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Best of 2011: Keller's tribute the Moment of the Year

As the Best of 2011 comes to a close on Jan. 2 on MLSsoccer.com, we continue to look back at the year that was and honor the best, worst and most memorable moments of 2011.

And here, thanks to managing editor Jonah Freedman, is a look at what fans voted as the Moment of the Year: Kasey Keller's tribute game in Seattle.

He may have played only three seasons in MLS, but he’s one of the most beloved figures in league history. Don’t believe it? Maybe 64,140 fans can convince you.

The love on display for Kasey Keller’s regular-season Seattle Sounders farewell at CenturyLink Field on Oct. 15 wasn’t just the third-biggest standalone crowd ever to see an MLS game, it was also the runaway winner for the 2011 Moment of the Year as voted on by fans.

Keller’s emotional moment earned more than 22,000 votes on MLSsoccer.com – nearly 50 percent of all the tallies – to take home the honors. Coming in second was the Timbers Army opening JELD-WEN Field with their singing of the national anthem in April (31 percent of the vote), followed by the LA Galaxy winning MLS Cup 2011 (19 percent).

That the top vote-getter involved a Seattle moment isn’t that much of a surprise – Sounders fans are easily the most vocal commenters on MLSsoccer.com. But Keller’s reach goes far beyond his native Washington.

He is the first American goalkeeper to become a starter in the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and the German Bundesliga. He’s a legend at Millwall FC and Borussia Mönchengladbach, two of the seven stops on his storied European career.

At the international level, the four-time World Cup veteran has the most caps (102) of any ‘keeper in US national team history, ranks first in victories (53) and clean sheets (47) and was named US Soccer’s Athlete of the Year three times.

That he was able to end his career in the Pacific Northwest was just the icing on the cake. Luckily for the fans, the 41-year-old put on some of that old magic in his Seattle finale, making seven stops in a come-from-behind win over San Jose and capping a Goalkeeper of the Year-winning season.

For 23 years as a pro, Keller gave all he could to American soccer. There’s not a stadium big enough for fans to pay their respects.