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Positional outlook: MDS on goalkeepers

Since taking over as Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach on November 7, Marc Dos Santos has been working “day and night” at building his roster for 2019.

And on Sunday, December 9, the MLS offseason officially begins with a half-day trade window, kicking off a busy two weeks that will also include the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft, the opening of Free Agency, the MLS Waiver Draft, and the MLS Re-Entry Process – followed by the opening of the primary MLS Transfer Window in February.

This week on whitecapsfc.com, Dos Santos will discuss the qualities he’s looking for in each position, which are all guided by the model of play he’s hoping to establish in Vancouver.

Today, Dos Santos discusses the goalkeepers.

Often times when evaluating a goalkeeper, observers tend to focus on shot-stopping ability.

And you can understand why. Big saves make the highlight-reels and bring fans out of their seats – and that will always be the case. But goalkeepers can affect the outcome of a match in many different ways, including their ability to organize a back line, command the box aerially, and distribute the ball. 

As part of his model of play, new Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos is looking for his defenders to play higher up the field. And that requires the goalkeepers in his system to play an important role in covering more space behind them as well as starting the team’s attack.

There are varying degrees of that style of goalkeeper.

Manuel Neuer of FC Bayern Munich is probably the most extreme example, in that he often plays well off his line to thwart opposition attacks and essentially act as an additional outfield player.

But Dos Santos said he’s mainly looking for a goalkeeper who is “comfortable in the first phase of build-up,” as well as someone “who has some experience in the league but still a chip on his shoulder to be seen and to grow.”

And Dos Santos said he’s confident that he can find a domestic goalkeeper that fits the bill, which would then free up an international roster spot for use on an outfield position. And he said that was part of the rationale in declining the 2019 contract option on New Zealand international Stefan Marinovic, who by the end of last season was the only starting goalkeeper in MLS who occupied an international roster spot. 

“We just want to be careful with where we put our foreign spots,” Dos Santos said.