Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Glove Train

You had to know we weren't done with keeper rolls on the big award. All aboard!

97/98 Kasey Keller

Earnie Stewart was a shade off his usual standard during this season, leaving David Regis as arguably the American field player (by marriage, at this point... he wasn't a citizen or a USMNT player until the end of the season) that enjoyed the most solid campaign. Then there was Keller, who enjoyed what was probably his best EPL season with Leicester. He was second in the league in shutouts with 14 and third in save percentage at 78% (sitting just behind UEFA Goalkeeper of the year Peter Schmeichel in both categories). Six of those clean sheets keyed road victories, including a famous 1-0 win at Old Trafford against the Manchester United team that would take home a treble the following year.

96/97 Kasey Keller

We could talk about Thomas Dooley, who was a back-up handyman for UEFA Cup winners Schalke. Of course, we could talk about Stewart, who banged home nine goals in a season constantly interrupted by international duty. We could even talk about Chad Deering, who held down defensive midfield while adding five goals as Wolfsburg earned promotion to the Bundesliga. Keller narrowly tipped it in his favor by becoming the first American netminder to pilot his club to an English cup crown when Leicester City rallied to top Middlesbrough in a tense two-leg League Cup final (see below for highlights of the decisive replay). He also posted nine shutouts for a mid-table Foxes side that, with him walking the line, seemed to be on the way up (until the transfer vultures predictably came). And in case you aren't keeping score, this retroactively makes him the first guy to three-peat the AAotY. Legend.

95/96 Brad Friedel

Juergen Sommer had his finest season (second in the Prem in saves) despite QPR getting relegated, David Wagner was a super sub for third place Schalke, Ian Feuer was named Player of the Season for a Luton Town side that dropped from the English second flight, and Joe-Max Moore struck for double digits on a weak FC Nürnberg side that fell out of the 2. Bundesliga, while the ever effective Stewart missed half the Eredivisie slate through injuries. That left Big Brad as the clear choice. Friedel notched 12 clean sheets as the Istanbul giants finished fourth, and had three more along the way to backstopping the Lions to a Turkish Cup triumph against arch nemesis Fenerbahçe (who he shut out at home twice on the campaign).

Quick note: The clip below is set to open with the two-leg tie knotted at 1-1 heading into extra time at the end of the away decider.

- Greg Seltzer

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