CARSON, Calif. – Twice the Los Angeles Galaxy won MLS Cup and twice goalkeeper Kevin Hartman played a key role in doing so.
Hartman, a Galaxy fixture from 1997 to 2006, is still revered around Home Depot Center even though he’s been gone for several years.
“(Hartman was) not around when I was here,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said, “but obviously I think Kevin Hartman ... to this day is well-respected and admired by our fan base.”
Instead of trying to help the Galaxy win another MLS Cup, Hartman will try and prevent the club from doing so. Now the first-choice ‘keeper with FC Dallas, Hartman and his side will meet the Galaxy in Sunday’s Western Conference Championship.
At 36, Hartman is still a force in goal.
“The last part of the year he’s been the best goalie in the league,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said.
Donovan is one of two current Galaxy players who celebrated the 2005 MLS Cup title with Hartman. Along with Todd Dunivant, Donovan was a key player as Hartman started 31 games that season for LA. Hartman picked up two shutouts in the run to the MLS title, including a 120-minute shutout of New England in the title game.
[inline_node:321850]Following the 2006 season, Hartman was dealt to Kansas City where he was a starter for three seasons. FC Dallas picked up Hartman when he fell out of favor with the Wizards and is now within reach of his third MLS Cup title.
“I certainly know him well. A few guys know him well,” Donovan said. “More than anything I’m happy for him at this point. He went through a tough patch and my guess would be that Kansas City heavily regrets that decision.”
Hartman picked up a knee injury in September and was unable to play in FC Dallas’ final six games of the regular season. Still, the lost time at the end of the campaign didn't prevent him from being named a finalist for the 2010 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, an award that went to Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
Even though Hartman returned in time for the playoffs, Donovan said his ex-teammate is still being slowed by the injury.
“He’s certainly not 100 percent as you can see in the game and our job is to test him — but he’s playing really well.”
No matter what, though, Galaxy players and coaches are happy for Hartman.
“I think the world of Kevin. I’ve known him for years,” Arena said. “He’s a good guy, a classy guy. I’m sure our fans will be happy to see him again. We’re happy for him and for the fact that he’s back in the playoffs and I wish him the best – not that much – but it’s good to have him back.”