RENTON, WASH. – Chris Eylander, who led USL First Division goalkeepers in saves the past two seasons, has signed a Major League Soccer contract with Seattle Sounders FC, it was announced today. Terms were not disclosed.
Eylander, a 24-year old graduate from the University of Washington, played the past three seasons with the USL-1 Seattle Sounders, making 78 appearances and finishing No. 2 in career shutouts (29). He is the second keeper on the Sounders FC roster, joining Kasey Keller.
“Having played for the USL Sounders the past three years and having grown up in the area, I had always wanted to play in MLS,” Eylander said. “To reach that goal and do so by playing for the first MLS team in Seattle is really, really special for me and very exciting.”
Each of the past two seasons Eylander led USL-1 in saves and finished second in league shutouts. He starred in the 2007 USL-1 championship game, in which Seattle defeated Atlanta, 4-0.
“We’re very excited to have Chris join our team,” said head coach Sigi Schmid. “I’ve seen him play at the University of Washington and I also followed his career with the USL Sounders. “He’s a quality goalkeeper and a quality individual for our team.”
During the 2008 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Eylander set a tournament record by holding opponents scoreless for 453 minutes, including shutouts against Chivas USA and the Kansas City Wizards. His performance earned him the player of the tournament, chosen by USOpenCup.com. Seattle reached the Open Cup semifinals in both 2007 and ’08.
Eylander trained the past two USL-1 seasons under Tom Dutra, who was announced as the Sounders FC goalkeeper coach on Dec. 29.
A native of Auburn, Eylander was Auburn Riverside High School’s male athlete of the year. He lettered four years at the University of Washington (2002-05), sharing the starting the final two years. Following his senior season he ranked No. 3 in career shutouts (18), No. 4 in saves and No. 5 in goals against average.
Sounders FC begins its inaugural MLS season by hosting the New York Red Bulls at Qwest Field on March 19.