Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Familiar Faces

A pile of work came along again, but I've now managed to fashion a window to continue dialing back the AAotY's. This first one nearly landed on the last post, but in the end the keeper finished a close second...

00/01 Earnie Stewart

Yeah, I originally was going to give this to Kasey Keller for his second Rayo Vallecano season (which included three shutouts on the way to the UEFA Cup quarters), but his league play definitely had some rough spots. Stewart also had some early bumps (he only had two goals by the winter break), but came on down the stretch to help NAC Breda comfortably achieve survival after being promoted from a one-year dip in the second flight. The attacker hit a big winner at Vitesse after the pause, and then added two more plus a last-gasp equalizer over the final 10 games of the season. Stewart's eight goals (and fiery passion) led the club.

Obviously, there won't be any individual season compilation reels from back then, but I did find his mazy-turned-a bit lucky 1st minute winner over F-word from that season.

99/00 Claudio Reyna

In what was the loftiest all-around season of his time in Europe, Captain America played four different positions (including right back!), scored six goals (including the one that qualified Rangers for the Champions League group phase!), played nine European matches in total (including two against his son's future club in the UEFA Cup!) and became the first American (but not the last!) to celebrate a Scottish double. It was a wee bit o' fun.

For Reyna, we have the stand-up tie decider against Parma in the final round of Champions League qualifying. Hell, why not watch the entire first leg highlight package.

98/99 Kasey Keller

This was another photo finish between the netminder and Stewart (whose seven goals and six helpers couldn't save NAC from the drop). This time, Keller edged it out for his last campaign at Leicester City. He finished tied for third on the Prem's clean sheet chart and was sixth in the league in saves. The USMNT legend also starred in a back stretch 4-0-4 run that secured safety for the Foxes and backstopped the club to the League Cup final (which they lost 1-0 on a Spurs stoppage time tally).

For the Keller clip, we have some sort of ancient profile segment that contains a few saves from this very season (both saves against Tottenham and the second stop against Manchester United in the reel).


Spoiler alert: These AAotY's were the last of both Stewart's and Keller's careers (hint, hint).

- Greg Seltzer

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