Five things to know about MLS Week 11 (cont.)
1. Kevin Hartman, FC Dallas: FC Dallas' spiffy record since seeing David Ferreira fall says a lot for the team's resiliency and determination. But make no mistake, Hartman's heroic work in goal has a lot to do with it, too. He's not the best in dealing with crosses, but he's among the league's best shot-stoppers right now, and his instincts inside the six are unfailing.
2. Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake: That league-leading 0.50 goals-against average says a lot about the terrific defense in front of him. Still, once or twice a game the U.S. international still manages a game-turning save, so props to him, too. Rimando is reliable, quick and brave. It's only his relatively small size that made him a career MLS man (rather than heading overseas.) But he's been a darn good MLS man for a long time.
3. Stefan Frei, Toronto FC: Pay no attention to that inflated goals-against average, nor even that six-spot Philadelphia buried him with Saturday. Frei is far and away the league leader in saves, as the TFC goal has been under siege most of the season. If not for Frei's feats, a modest season around BMO would be more humbling, still. (By the way, Frei led the league in saves last year, too.)
4. Faryd Mondragon, Philadelphia: Mondragon is the classic example of a 'keeper who may not have the quickness of a former day, but who more than atones with anticipation, astute positioning and steely leadership, something his team desperately needed in order to stabilize the rear. Mondragon is a big reason Philly is the Eastern Conference surprise team of 2011.
5. Kasey Keller, Seattle: He keeps insisting that 2011 will be his last year -- and good on him for going out willingly, without being forced out. That said, he probably could play one more season if he wanted, based on performances so far in 2011 that have been every bit as solid as any other point in his decorated 20-year career.
6. Tally Hall, Houston: Except for a boo-boo that cost points against Colorado, Hall has taken his first starting assignment and absolutely knocked it out of the park. After a couple of uneventful years in Denmark and two years deputizing in Houston under Pat Onstad, the 26-year-old Hall has the look of a goalkeeper who could find work around MLS for a lot of years to come.
7. William Hesmer, Columbus: While Columbus has usually struggled to score in 2011, Hesmer and his defense have managed to keep the Crew in the thick of things. At 29, he's just getting into the sweet spot of a goalkeeper's career.
8. Donovan Ricketts, Los Angeles Galaxy: He's not quite the force that he was two seasons back, but he's still able to stretch himself inside the goal to intimidating effect. His technique might be slightly unconventional, but his numbers speak for themselves: his 0.55 goals-against average is second in MLS.
9. Bouna Coundoul, New York: Two years ago, "Comedy Condoul" wouldn't have gotten within goal kicking distance of spot among the league's Top 10. But he really has matured into a dependable 'keeper with smarter positioning and better awareness, eschewing his former erratic ways while maintaining the athleticism that enables the big save. His distribution can be flaky, which may be why Greg Sutton has started lately for the Red Bulls.
10. Jon Busch, San Jose: He may be slightly undersized, but he's feisty and effective. San Jose coach Frank Yallop thought enough of him to dump veteran Joe Cannon, from whom Busch inherited the job last year.
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