Keller, Rosales, Win Goalkeeper, Newcomer of the Year Awards

Yesterday it was the LA Galaxy, today it was Seattle Sounders FC: the Pacific Northwest club became the second team in a row to take in two of Major League Soccer’s year-end awards on the same day.

Sounders FC backstop Kasey Keller and midfielder Mauro Rosales were named Goalkeeper and Newcomer of the Year, respectively, in voting by players, coaches, club administrators, and media members.

Keller, who retired at the end of the season, dropping the curtain on one of the best careers in U.S. soccer history, led MLS with a save percentage of 76.0 this year, while producing nine shutouts.

He helped the Sounders to the league’s second-best regular-season record (18-7-9) and to a third straight U.S. Open Cup championship.

Keller edged Philadelphia’s Faryd Mondragon and FC Dallas’s Kevin Hartman in the balloting.  (And we were happy to see Chivas USA’s Dan Kennedy sneak into the vote.)

Rosales, whose league-minimum salary of $42,000 made him the bargain of the year—if not the history of the league—led Seattle with 13 assists this season (in just 22 starts). The Argentine winger also scored five goals, and almost certainly would have had more of both if knee injuries hadn’t caused him to miss games in September and October.

Seattle might have had a longer playoff run, too, if not for Rosales’s October MCL injury, which was a re-injury of a knock he took late in the Sounders’ 3-0 win over DC United on Sept 17th.

Rosales defeated New York’s Luke Rodgers and Vancouver’s Eric Hassli in the vote.

While Keller will not be back next season, Rosales certainly will—at a much, much higher salary, of course.

And Seattle fans are probably salivating at the prospect of Rosales and a hopefully healthy Steve Zakuani manning their wings next season.

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Sounders FC Comes ThisClose to Miracle Rally

Even though they lost two players to injury in the first 20 minutes of the game, Seattle’s plan for rallying from a 3-0 aggregate deficit was on track against Real Salt Lake late in the second leg of their Western Conference semifinal last night at CenturyLink Field.

Sixty minutes in, they had scored two goals, and had the game exactly where they wanted it: They were up 2-0, piling on the pressure, and seemingly on the brink of getting the goal that would tie the aggregate score at three and force the series into extra time.

Lamar Neagle scored the second goal (Osvaldo Alonso got the first, from the penalty spot) and he came close to getting the third on several occasions during the home team’s furious push down the stretch.

They ultimately fell short, losing the series 3-2 on aggregate, and sending legendary U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller to his retirement a little earlier than he’d expected.

Click here to watch the highlights.

And here for Keller’s thoughts at the end of his 21-year career:

At Livestrong Sporting Park, Kansas City downed an injury-depleted Colorado side 2-0 to win their Eastern Conference semifinal 4-0 and advance to the conference final, which they will host, against either Philadelphia or Houston, on Sunday.

For more on both games, see here.

Seattle 0, Real Salt Lake 0: MLS Suffers Midweek Goal Drought

Before we get to the game, let’s say this: Seattle fans are the best fans in Major League Soccer.

There are plenty of other excellent fan bases out there—the ones in Chicago, Toronto, and DC come to mind—but Seattle has the best, and really, it’s not even close.

Sounders fans pack Qwest Field for each and every game, 36,000 strong, and they maintain a steady thrumming atmosphere of singing, chanting (Left side of the stadium: “See-aaatttle!” Right side: “Soouuuunnderrrs!”), bleacher-bouncing, and cheering.

It’s absolutely first-rate, and any non-fan who flipped by the game on TV would definitely pause for a second to take stock of it.

That’s why last night’s match—the second consecutive scoreless draw in an MLS game with playoff implications—was even more disappointing than a scoreless draw usually is. The Seattle fans created a Cup-final-type atmosphere, and they deserved better.

The Don will not have been pleased.

The home fans did get the silver lining of a penalty save from veteran keeper Kasey Keller, who stopped the expert marksman World Cup-confident speedy Robbie Findley from the spot:

Despite the World Cup experience now under his belt, Findley is third on RSL’s depth chart at striker, behind Costa Rican Alvaro Saborio and Argentine Fabian Espindola, the latter of whom who was out injured last night.

RSL was missing two other starters in goalkeeper Nick Rimando and centerback Jamison Olave. Rookie Chris Schuler (out of Creighton) filled in capably for Olave. Seattle was missing right back James Riley and striker Blaise Nkufo.

Beyond Findley’s poorly taken PK, there were not many other solid scoring opportunities.

Seattle now has just one loss in its past nine matches, while RSL has just one defeat in its last 19. Both of these teams are going to the playoffs, count on it, and, despite last night’s goal-free display, both will be tough to beat.