Kasey Keller

Sounders FC vs Tottenham Hotspur features rich history of American goalkeepers

From 1990-1994, Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, and Marcus Hahnemann each broke in with the U.S. National Team and helped usher in a golden age of goalkeeping in the States. On Saturday at CenturyLink Field, those three goalkeeping institutions will be on hand as Sounders FC hosts Tottenham Hotspur in an international friendly.

“Sometimes you’ve got to be fortunate for things to break your way,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said when asked about his relationship with Spurs’ goalkeeper Friedel. “But the main thing is, when a door gets opened you’ve got to take full advantage of it.”

While redshirting under Schmid at UCLA, Friedel was afforded an opportunity to train with the U.S. Olympic team at UC-Irvine. Lothar Osiander needed a goalkeeper and called his good friend to seek an extra body in camp.

With his regular starter at UCLA, Anton Nistl, on the shelf with an injury, Schmid suggested his backup instead. Friedel took advantage of that opportunity and quickly rocketed into the picture with the U.S. National Team, where he would compete for playing time with former Sounders FC goalkeeper and current broadcast analyst Keller, as well as current Seattle goalkeeper Hahnemann.

While Friedel and Keller saw the bulk of the playing time, Hahnemann was a standout in his own right that played the bulk of his career in England’s Premier League. All three found success in Europe, but Friedel and Keller were stalwarts in net at the international level, combining for 184 U.S. caps from 1990-2007.

READ: Former Seattle and Tottenham defender Ray Evans eager to attend Saturday's friendly

Including Hahnemann, one or more of that trio appeared on every World Cup roster from 1990-2010, covering six World Cups. When Tim Howard is included as well, Schmid noted that the U.S. coaches always knew they had a solid foundation of goalkeepers for a long time.

“There were a lot of guys who were outstanding goalkeepers. I really think that era from 1990-2010, those four guys, goalkeeping in the states was in good hands,” Schmid said. “They’ve all done it through a lot of hard work. Those guys are definitely a cut above some of the other goalkeepers that we’ve had.”

Here is a look by the numbers at three of the top U.S. goalkeepers who each rose to prominence at the same time.

Brad Friedel - Born 5/18/71 - First cap 9/3/92 - 82 caps - 3 World Cups (94, 98, 02)
Marcus Hahnemann - Born 6/15/72 - First cap 11/19/94 - 9 caps - 2 World Cups (06, 10)
Kasey Keller - Born 11/27/69 - First cap 2/4/90 - 102 caps - 4 World Cups (90, 98, 02, 06)