Logan Ketterer: From Extreme Hardship call-up to Portland Timbers PK hero

Logan Ketterer might not have known all his teammates names yet, but he knew the guy staring down at him from 12 yards away. That face was a familiar one, belonging to Major League Soccer’s all-time leading scorer and Chris Wondolowski was primed to bury his 169th career goal from the penalty spot and equalize against the Portland Timbers in the 62nd minute Saturday night.

On paper, this was perhaps the ultimate mismatch — the Extreme Hardship Rule call-up vs. the King of Goals. 

But Ketterer was armed with two important weapons — knowledge and plenty of recent experience facing penalty kicks. 

“Unfortunately I’ve gotten into my own element a little bit seeing a lot of penalties in the past year or two,” Ketterer said after helping lead the Timbers to a 2-0 win over the Quakes. “It certainly helped as I’ve had plenty of experiences to draw on. The most important thing to think about as a goalkeeper is that you’re not expected to make the save so there’s really nothing that can go wrong. All you can do is push as hard as you can and make sure you don’t go off the line early. It was a great moment for me.”

Ketterer did just that, diving to his left to get his left hand on the low PK attempt. The ball caromed out for a corner, which allowed his new teammates a chance to hug their goalkeeper for his heroics.

“We knew Logan for about four days and he was able to come in and I think he played amazing,” midfielder Eryk Williamson said. “He’s a key part of this win and it’s good that he stepped up and played this game for us.”

Not only did Ketterer deny Wondolowski from the penalty spot, he made four saves to earn the clean sheet and help the Timbers secure three points against a Western Conference foe. 

“It’s not easy to step in a match like this and come in and have to deliver, and not only deliver, but he was also able to be very influential in so many ways,” Giovanni Savarese said of Ketterer. “They believed that today was going to be our day, in the way that we played, with having confidence with the ball and making sure that we did the things that we asked him to do in playing from the back, if he was secure and confident to be able to do it, and he was an important part of us today.”

It is the high point of a whirlwind seven days for Ketterer, who started the week training with El Paso Locomotive after a season-opening 1-1 draw with New Mexico United in the USL Championship on May 8.

His team had a bye week ahead of a May 22 showdown with Rio Grande Valley FC, which made the timing of Ketterer’s Extreme Hardship Rule call-up ideal. 

The Timbers lost Jeff Attinella to a season-ending injury in a 2-1 defeat to the Seattle Sounders last Sunday and Steve Clark was already sidelined due to injury. That left 19-year-old Hunter Sulte as the only rostered goalkeeper. 

Ketterer was originally selected by Columbus SC in the fourth round (71st overall) of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, making one appearance in his two seasons in Columbus in a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match against Chicago Fire FC in 2018.

Savarese credited El Paso and head coach Mark Lowry with the solid assist. 

"I have to say thank you to El Paso [Locomotive FC], say thank you to their coach Mark Lowry, because they were able to allow us to be able to have a goalkeeper that we needed today," Savarese said.

The signing was announced Thursday, but Ketterer, who arrived in Portland around midnight Tuesday, first trained with the Timbers on Wednesday morning. 

“Just trying to learn as many names, play styles, formations, and set-pieces so it’s been a lot of studying and a lot of video,” Ketterer said of trying to quickly get acclimated ahead of matchday. “It took a lot of hard work from the guys up front trying to get healthy and it’s a great end to a great week.”