One of the biggest questions heading into this season was if youngster Tally Hall could realistically fill the hole in net left by goalkeeping legend Pat Onstad.
But as Hall’s first postseason approaches, there’s little doubt the Houston Dynamo 'keeper has been more than up to the task.
“I think he’ll be fine in the playoffs,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told reporters on a conference call on Wednesday. “Tally’s played pretty well to either calm us down or keep us in games. He’s played some great games … when we weren’t playing our best.”
Hall recorded 99 saves on his way to posting a 1.21 goals-against average this season while playing every regular season minute for Houston. He also picked up an All-Star nod, a well deserved accolade for a breakthrough season.
Early in the season, Hall put on back-to-back master class performances, making a combined 14 saves in road draws against the Seattle Sounders in Week 2 and New York Red Bulls in Week 3.
“He had big shoes to fill because Pat was a legend, but he’s stepped up huge,” defender Andre Hainault said. “You could’ve said, ‘He’ll come in and have those shaky moments,’ but he came in and did well right away and started off very well. It was one performance after the other. He’s been so strong all season long and I’ve been happy for him back there. It’s a huge thing to have that confidence in your goalkeeper.”
With Hall between the pipes, Houston notched two crucial road shutouts against FC Dallas on Sept. 24 and the Portland Timbers on Oct. 14. Those wins were huge as the Dynamo lifted themselves to the second seed in the Eastern Conference, and a conference semifinal series date against the Philadelphia Union that begins Sunday.
In addition to the shutouts, Hall has allowed just five goals in Houston’s six-game unbeaten streak to end the regular season, and two of those were from the penalty spot.
“You can look at teams and talk about this and that, but the goalkeeper is definitely one of the most important things about a team if they’re going to make a run in the playoffs,” Hainault said. “We have a lot confidence in Tally and we’re looking to start on the right foot come the playoffs.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.