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Who is the best GK in MLS for the 1st half of the season?

Now fellow Soapboxers, I've been "chompin' at the bit" to write something concerning the goal keepers in Major League Soccer.  I understand that the MLS is rated something like the 88th best futbol league in the world, but I just don't see it!  Our league is very competitive and on top of that...I think we have some of the finest goal keepers in the world today.  I know how people think that all the top goal keepers are in the other futbol leagues throughout the world, but that is not the case here.

We have a couple of GKs who I think are ready to take it to the next "proverbial" level!  I will give you Soapboxers some insight on the three or four GKs that I think are above and beyond the rest in MLS.  I would love to hear your insight and opinions concerning these particular GKs and if you have a different GK you love...let us know!

These GKs have been placed in alphabetical order so as not to release to you in the beginning who I think is the best GK in MLS:

Kevin Hartman, FC Dallas:  Hartman has played in 11 games this season and all 990 minutes in net.  He has saved 32 of 39 shots on goal and given up only 7 goals; which constitutes a 0.64 goals against average (GAA).  He has five (5) shutouts on the season and his record this year is 6-1-4.  I have to admit I have only seen the RSL game when he played in net.

William Hesmer, Columbus Crew:  Hesmer has played in 16 games this season and all 1440 minutes in net.  He has saved 51 of 64 shots on goal and given up 13 goals; which constitutes a 0.81 GAA.  He has seven (7) shutouts for the season and his record this year is 9-3-4.  I have to admit that I have only seen maybe two of his 16 games this year.

Donovan Ricketts, L.A. Galaxy:  Ricketts has played in 17 games this season and all 1530 minutes in net.  He has saved 48 of 58 shots on goal and only given up an amazing 10 goals; which constitutes a league leading 0.59 GAA.  He also has a league leading nine (9) shutouts for the season and his record is 12-2-3.  I watched the ESPN MLS Game of the Week on Wednesday and saw him give up 20% of his goals (2) on the year against a formidable San Jose Earthquake squad.

Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake:  Rimando has played in 16 games this season and all 1440 minutes in net.  He has saved 47 of 60 shots on goal and only given up 13 goals; which consitutes a 0.81 GAA.  He has seven (7) shutouts for the season and his record is 9-4-3.  I have seen nearly every game of Rimando's season and he has played very, very well.

After the jump I discuss with you all who I think is the top GK in MLS.

If you broke it down by sheer numbers then Hartman from Dallas FC would be the over-all winner.  Out of his team's six (6) wins, five (5) of those have been shutouts with Hartman in goal.  That calculates out to 83% of FC Dallas' wins have been by shutout.  Also, he is the only GK with single digit goals against.  But his achilles heal this year is that he has only played in 11 games and that is a big deal when you consider that the two guys that I feel are better than him have played many more games. 

Those two GKs that I am refering to are the Galaxy's Ricketts and RSL's Rimando.  These two GKs have played above and beyond this year. 

Let's start with my hometown goal keeper RSL's Nick Rimando who has played very well this year.  He has had an outstanding season in goal.  But, if you talk to him, the first words out of his mouth every time is...his backline defenders.  Meaning, he praises his defenders more than people praise him.  He has three of the best in MLS this year, Defenders Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert and Nat Borchers.  And with those defenders and Rimando playing along side each other for the past three (3) years, they have "jelled" into one of the best backlines in MLS.  Olave and Rimando both were selected for the All-Star game this year because of their outstanding performances for the 1st half of the season.  Rimando has also had a 566-minute shutout streak this year, 3rd longest such run for a goal keeper in League history.

We talk now about Jamaican-born Donovan Ricketts of the 1st place L.A. Galaxy who has played about as well if not better than anyone else this season!  He is like a human wall back there in goal for the Galaxy.  Let's not forget about the Galaxy's backline of Todd Dunivant, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez and the Brazilian Leonardo who have played like a well-oiled machine in front of Ricketts this year.  I watched the Galaxy/Earthquake game on Wednesday night and I thought it was going to be another shutout for Mr. Ricketts but that was not the case.  Like I stated above, I watched Ricketts give up 20% of his current total of goals against this season in that one game.  Plus, Ricketts is the #1 goal keeper for the 2010 All-Star game which is being held in Houston next Wednesday night.  The All-Starts are competing against one of the most popular and strongest futbol teams in the world...Manchester United!

There will be a warm place in my heart for Nick Rimando, maybe because I see him every game and I have seen him develop over the years as one of the best goal keepers in all of MLS.  But with all that said above, I have to give my nod to Mr. Ricketts for the best GK in MLS for the first half of the season.  He has played "lights out" with nine (9) of his 12 wins coming in shutout fashion; which is #1 in MLS.  His league leading 0.59 GAA doesn't hurt his ranking either. 

Who do you all think is the best?  Feel free to leave comments below.