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CONCACAF Champions League Final - Real Salt Lake vs. Monterrey - The Keepers


In order the help all of you get ready for the CONCACAF Champions League finals, I worked with the editorial staff of FMF State of Mind to take a position by position look at both the RSL and Monterrey rosters.  Here is part one of the series, we of course are starting with the men in goal for each side.

Here is what they had to say about the Monterrey keepers:

While their first choice XI might not contain quite the talent of Cruz Azul, Santos Laguna, or UANL Tigres, Monterrey are almost certainly the deepest team in the Mexican Primera. Despite that, the only position where they're not stacked with multiple starting-quality players is goalkeeper. It doesn't matter much, though, because the starter is arguably the best keeper in Mexico, and he's been an ironman since taking over the starting job before he could legally drink in the United States.

The man I'm referring to is Jonathan Orozco, a player who inexplicably has only one cap for the Mexican national team. On current form, consistency, and natural talent, he compares favorably with Luis Michel, Jose de Jesus Corona, Oscar Perez, Alfredo Talavera, and even Memo Ochoa, all of whom appear to be above him in the Mexican national team pecking order.

At just 24 years of age, Orozco is already an incredibly accomplished player. He's started well over 100 professional games for Monterrey in his young career, helping his team to two titles in the Mexican Primera. Additionally, he's been the starter in two tournaments where Monterrey ended the regular season with the best record, but did not win the title in Liguilla.

Orozco is probably most noted for his acrobatic shot stopping, but he's equally adept as an organizer of the defense, and he's not afraid to rush off his line to make a play. At 6'1" with great leadership abilities and great athleticism for a keeper, he is, quite simply, the total package. Unfortunately, on a team loaded with talent, he often goes overlooked. Even if Real Salt Lake outplay the Monterrey defense, they'll have to do more than just put decent shots on frame to beat Orozco.

after the jump I break down the RSL keepers:

Real Salt Lake- Keepers:

Perhaps the position with the most depth on the RSL roster and rated as one of the strongest stable of keepers in Major League Soccer, but one that seldom sees the team look past the 2009 MLS Cup MVP, but one that has perhaps the two most able backups in the league:

Nick Rimando (810 minutes 1.44 GAA):
While Nick Rimando lacks the size of many prototypical keepers in MLS, he has over his career proven to be a real difference maker. Since joining RSL in 2007 he has been one of the pieces that RSL has built around to take the club from "lovable losers" to where they are today, a history making MLS team. If you ask me, there is no bigger testimony to Nick's abilities on the pitch as both a player and leader than what has happened to DC United the last several years since he has been gone.

Nick's strengths are his cat-like agility and his knowledge and vision of the game. He is able to position himself to make hard saves look ordinary, and often he will make impossible saves happen as if they are just another play. Nick has played a majority of the Champions League matches for RSL and boasts a 5-2-2 record in group and knockout play. Nick is simply a player that RSL expects to keep them in every match, and he does just that.

Kyle Reynish (90 minutes 1.00 GAA):
Kyle would be fighting for starting minutes anywhere else in MLS but with the stellar Rimando in goal he has had to play the backup role, but RSL fans take great comfort in knowing that when he is called on to step into the first team that the RSL goal is still in great hands. At 6'3" his size is an advantage for the 2007 Draft pick. In 2010 he saw action in 6 matches across all competition and put up a 1-1-4 record with a 1.20 GAA.

Tim Melia (0 minutes):
Tim joined RSL in 2010 and has become the teams 3rd keeper, he spent a majority of the 2010 season on loan and posted a 12-4-3 record with the Charelston Battery and had a 1.19 GAA while with them on loan. We are unlikely to see Tim in action in the Champions League Final unless there is a major injury to one of the other keepers.

RSL's depth in goal is great and as teams have seen from Nick Rimando over the years he is able to make some saves that people wouldn't expect a MLS keeper to make, the value of our guys in net comes both from their ability to stop shots but also to help control the match and provide leadership to the defensive efforts of the team.

It hasn't mattered who is in goal for RSL in Champions League play as only 3 times has an opponent been able to score more than a single goal, the RSL keepers do their job of keeping the team in every match and do it very well.

Well there you have it a tidy little look at the men who will be minding the nets in the Champions League Finals.  Up next will be a look at the defensive units for each team.