Chivas USA 2012 Player Postmortem: Dan Kennedy

DK: Another fabulous season for the Goats. - Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

The goalkeeper was far and away Chivas USA's best player in 2012.

Chivas USA finished the 2012 season with the league's second-worst record of 30 points. I don't think it is overstating the case to say that without Dan Kennedy's contributions, Chivas would have been the very worst team in the league. The Goats earned seven more points than Toronto FC, and without his clutch saves in the TFC win, the Real Salt Lake win, and any number of draws on the season, Chivas could have easily finished on less than 23 points.

MLS has many very good to excellent goalkeepers in the league, but Kennedy is one of the very best, as his first-ever MLS All-Star selection and second place finish in MLS Goalkeeper of the Year voting indicated in 2012. There is a reason other MLS teams covet Kennedy, and there is a reason why Chivas USA fans unanimously adore DK - he is far and away the best player on the team.

Entering the 2012 season, it seemed likely that Kennedy would build upon his breakout 2011 campaign, although Robin Fraser was not above calling out his star goalkeeper in the preseason. That warning evidently woke him up, as Kennedy went on a tear, and really picked up where his 2011 performances left off. He was the losing goalkeeper on far too many lopsided losses, but he was not to blame for nearly all of those goals, as his defense crumbled around him two seasons in a row.

Even with the statistics that aren't as flattering as other goalkeepers', I wouldn't trade Kennedy for any other keeper in the league. Jimmy Nielsen, Michael Gspurning, Nick Rimando - nope, I like Chivas' chances with DK. Think about the other positions on the field. You can find better players around the league in all of the other positions, but Kennedy is very much elite. And between Brad Guzan, Zach Thornton, and Kennedy, Chivas have always had good keepers, and Kennedy very much keeps that tradition alive for the club.

Here were Kennedy's statistics for 2012:

Games Played Games Started Minutes Saves Goals Allowed GAA Shutouts Win % Save % Yellow Cards
MLS Regular Season 32 32 2,880 109 54 1.69 7 22 65 2
U.S. Open Cup 1 1 90 5 4 4.00 0 0 56 0
Total 33 33 2,970 114 58 1.76 7 22 66 2

If there are weaknesses to Kennedy's game, and these are minor compared to most of his contemporaries, it is that he wanders off his line a lot when the action is down at the other end, and in 2012, teams started trying to beat him with quick lobs from the center circle. Fortunately for him, he didn't allow any embarrassing goals via this method, but he needs to stay vigilant. I'd also add that his distribution isn't sparkling, but considering the heroics he performs game in and game out, distribution isn't a huge concern.

Of course, there were rumors that Kennedy was on his way to the LA Galaxy last month, but those have died down with the Galaxy bringing in a keeper from Europe. I wouldn't begrudge Kennedy moving to Europe to try and find a new challenge, but otherwise, I hope he stays with the Goats for a long time. Folks talk about Chivas needing a franchise player to build around, but they already have him. It is now up to the front office to find other high-caliber players to put on the field alongside Kennedy.

Grades:

Ability: A
It was open season on the Chivas USA net minder. Despite sitting out the last two games, no one else in MLS faced more shots than Dan Kennedy.

Decision Making: A-
Credit Real Salt Lake for scouting Kennedy's tendencies. In the teams last two meetings, RSL kept their forwards high and exploited Kennedy by intercepting his passes to Ante Jazic and John Valencia for two quick scores. That it happened once was forgivable but Kennedy shouldn't have been fooled twice.

Intangibles: A
Kennedy's ability to make multiple saves on the same possession is equal parts amazing and dangerous. So often when Kennedy makes a save, everyone runs up the field leaving opponents unmarked to slot home the rebound.

- Matthew Hoffman

GM's Evaluation:

I don't think there's anything I need to say about Dan Kennedy that hasn't already be said. We shouldn't sell him (unless it's out of MLS for him to flourish). He should be captain. He should be called up to the national team. The sky is blue, the grass is green.

- Rachna Kapur

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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