With the 2018 Major League Soccer season just around the corner, it’s time for Massive Report to begin the season preview.
On Thursday, MR took a look back at the offseason and graded the incoming transfers of Columbus Crew SC. Now we look forward with a positional breakdown, beginning in the back with the goalkeepers.
There’s no question who the Black & Gold’s No. 1 is in goal for 2018 as Steffen returns for his second season as the starter for Crew SC.
In his first year as Columbus’ goalkeeper, Steffen finished with a 1.44 goals against average, conceding 49 goals and making 98 saves in the regular season while playing every minute for the Black & Gold.
Steffen really shined when the lights were the brightest, standing on his head in the MLS Cup playoffs. The 22 year old made two penalty kick saves in the shootout win over Atlanta United in his first of two postseason shutouts, helping Crew SC to the Eastern Conference Finals.
After spending time with the U.S. Men’s National Team this offseason, expectations are higher for Steffen in 2018. Arguably the best young goalkeeper in MLS, Steffen should carry the momentum of the postseason and offseason into this new year. So far in the preseason, Steffen has done just that, looking like what fans became accustomed to last year.
After not bringing back either backup goalkeeper from a season ago, Crew SC had multiple holes to fill behind Steffen. The Black & Gold rectified this problem on Dec. 3 in a trade with the LA Galaxy for Kempin.
Despite playing eight seasons in MLS, split between the Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City, Kempin has just 14 league appearances and two shutouts, but that’s more than Columbus’ two backups a year ago combined.
If Steffen is unable to play for some reason — national team duty or injury — Berhalter should have faith that Kempin can do the job as a shot stopper. The question will be how well he can possess the ball, something this group will certainly be working on this preseason.
After he was drafted by Crew SC 71st overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, Ketterer did not see the field during his rookie season. The club declined his option following the year, but Ketterer re-signed with the Black & Gold in January.
Ketterer appears to be in a similar situation behind Steffen and Kempin, but is in a battle for the No. 2 spot. So far, Ketterer, who earned the right to be back with the club, has demonstrated ability fans did not get to see last year.
Crew SC’s first-round pick is in an interesting position. Coming out of Virginia Tech, Lundgaard has the pedigree to be a professional keeper, but will have his work cut out for him with the Black & Gold.
Lundgaard started 70 matches in his four-year career with the Hokies, posting a 1.28 goals against average. The questions are, does Berhalter keep four goalkeepers and, if so, what happens to the likely two to three that don’t see any playing time in 2018?