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  • Vancouver Whitecaps' All-Time Greats: The MLS Goalkeeper



    Two down, 34 spots still to be filled!

    <a href="http://www.canadiansoccernews.com/content.php?5214-Vancouver-Whitecaps-All-Time-Greats-Phil-Parkes" target="_blank"><u>Phil Parkes</u></a> and <a href="http://www.canadiansoccernews.com/content.php?5231-Vancouver-Whitecaps-All-Time-Greats-Paul-Dolan" target="_blank"><u>Paul Dolan</u></a> claimed the goalkeeper's spot in the NASL XI last week.

    This week we search for the goalkeeper for the MLS XI and there's a more limited number of Whitecaps candidates to consider. Just four in total.


    If you're new to the series, just a quick recap. Last month we <a href="http://www.canadiansoccernews.com/content.php?5141-AFTN-launches-our-Vancouver-Whitecaps-All-Time-Greats" target="_blank"><u>announced</u></a> the launch of our interactive series to find the All-Time Greats, position by position, from the last forty years of Vancouver Whitecaps and 86ers football.

    The Caps' teams will be split into three eras, selecting the best XI from the <b>NASL days (1974 to 1984)</b>, the <b>CSL/D2 days (1987 to 2010)</b> and the <b>MLS days (2011 to present day)</b>. All teams will line up in a 4-4-2 formation and then a final All Time Greats XI selected.

    Every Sunday we'll run an article on here to vote for a certain position for a certain team. Each team's position will be allocated an article and a week to itself and we'll chat about some of the possible contenders for the crown to jog memories.

    You can cast your vote in the article comments, on Twitter, on Facebook, and on the Southsiders forum. Voting will run from the Sunday till 11.59pm on the Friday. You don't have to have seen the players play to vote. Just know your history.

    So, summary over, we continue the series as we try and narrow down a goalkeeper from the three year old MLS era.


    After the lengthy research needed for the first two eras in the series, we move to the brief and current MLS era and much smaller pool of players to pick from.

    Three seasons of MLS action, 103 games and four goalkeepers have seen minutes so far, with the likelihood of at least another one seeing gametime in this coming season.

    When Vancouver made the move to Major League Soccer in 2011 they brought with them two goalkeepers from their D2 and Residency days.

    <b>Jay Nolly</b> was a fan favourite and a standout keeper for the Whitecaps at the level below MLS, as we detailed <a href="http://www.canadiansoccernews.com/content.php?5215-Vancouver-Whitecaps-All-Time-Greats-The-CSL-D2-Goalkeeper" target="_blank"><u>last time</u></a>.

    ccs-123494-140264021842_thumb.jpgHe had come to Vancouver in 2008 with previous experience in Major League Soccer. Three seasons at Real Salt Lake and DC United had seen him make just 8 MLS appearances, recording no clean sheets, but Caps coach Teitur Thordarson had complete faith in the USSF-D2 Goalkeeper of the Year.

    And no wonder. 18 clean sheets in 2010 and a 1.0 goals against average were impressive stats and fans wondered whether he would get the nod to start in the Caps' first ever MLS match against Toronto on March 19th 2011. He did and guided Vancouver to their first ever MLS victory.

    Nolly started 11 of the first 12 games that season, keeping two clean sheets and letting in 16 goals. With the Caps struggling and Thordarson dismissed at the end of May, new coach Tommy Soehn didn't have the same faith in Nolly and installed Joe Cannon as the starting keeper.

    Nolly only made three more appearances for the rest of the season and the writing was on the wall when Vancouver's third MLS coach, Martin Rennie, came in during November. Nolly was traded to Chicago in December in 2011 but never made an appearance for them and injury has seemingly forced Nolly to retire from the game.

    Nolly played four seasons in total for the Whitecaps from 2008 to 2011. His MLS career stats for Vancouver are 14 appearances, 1260 minutes, 2 clean sheets (14.3%) and 23 goals against (1.64 GAA), with a record of 2 wins, 6 draws and 6 losses (a 14.3% win percentage).

    The third keeper on the books that inaugural MLS season was Residency and PDL goalie <b>Brian Sylvestre</b>. Injury prone, the former US U20 goalkeeper was released after the 2012 season without ever getting a sniff of the first team action.

    <b>Joe Cannon</b> was selected by the Whitecaps with their 8th pick of the 2010 Expansion Draft and came to Vancouver with 12 MLS seasons, one MLS Cup and two Goalkeeper of the Year awards to his name.

    ccs-123494-140264021845_thumb.jpgCannon was still getting back to full fitness by the start of the 2011 season and apart from one early appearance in March he had to wait until June 1st to claim the starters spot when new coach Soehn took over. He started Cannon for eight of the next nine games and for all but three of the remaining games that season.

    New coach Rennie also made Cannon his starter and the veteran started 33 straight games over a 12 month period from August 2011 to July 2012. He was to lose his place the following month for the remainder of the 2012 season after making a mistake in a loss in Portland.

    Many thought that was the end of Cannon as the Caps starter but the veteran worked tirelessly in the offseason to get himself into top shape and he won the starting spot for the 2013 season.

    A little known groin injury had been bugging Cannon for weeks and affecting his performances and he eventually lost the number one spot again and for good, playing his last game as a Whitecap in the 3-1 home win over LA Galaxy on May 11th 2013.

    Cannon had a string of Save of the Week winners and candidates over his last two seasons and played all 427 minutes in the Whitecaps' MLS record breaking shutout streak to open the 2012 season.

    Cannon played three MLS seasons for the Whitecaps from 2011 to his release in November 2013. His MLS career stats for Vancouver are 56 appearances, 4977 minutes, 12 clean sheets (21.4%) and 80 goals against (1.43 GAA), with a record of 15 wins, 14 draws and 26 losses (a 26.8% win percentage).

    ccs-123494-140264021848_thumb.jpg<b>Brad Knighton</b> came to Vancouver before the 2012 season, having played for new coach Rennie at Carolina RailHawks. He also came with four years of MLS experience and 14 appearances, making six starts for New England in 2009 and eight for Philadelphia in 2010.

    He made his Caps' debut in the second game of the 2012 season when an injury to Cannon forced Knighton into action in the 49th minute. He kept a clean sheet on the way to Vancouver's first ever MLS away win.

    Knighton had to wait until July 27th for his next appearance and this time it came when Cannon was sent off and he played the last 13 minutes of the 2-1 away loss to RSL. He started the next game at home to RSL, this time winning 2-1, and four games later he had claimed the regular starters spot for the rest of the season and for the Whitecaps' first ever playoff game.

    After losing the number one jersey to Cannon again for the start of 2013, he reclaimed it on May 18th for the 2-2 draw at home to Portland and made it his own for the next ten games before losing it once and for all to new addition David Ousted at the start of August.

    Knighton's last game as a Whitecaps came in the 1-0 home loss to Philadelphia on July 27th and he was released in November before being picked up by New England.

    Knighton played two MLS seasons for the Whitecaps in 2012 and 2013. His MLS career stats for Vancouver are 21 appearances, 1772 minutes, 5 clean sheets (23.8%) and 22 goals against (1.05 GAA), with a record of 9 wins, 5 draws and 6 losses (a 42.9% win percentage). These are the best stats of any Whitecaps' MLS goalkeeper, albeit with a smaller amount of games played than Cannon and without having had to play in that awful first season!

    ccs-123494-14026402185_thumb.jpg<b>David Ousted</b> is the MLS goalkeeper to have made the least appearances so far but he is the one still at the club and with the rest of his Whitecaps career still ahead of him.

    Joining from Danish Superliga side Randers in July 2013, Ousted had to wait until August 3rd to make his Whitecaps MLS debut but held the starting spot for the remainder of the season and goes into the 2014 season as Carl Robinson's number one keeper.

    Ousted has played less than half a MLS season for the Whitecaps. His MLS career stats for Vancouver to date are 13 appearances, 1170 minutes, 4 clean sheets (30.8%) and 16 goals against (1.23 GAA), with a record of 4 wins, 4 draws and 5 losses (a 30.8% win percentage) with a lot more to come.

    The other goalkeeper to be on a Whitecaps' MLS roster is Canadian and Residency alumni <b>Simon Thomas</b>.

    Thomas signed for the 2013 season as the third keeper but didn't play any games before being surprisingly released in November. He is back in the Caps 2014 preseason training camp but his future remains unclear.

    So that's the aptly named shortlist, now it's up to you guys for the voting.

    Who is your pick to make the <b>Vancouver Whitecaps MLS XI</b> as starting keeper? Do you go for Cannon for the number of appearances and top performances? Does Knighton get it for his stats record? Or do Nolly or Ousted sneak in with those that may feel they were/are the better all round keeper?

    Let us know below, on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/aftncanada" target="_blank"><u>Twitter</u></a>, on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/aftn.canada/" target="_blank"><u>Facebook</u></a> or on the <a href="http://vancouversouthsiders.ca/forum/discussion/4165/vancouver-whitecaps-all-time-greats#Item_1" target="_blank"><u>Southsiders</u></a> forum. You can leave your comment under your name or as anonymous, whatever is easier for you.

    And share your memories and stories of any of these guys for us all to enjoy.


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