Tom Dutra has a smile on his face each morning as he heads out to training.
The Sounders FC goalkeeper coach has a lot to smile about too – not the least of which is the two rookie goalkeepers who are competing for the third goalkeeper spot for the Sounders FC.
Bryan Meredith and Josh Ford have fit in well early in Seattle’s training camp and have worked well together as well as with incumbents Kasey Keller and Terry Boss.
“The two of them have great attitudes. They come to work,” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I can see it on the smile on Tom Dutra’s face every time he comes out to practice. He’s really enjoying working with those guys.”
Who can blame the two draftees for coming to camp with a bit of extra excitement either?
In Seattle, they are training with, as Ford puts it, “one of the top goalkeepers in American history.” Meredith describes training as “an honor.” Between Keller and Dutra, they have plenty to learn, but that’s not to say Dutra can toss out blanket lessons to them that cover both players.
They are as different in front of the net as their backgrounds.
Meredith, 23, is from Scotch Plains, New Jersey and led little-known Monmouth University for three seasons. Drafted in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft, he gained praise for his ability to organize his defense, handle crosses into the box and play with the ball at his feet.
Ford, 25, is from Liverpool, New York and played four years at the University of Connecticut – one of the better-known soccer schools in the NCAA. He was bypassed in the SuperDraft and was taken in the first round of the Supplemental Draft five days later. His strengths are his athleticism and shot-stopping, as well as his calming presence in the net.
“They’re both very eager to learn and I’ve been very happy to work with them every day,” Dutra said. “They’ve been able to work very hard every day and take what I’ve asked of them and try to apply it to their game.”
If you ask the players themselves, it’s easy to understand Dutra’s enthusiasm because it is mirrored in the young goalkeepers.
“Coming here was my number one choice,” Meredith said. “To be able to practice and play with Kasey Keller on a daily basis and learn from him - I know he’s had years of experience all over the world - it’s an honor to be a part of it.”
Added Ford, “You can’t ask for much more.”
Nor can Dutra, who was hoping to get a third goalkeeper that could push Boss for the backup role. Instead, he got two. No wonder his smile has been so ubiquitous.