Sounders' Keller thinks 2010 won't be the end
TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) -- After 28 regular season Major League Soccer matches, two international exhibitions and a run to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller still feels pretty good.
Not bad for a 39-year-old. And it's making Keller more confident he has enough left to play beyond the initial two-year contract he signed with the Sounders that brought the Washington native back after more than a decade playing in the top leagues in Europe.
Having hinted that he would like to still be playing for the Sounders when expansion teams in Portland and Vancouver are expected to join the MLS in 2011, Keller said Tuesday he would be "surprised" if he still wasn't in goal when a heated Pacific Northwest rivalry is expected to begin.
"You never know what is around the corner, but I would feel a little bit surprised if I wasn't still playing that year," Keller said.
The most capped goalkeeper in U.S. national team history will wrap up his first MLS regular season on Saturday when Seattle hosts FC Dallas. Keller and the Sounders already have their playoff ticket punched, becoming just the second expansion team in league history to qualify for the postseason.
Keller has started all 28 MLS games he's played in, missing one because of a red card. His 0.92 goals against average and 10 shutouts are second in the league behind Zach Thornton from Chivas USA.
Keller first got a taste of what the rivalry with the other Northwest teams could be like during the third round of the U.S. Open Cup in July when Seattle beat Portland of the USL's First Division 2-1. The game played in Portland was greeted by a raucous sellout crowd.
"I've hinted at it a lot of times and (general manager) Adrian (Hanauer) and I have talked about it a little bit, although we haven't sat down and truly discussed it yet," Keller said about an extension.
Hanauer said later Tuesday the team will happily keep Keller around as long as the goalkeeper feels he can contribute.
"As far as I'm concerned this is his home, and it's his goal and as long as he wants to be here I'm assuming we're going to figure something out," Hanauer said.
But if Keller returns for 2011 that might be it. He turns 40 in late November and while he has been one of the top goalkeepers in the league this season, Keller wants to make sure his skills remain up to his standards.
"I've said many, many times I don't want to become that guy that everyone said should have retired last year," Keller said. "I want to make sure I am able to play at a level I expect of myself and other people as well."
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