reflexes to excel at the international level. He has been named US Soccer Athlete of the Year on three occassions, which is a record.

He is very adept with languages, has a good sense of humor, along with a tremendous wit. I have heard him interviewed in Spanish several times, and I assume that his German is equally fluent. Last year, he was named team captain of Borussia Monchengladbach, which is a rare honor for a foreigner. He is now a free agent.

Congratulations, Kasey, on cap #100. Although an apparent equalizing goal by Canada in injury time was disallowed for offsides, the USA remains unbeaten against our Northern neighbors since 1985. Our neighbors to the South, Mexico, awaits on Sunday for the Gold Cup final in Chicago. El Tri has not scored a goal on American soil since 1999; however, expect the crowd in Chicago to be pro-Mexico. Which is usually the case whenever these two fierce rivals meet in North America.

For a look at Keller's career stats, please click here.

For a look at the historic win against Brasil in the Gold Cup of 1998, please click here. Keller had 10 saves, and was lauded by Romario after the game.

To view the all-time list of players who have played in over 100 games for their respective countries, please click here. Cobi Jones of the LA Galaxy is fourth on this list with 164 international appearances for the USA.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kasey Keller will be at The Free Kick Masters 2007 in Houston, Texas USA on December 22, 2007.
We are considering giving away signed tee shirts, jerseys, balls, etc. and having some contests online. Any suggestions?

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