After a year in which much of the conversation was around life without its star goalkeeper, you might be forgiven for forgetting a little about Andrew Putna.
After all, he had played little over his RSL tenure, owing to his backup position behind Nick Rimando. He played second fiddle to David Ochoa at Real Monarchs, though that’s largely owing to a need to sit on the first-team bench.
All that placed Putna at the back of our minds, with the hot prospect and the retiring star taking the front seat. But he’s under contract for 2020 at Real Salt Lake, and we have plenty of cause to think he could play a big role with the team moving forward.
But if that’s going to happen, we need more data. Right now, we have just under 600 minutes of MLS action with which to judge Putna, and we have under 2,000 minutes of USL action over three years with Real Monarchs.
Who is he, then?
Putna’s a strong shot-stopper. I don’t think there’s any doubt there. His RSL minutes showed that, as slight as they were. Further, I don’t know that we were able to garner much about his distribution from those minutes, nor can we really speak about how he performs over the course of a season.
There’s a certain amount of risk involved in signing a goalkeeper who hasn’t played consistent minutes inside a career. Consistency breeds — or it can, at least — confidence, and that’s very much the currency of a goalkeeper. Further, that confidence must be shared between the goalkeeper and the defense, as otherwise, it becomes easy for responsibilities to overlap in a poor way.
So if we do go with Putna as our number-one goalkeeper, there’s a lot to be discovered. Is he the sort of player that could rise to the challenge? Or is he simply a reliable backup option behind a consistent first-choice goalkeeper?
There’s no way to know that without trying it. The big question remains: Is that what Real Salt Lake is going to do in 2020?