FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – You know how the American soccer system has a history of producing world-class goalkeepers? Well, times have changed.
If this year's SuperDraft is any indication, foreign goalkeepers are ready to take the MLS jobs that once waited All-American netminders – and we literally mean All-American. Three of the top five prospects from the collegiate ranks in this year's SuperDraft are Jamaican, Dutch and French.
1. Andre Blake (Connecticut) – The last goalkeeper taken with one of the top 3 picks in the SuperDraft was named Brad Guzan (2005) and today he’s one of the Premier League’s top netminders and he’s heading to the World Cup. But the buzz surrounding Blake is on another level and he proved why at the Combine: There’s simply no ball he can’t get to. Range: Top 3
2. Kees Heemskerk (College of Charleston) – Two starting goalkeepers in one SuperDraft? Yep, it could happen. Blake may be the prodigy, but Heemskerk is a professional goalkeeper biding his time in college. He was made in the Ajax academy system back in Holland and as you’d expect, there’s nothing he can't do in goal. The international tag is the only drawback. But Blake has it, too. Range: Second round
3. John Berner (SIU Edwardsville) – St. Louis has given American soccer plenty of great field players, but when did the last great goalkeeper come from the soccer hotbed? Berner’s the real deal. The experts will tell you: You can’t teach presence. Berner owns his box and the air above it. He’ll make an MLS roster. Range: Third round
4. Raphael Ville (UAB) – Another international goalkeeper. Ville is a Frenchman who emerged from one of the world’s best soccer schools: France’s Clairefontaine Academy. And he also played in the Olympique Lyon system. He has a pro’s decision-making capacity and his feet are so good, he'd be equally competent as a field player. One scout had high praise: “He’s better than several goalkeeper who are starting in MLS.” Range: Third round
5. Brian Billings (Bradley) – You know the type of goalkeeper you don’t notice until he’s called into action to make the big-time save. Billings fits that bill. He relishes coming through when it counts with explosive athleticism. The reason he didn’t win goalkeeper of the year in his conference (Missouri Valley)? Berner (No. 3 above) was in that league. Range: Fourth round
Others to keep an eye on: John McCarthy (LaSalle), Rafael Diaz (St. John’s), Jake Feener (Seattle), Fabian Otte (NC State), Ryan Caballero (Gonzaga), Sean Lewis (Oakland), Trevor Spanenberg (Missouri State)
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