Former Sounder Keller reflects on 100th cap for USMNT

The legendary goalkeeper enjoyed a long and fruitful time between the sticks for the United States.

U.S. National Team @ Costa Rica
2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying; CONCACAF regional tournament
September 6, 2013, 7 pm PT; Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica
TV: BeIN Sports

On Friday, the U.S. National Team will meet Costa Rica in their seventh match in the Hexagonal Round of World Cup qualifying. If he plays in the match, it will mark the 100th cap in the international career of Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey, making him the 14th player to reach the illustrious milestone.

Another among that group is former Sounders FC goalkeeper and current broadcast analyst Kasey Keller. At the time that Keller reached the century mark, he was just the 10th player to play 100 matches for the U.S.

“That’s that main milestone in internationals,” Keller said. “There are a lot of players who have donned the jersey for the U.S. National Team and it’s an honor to be among those players.”

The Olympia native and U.S. National Team legend earned his 100th cap during the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but under much different circumstances than Dempsey. While Dempsey is still in his prime and seeking to help qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup as captain of the American squad, Keller was winding down his international career and looking to usher in his successor in Tim Howard.

Additionally, Keller tore his quad near the end of the prior season for Borussia Monchengladbach and was on the path to recovery during the 2007 Gold Cup tournament. Those factors meant Keller split time with Howard during the tournament, playing his 99th match in the Group Stage in a 2-0 shutout of Trinidad and Tobago. In that match, the goalscorers were former A-League Sounder Brian Ching and future MLS Sounder Eddie Johnson.

That set the stage for his milestone start against Canada in the semifinal, as Howard started both other Group Stage matches and the quarterfinal victory over Guatemala.

Frankie Hejduk and Landon Donovan staked the U.S. to a 2-0 halftime lead, but a late goal from Iain Hume and a red card to Michael Bradley left the veteran calling on all of his experience to guide his team to the final. It also took some good fortune, Keller recalled.

“We got a little lucky in the end. We were playing a man down and Canada got an equalizing goal late that got called off for offside … which might not have been offside,” he smiled. “To have had to go into the extra time periods already a man down would have been difficult, but we held on and got the win.”

Howard manned the net for the final, a 2-1 win over Mexico to give the U.S. their second straight Gold Cup title.

Keller would play two more matches in Copa America before retiring as the all-time leader in goalkeeper appearances for the U.S. National Team with 102.

Since then, Landon Donovan, Carlos Bocanegra and DaMarcus Beasley have joined Keller with 100 caps and, if all goes as expected, Dempsey will reach the milestone on Friday.

The full list of players to reach 100 caps is Cobi Jones (164), Donovan (151), Jeff Agoos (134), Marcelo Balboa (128), Claudio Reyna (112), Bocanegra (110), Paul Caligiuri (110), Beasley (109), Eric Wynalda (106), Keller (102), Earnie Stewart (101), Joe-Max Moore (100) and Tony Meola (100).

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