CARSON, Calif. - The life of an MLS League Pool goalkeeper is never easy.
You get bounced around from team to team, never sure of where you’ll be playing the next day. Sometimes you’re given as little as 24 hours notice before you’re sent across the country to join a squad that needs you.
And all the while you’re expected to be in top form. Daunting, to say the least.
It’s a life that pool ‘keeper Kevin Guppy knows well, but he has been given a break from it in recent weeks. The Cal State Northridge alum has been stationed at Chivas USA since the Goats’ usual backup Dan Kennedy underwent biceps surgery on Aug. 13 and has enjoyed the opportunity for some stability.
“It’s been a great experience,” Guppy said of training with Chivas USA. “Coming from the league pool, teams don’t really pay you much mind. But coming out here and having to contribute and having to be counted on as part of the team has been a good experience. They’ve welcomed me to the team like I’m a part of it, and I feel welcome.”
[inline_node:313452]With Kennedy still recovering from his procedure, Guppy has stepped in to become the Red-and-White’s full-fledge backup ‘keeper. He attends every practice and is included in all of the team’s drills and scrimmages.
“I definitely have improved here,” Guppy said. “I’ve been getting reps with the team on the small-sided games and I’ve gotten a couple of scrimmages. Getting that game experience that you can’t really get when you’re just doing goalkeeper drills has been great.”
While Guppy has, in many ways, become part of Chivas USA over the last two months, he hasn’t totally escaped his job as a league pool goalkeeper. Last Saturday night, for example, when the rest of the Goats were likely resting before Sunday’s SuperClasico, Guppy was in Seattle, serving as a backup in the Sounders’ game against Toronto.
“I got the notification on Wednesday or Thursday and I was out of here,” he said of the Seattle match. “They gave me enough time to mentally prepare, so I was able to get through it alright. It was only a couple of hours away. If it had been a different timezone, maybe I’d feel different about it now.”
Having been with Chivas USA for so long, Guppy had mixed emotions about Seattle’s clash with Toronto. Who do you cheer for when you don’t really belong to either side?
“I’m sitting on the bench with the Seattle guys, so obviously I’m going to root for them,” Guppy said. “Obviously you support the team you’re playing with. At one point, I was warming up during the second half and Seattle scored a goal and I clapped. The Seattle guys all gave me a hard time because I guess it was a pretty unemotional clap. They were like, ‘You don’t have to clap if you don’t want to.’ It was really funny.”
Two hours later, Guppy was back on a plane to return to Chivas USA for Sunday’s SuperClasico. His return home was not without incident, however.
“It started off easy,” he said, smiling. “The flight was only a couple of hours. I was going to get back at 11 p.m., but I had a flat tire when I got back. I tried to drive on it, but it was making all kinds of weird noises so I had to pull over and change it. I didn’t get home until 1:30 a.m.”
Through all the craziness of being a pool goalkeeper, Guppy continues to wear a smile. He’s happy to be playing and is eager to improve with the hope that he’ll secure a permanent roster spot sometime soon.
“It’s pretty hectic,” said Guppy of his position, “But that’s my job.”