HOUSTON – Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall was a contract signature away from possibly being on the other side of Sunday’s MLS Cup final.
Hall was actually drafted by the Galaxy with the 44th overall pick in the 2007 SuperDraft out of San Diego State, but the relationship didn’t last long. Hall was itching for something different and what he called “a great life experience,” which he eventually got for two years with Danish side Esbjerg.
The playing time, however, was sparse. He played in a combined two games in 2007 and 2008 in Denmark and returned stateside before the 2009 season, when a fateful connection he made while training with the Galaxy led him to Houston.
Current Dynamo goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley remembered Hall after serving in the same capacity with the Galaxy in 2007, and Houston needed a goalkeeper. In fact, it was Hanley who was instrumental in scouting Hall in college and giving him his first shot at being a professional.
Luckily for the Dynamo and Hall, Hanley has a long memory.
“Dominic [Kinnear] called me to come to Houston; he said, 'We need a keeper.' and I said, ‘What about [Tally]?’” Hanley said. “He said, ‘I know him, and I like him,’ and we started the process.”
After playing understudy to Houston goalkeeping legend Pat Onstad for two years, Hall stood out in his first season as a starter this year. He quickly went from a preseason question mark to a reliable game changer, and now he’s the man in net for Houston’s first title shot since Onstad backstopped the club to the 2007 MLS Cup title.
Hall has played every minute this season for the Dynamo, recording 117 saves (second in the league) and eight shutouts. He’s also come up big on the grand stages all season, including standout performances in 1-1 draws in weeks two and three at Seattle (6 saves) and New York (8 saves).
“It’s almost like he says, ‘Bring me the biggest game you can,'" Handley said, "and, you know, I think he does better in those situations."
Those early, big-game showings and Houston’s playoff push have put Hall in the discussion for a potential US national team call-up.
“I can’t see how you don’t call him in,” defender Bobby Boswell said. “As far as shot blocking goes, he’s world class. He’s shown that time and time again. Hans Backe saw that and that’s why he brought him into the All-Star game and I’m hoping Jurgen Klinsmann sees it and brings him in [the national team]. I’m not worried about Tally getting a call up because it’s only a matter of when.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.