FRISCO, Texas – It’s a question Kevin Hartman will be asked before the last game of every season from now until he decides to hang up his boots:
“Is this your last game?”
With FC Dallas missing out on the MLS Cup playoffs, Sunday’s final match of the season vs. Chivas USA (7 pm ET, Galavision) will be Hartman’s last opportunity in 2012 to extend his MLS-record number of games played. But that doesn’t mean he plans on stopping any time soon.
“It’s been a rough year for everyone, but I still enjoy my soccer and feel like I’m playing at a caliber that’s good enough to play within Major League Soccer,” Hartman told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “So I certainly would love to continue to do it.”
If his recent performances are any judge, “El Gato” has certainly shown no signs of letting up. His 17 saves over his last three games are the most in any three-game stretch since he joined FC Dallas. His health is hardly an issue with either, as Sunday’s finale will mark his 30th start of the season, the fifth time in six years he’s reached the 30-game mark.
Still, there is one thing complicating matters, and that’s his contract, which expires at the end of the season. But locking up Hartman to lead what is still a young stable of goalkeepers is a must for FC Dallas.
“I think what you do is you try to hold on to your A-level players the best you can,” head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “[Bringing back] Kevin? Of course. It’s definitely a conversation we’ll have.”
Hartman is certainly no stranger to tough contract negotiations, having joined FCD in 2010 after his contract in Kansas City expired, but he hopes these discussions go much differently.
“I’m at a point in my career where I need to evaluate everything, but I’m certainly interested in getting in to hear what FC Dallas has to say and if they’d like to continue the relationship,” Hartman said. “I certainly have a lot of admiration for the coaching staff and the people in the front office.”