CARSON, Calif – Take one look at Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and you can see that he’s been a man on a mission this year.
That mission? To backstop Chivas USA into a contender.
Throughout the season Kennedy has been forced to make numerous big saves to keep the Rojiblancos in matches, and Saturday’s tilt against the New York Red Bulls was no different. Kennedy made four saves to help his side to their fifth shutout of the year, securing a 0-0 draw which helped the club extend their four-game unbeaten streak.
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“[Kennedy] was very good again, his confidence continues to grow week after week, he continues to make such crucial plays for us,” said head coach Robin Fraser. “The fact of the matter is that we want to play so well that our goalkeeper isn’t the first player that we talk about, but having said that he has been very good and very solid.”
Kennedy’s finest effort came in the 25th minute of play when Red Bulls attacker Joel Lindpere broke a through the left side of the Rojiblancos’ defense and forced a diving stop.
During the second half, as New York continued to push for the go-ahead goal, Kennedy was again forced to make stops. First he kept Juan Agudelo’s header out of the net in the 67th minute, then he stymied several RBNY forays into the box with superior positioning and command of the area.
“I’ve finally got a good run of games and I feel like I’m seeing the game well. I think that me and the defenders are gelling,” said Kennedy. “We’re on the same page and when I can read what my defenders are going to do then it’s easier for me to cut down angles and make plays.”
Kennedy’s confidence has not just produced saves, but a willingness to be vocal and organize a Chivas USA backline that remains a work in progress. Dealing with such a young and impressionable defense has at times forced Kennedy and veteran defender Heath Pearce to dish out a little wisdom on the fly at times.
One such moment came against New York when rookie defender Zarek Valentin did not make a defensive stop, resulting in a RBNY shot. Kennedy ran up and had a few words for his rookie defender.
Following the match, Valentin admitted that he had never seen that side of Kennedy, but when asked about his powwow, Kennedy couldn’t help but laugh.
“We’ve given up late points in the past and I was making sure that we didn’t do that again,” said a chuckling and self-assured Kennedy.
For this weekend, mission accomplished.
Adam Serrano writes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano