To be a soccer goalkeeper, you have to have a bit of a different mindset than other players you play with. You have to be ready to throw your body in front of shots rocketed at you in order to keep the ball out of the net, but there’s more to it than that. You also have to be willing to wait your turn a lot of the time.
That has been the case for Logan Ketterer, Columbus Crew SC’s third-string goalkeeper who the Black & Gold drafted in the fourth round (71st overall) of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Coming in last year, he watched as Zack Steffen won the starting job over Brad Stuver and then watched some more throughout the season as Steffen played all 34 regular season Major League Soccer matches and Stuver played in the one U.S. Open Cup game and the international friendly.
But that’s just the life of a backup goalkeeper at the professional level.
“I think goalkeepers understand that a little bit more verses a field player,” Ketterer told Massive Report. “There’s only one goalkeeper position. So I think that’s an easier transition for most goalkeepers to understand I believe.”
Circumstances kept Ketterer from playing as a rookie, but Crew SC’s current goalkeeper situation could see him make his debut on Wednesday night against the Chicago Fire in the Open Cup fourth round.
With Steffen away on international duty, veteran backup Jon Kempin was in the net for Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Toronto FC. Columbus play again this Saturday against the New York Red Bulls, another game Steffen will miss while with the U.S. National Team. The start against the Red Bulls will almost certainly go to Kempin again, meaning Ketterer is the likely netminder for the Black & Gold on Wednesday night.
“It’s exciting,” the 24 year old said of his potential debut at MAPFRE Stadium. “I’ve been out there warming up a couple of times and a couple close calls here and there, but I think it will be exciting to get that first time to come out.”
And it has been a long time coming. The last time Ketterer stepped on the field in an official capacity was in the first round of the 2016 MVC Men’s Soccer Championship with Bradley University. That game ended in a 2-0 loss for the Braves. Since that point, he has trained day in and day out and only seen action in Crew SC’s scrimmages against college and USL teams, games he still takes very seriously.
“Any time you put on a jersey, your mind has to switch and say, ‘Hey, now it’s not training any more. Now you’ve got to be perfect and you’ve got to play how we want to play.’ I think that’s big,” he said of the friendlies at Crew SC’s training ground. “You just have to use every experience you have to build on with what you want to do in the game.”
But on Wednesday, assuming he gets the call, the situation will be different. Ketterer will get to play at MAPFRE Stadium in front of his fiancée, Courtney, who just moved to Columbus, and his parents, Brian and Denise, who will travel in from Racine, Wisconsin. There will be other fans in the seats cheering for the Black & Gold. It will be Ketterer’s first real match in nearly two years.
While it’s normal for any player making his professional debut to be nervous, Ketterer understands he has to channel that energy and use it properly. He’s trained with Steffen, Stuver, Kempin and Columbus goalkeeper coach Pat Onstad for a year and a half now, looking forward to this moment.
“I think it’s just going to be get those early nerves out. Just relax,” Ketterer said. “I’ve done this every day for the last two years. I think it’s just getting comfortable. I know I can play how we want to play, I know I can make the saves I need to make and I think that’s the most important thing.”