Posted by: Matt Gaschk
Kasey Keller put the final touch on his pro career by winning Seattle's Sports Star of the Year. Now his focus shifts to broadcasting the game he has played professionally for the last 20 years.
For the first time in decades, Kasey Keller isn’t thinking about his next soccer game.
The recently retired Sounders FC goalkeeper and captain was at a Sounders FC preseason training session on Tuesday, watching Michael Gspurning and the rest of the Seattle goalkeepers go through the training camp paces and there he knew he made the right decision to retire at the age of 42.
“It was hard because I didn’t really know how I would feel,” he said. “It feels right. So that’s cool.”
He wasn’t alone at his first training session though, as majority owner Joe Roth and owner Drew Carey were also on hand.
“It’s nice to be here when there’s plenty of other distractions with the big bosses here,” he laughed.
Keller has hardly been idle in his retirement and on Wednesday he was named Seattle’s Professional Sports Star of the Year at the Seattle Sports Commission’s banquet.
Keller posted a 23-10-10 record with 13 shutouts and a 1.05 GAA in 43 matches across all competitions for the Sounders FC in his final MLS season, earning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors. To cap off his tremendous professional and international career, 64,140 fans packed CenturyLink Field in his farewell match, a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
At the 77th Seattle Sports Star of the Year banquet, he was honored along with University of Washington running back Chris Polk, former Gonzaga University basketball player Courtney Vandersloot and Sounders FC senior vice president of business operations Gary Wright as award recipients.
As his former teammates prepare on the pitch for the Sounders FC’s fourth season in Major League Soccer, Keller will soon be gearing up for his first year as color commentator for the club. He will be working alongside new play-by-play voice Ross Fletcher and the duo will soon start meeting to call mock broadcasts to develop rapport and chemistry.
“Once Ross gets over, I will follow his lead. He has a little more experience than I do,” Keller said. “I don’t expect to be flawless at the beginning. It’ll take some time to get things going. I’m just looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great transition.”
The decision to put Keller in the booth was an easy one to make for the Sounders.
“First of all, you knew he had to be part of the organization. You just don’t let somebody like that get away,” Wright said. “What better way to have him relate to the fans and have him be able to talk to the fans on a regular basis than to be a part of the broadcast? It’s a natural fit.”
That’s not to say that Keller hasn’t already started to enjoy his retirement. In addition to riding the motorbike the team presented to him after his final home match, Keller has also taken to snowboarding. On one recent trip up the mountain, he snowboarded with competitors from the RIDE Shakedown snowboarding tour.
“It was humbling. I tried to follow their lines and a couple of times maybe I shouldn’t have,” he smiled. “I’m trying to keep the learning curve as sharp as possible.”
By all indications, if his broadcast career goes like his soccer career or his venture in snowboarding, the Sounders broadcasts should stay at a pretty high standard with Keller in the booth.