OBETZ, Ohio — Columbus Left back Josh Gardner knows the barking voice of Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer (pictured above) very well. The former midfielder is still on a learning curve in his first season with the club so any advice he can get is welcomed.
“Every time he yells at me, I always get a lesson out of it,” Gardner jokingly said of Hesmer. “He’s helped me tremendously. He knows where he wants me to be.”
The truth is that while Hesmer is very vocal on the field, he has quietly put together an array of accomplishments that have gone virtually unnoticed. A 1-0 win at Vancouver on July 6 made him the 10th ‘keeper in MLS history to reach the 40-shutout plateau (39 with the Crew, one with Kansas City in 2006).
“It’s year-to-year trying to do [my] best and hopefully win a trophy,” Hesmer said. “The first few years [in Columbus] have been good so far.”
Among the select group, he has the best winning percentage (47 percent, 56-32-31) and is tied with Pat Onstad for the lowest goals against average (1.14).
“I think my shot stopping has gradually improved each year,” said the 29-year-old. “As you get older, you’ve got to be more and more of a leader and make sure you’re doing all the right things, the little things, and setting good examples.”
He is the Crew’s career leader in most categories, including shutouts and wins. Last week he surpassed Jon Busch, whom he likely will face Saturday when San Jose visit Crew Stadium, in saves.
Hesmer languished in the KC system — no MLS games in 2004 and 2005 and only three the next season — before the Crew acquired him through arguably the most lopsided trade in team history. He and Danny O’Rourke were selected by Toronto FC in the Expansion Draft but Columbus dealt a partial allocation for them on Nov. 17, 2006.
After earning the starting job over Andy Gruenebaum, Hesmer started the last 20 games of the 2007 season, and the following year he played all but one game as the Crew went on to win the MLS Cup.
“The first 20, 30 games [of my career] were reactionary and learning,” Hesmer said. “The game was fast. Now the game seems slow. You see things a lot quicker and you know more tendencies.”
Hesmer recovered from a fractured shoulder suffered in the final regular-season game last year and has six shutouts through 18 matches so far this season.
“More than anything, he’s a more mature goalkeeper,” head coach Robert Warzycha said of Hesmer’s development.
Even at his age, Hesmer still has aspirations of playing for the national team after getting looks at extended camps in January 2008 and 2009.
“We’re a blessed country to have tons of good goalkeepers,” Hesmer added. “I hope one day I can be considered amongst them.”