Can A Goalkeeper Who Allowed Four Goals Be the Man of the Match?

Aug 12, 2012; Carson, CA, USA; Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy's performance can't be judged solely on the scoreline Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

Last night's match looked like it was pulled straight out of the world's most one-sided fistfights. And it could have been worse. Much, much worse. Dan Kennedy may have allowed four goals, but he also had one heck of a game. Sound crazy? Read more after the jump!

Dan Kennedy was shelled by a LA Galaxy side that took 20 shots--12 of which were on frame. Kennedy's eight saves were nothing short of spectacular. Using every tool in his arsenal--punching and poking balls using his speed, hops and agility, the Goats' Number One finished the night just short of reaching the 2012 single game saves record held by Chicago Fire keeper Sean Johnson.

This is where, at least in the modern age, statistics really fail us on how to evaluate goaltenders. Kennedy may very well be the best tender in the league but you'd never know that going by the most important stat, wins. It certainly doesn't help his resume that, including the US Open Cup run, Kennedy was in net for a trio of losses where the team gave up four goals in 2012.

Like ERA in baseball, many try to use Goal Against Average (GAA) to estimate a goalkeeper contributions to a team. Sporting Kansas City's Jimmy Nielsen's GAA of .91 was often cited leading up to the game.

Yet Nielsen has allowed the same number of goals, 21, as Kennedy. In three more games than Kennedy, Nielsen has faced fewer shots and made fewer saves, leading to an equal Save Percentage of 73%.

Likewise, both keepers have 1-0 wins over the Galaxy, but Chivas had the misfortune of having three games against LA due to the uneven schedule.

It's obvious that whatever plan Robin Fraser drew up for containing Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan (the latter having a career-best four assists against Chivas) was either ineffective--to put it mildly--or just abandoned altogether as the opposing forwards so frequently took misplayed balls and blew right by flatfooted Chivas defenders.

Side-note: Interestingly, while Donovan is credited with four on the MLS MatchCenter page, his Opta heat map only credits him with three. The missing goal was Juninho's dagger in the 64th minute. I think Opta got this one wrong; Opta credits Donovan as making a successful pass to Juninho at 63:05 and at 63:07 Juninho scores. Sounds like an assist to me...

Sunday was a long and harrowing game and while I was quick to delete it from my DVR, I fully expect Fraser and company to keep the video on an endless playlist trying to suss out the tendencies and missteps that led to the rout. I think this is going to be a tough week of training for Kennedy and the Goats before they head to Colorado. After all, It's not often that you are playing to avenge two 4-0 losses.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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