Chivas 'keeper coach the man behind Kennedy's rise

CARSON, Calif. – A year ago, Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy was a guy fighting for a job.

Today, he’s a guy who’s largely considered one of MLS’ finest goalkeepers. And one of the biggest factors in his success has been the tutelage of Chivas USA’s third-year goalkeeper coach Daniel González. 

A former Argentine youth international, the 50-year-old González (above, middle) places Kennedy and the rest of Chivas’ goalkeepers on a strict training regimen focusing on “quality drills over quantity.” It follows a routine that he first learned while serving as a backup to famed Albicelestes ‘keeper Daniel Carnevali at Rosario Central.

SAVE: Kennedy stunner preserves shutout

González’s program has done wonders for Kennedy, who has become well-known throughout the league for his penchant for acrobatic saves and has staked an ironclad claim on the Goats No. 1 shirt.

“We have a really good understanding of what it takes to do the work to be prepared for games in this league,” Kennedy told MLSsoccer.com about his relationship with González. “Every week is different because you’re always dealing with different elements. We have an open dialogue which makes it easier for me to get out of training what I think need to get out of it and what he thinks I need to get out of it.”

Before blossoming into one of the best goalkeepers in the league, Kennedy dealt with a pair of injuries that ruled him out for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, preventing him from winning the starting job.

The low point was a tear in the long head tendon of his left biceps in 2009. González was instrumental in helping the goalkeeper regain his confidence, work through rehab and eventually get to where he is today.

“I was trying to make sure that his head was right and understand that it was only a temporary setback and that he’d come back stronger than ever,” González told MLSsoccer.com. “I think he needed confidence and he just needed to work on everything that we talked about. Dan is mentally a very strong individual, he’s a super professional.”

Kennedy is the latest successful goalkeeper to serve as a protégé of the Argentine taskmaster. During his 16-year coaching career, González has taught three of the league’s current goalkeeper coaches in Ian Feuer (LA Galaxy), David Kramer (Colorado Rapids) and Preston Burpo (Montreal Impact). He’s also tutored a pair of former US internationals, former MetroStars ‘keeper Jonny Walker and current Everton goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann – who was named to two US World Cup rosters in 2006 and 2010. 

An impressive list that González admits is “not a bad résumé for an old guy.”

“I’ve been around the league a long time and I’ve coached a lot of guys so I’m very proud to see them develop to be coaches in the league,” said González. “I’m sure that there’s something’s that I did with them and I learned some things from them, too. During my career, I’ve always looked to them and listened to them to get bits of pieces of what they like and what kind of drills and exercises that we did, which has helped my own teaching.”

Not one to rest on his laurels, González is already deeply involved in the Chivas USA Academy program as he tries to develop a potential successor to Kennedy. The program has already had some success as Under-18 goalkeeper Jake McGuire was recently called up to Tab Ramos’ US Under-20 national team camp.

“It’s a good tool for me to keep an eye on the goalkeepers that we have coming up,” said González. “I also want to make sure that we are always saturated with good goalkeepers.”

Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at adam.m.serrano@gmail.com