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2015 Player Profiles: Jeff Attinella shows quality in front of mixed defense

Goalkeeper Jeff "Water Gato" Attinella didn't have a stand-out season, but it wasn't terrible either.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Being the backup goalkeeper for one of the best in the league can be rough.

"The situation he is in is not an easy one," RSL right back Tony Beltran said. "He has to prepare for a few games a year. Obviously Nick is the best goalie in the league and Jeff has no illusions about that, but every time he's asked to step in, whether that's a planned departure for Nick or unexpectedly, he's stoic in goal."

Chris Kamrani - Salt Lake Tribune, July 17, 2015 | Jeff Attinella Steps Up

Jeff Attinella will almost certainly make an impact in 2016.  In addition to being a decent backup for Nick Rimando; he's fairly inexpensive with only a $60k hit against the salary cap, and at only 27 years old has plenty of potential.  While our 3rd string keeper, Lalo Fernandez is also on the low end of both salary and age, Attinella is still well ahead of him.

At the start of 2015, Nick Rimando was once again expected to be away with the US Men's National Team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and Jeff was expected to fill Nick's shoes (which everyone should by now admit is a long-shot for almost any Goal Keeper to live up to); and while he played the same number of games from 2014 (10, with a 2-4-4 record), his form did dip.

Of the 10 games he played in 2015 year, his record stands at 3-6-1; but looking back at those games, two of the losses were the final games of the season vs Dallas & Seattle when we had already been eliminated from the playoffs, and many of the regular 'starters' weren't playing.  During Nick Rimando's Gold Cup absence he went 2-3-1, saving 24 of 39 shots on goal.  This of course was during a major crisis for RSL with both Chris Schuler and Jamison Olave out with injury.  Overall for the season he saved 62.5% of the shots faced which is marginally better than New England's Bobby Shuttleworth, equal to Toronto's Joe Bendik, and just behind Orlando's Donovan Ricketts.

One need only remember that in the games he did play he managed some amazing saves winning the MLS Save of the Week 3 times and was nominated for most of the games he played.

Going into 2016, I would expect Attinella to play roughly the same number of games (10), possibly as many as 15.  His starts are most likely to be in the early half of the season while RSL's schedule is congested with CONCACAF Champion's League knockout rounds, as well as US Open Cup games.  Rely on him to start all of the early US Open Cup games, and should we make a deep run in the USOC, he'll certainly fill in for Rimando for some regular season games after short-turnaround due to travel, as well as potential absences due to the occasional USMNT call-up. Jeff has shown to be a very capable shot-stopper when needed, but without some good defenders in front of him, he will certainly not be able to prevent every shot from going in.