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Gazette: Sutton holds fort for Impact: But...


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Sutton holds fort for Impact: But keeping league's top 'keeper could cost


The Gazette

599 words

28 April 2005

Montreal Gazette




Copyright © 2005 Montreal Gazette


There is no question about who will be the Impact's No. 1 goalkeeper this year.

But there is one question surrounding Greg Sutton as the Impact prepares to open the United Soccer Leagues First Division season with a game against the Puerto Rico Islanders tomorrow night:

How long will the Impact be able to hold on to the league's top goalkeeper?

Head coach Nick DeSantis said yesterday that one by-product of last year's championship season is that other teams expressed interest in signing some of the team's top players.

"There were teams in the MLS and in Europe that wanted some of our players, but fortunately, we've been able to keep them," DeSantis said after he ran his team through an upbeat practice on a morning when the temperatures nudged close to 30C.

Sutton was at the top of the list. After being named the A-League's top goalkeeper for the second consecutive season, he earned a try with Bolton of the English League First Division and received several inquiries from Major League Soccer teams.

"I was interested," said Sutton, who began his pro career with MLS's Chicago Fire in 1999 after playing at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.

"But I looked at the options and I decided that I wanted to stay in Montreal. If the right deal came along, if I knew that I was going to go somewhere and be there for a while, I'd be interested. But there was nothing like that," Sutton said.

Sutton does have that kind of arrangement in Montreal. Since joining the team in 2001, he has shown steady improvement. After going 8-6-2 in his first year, he has won 14, 15 and 14 regular-season games in each of the past three seasons, and has registered at least 10 shutouts in each of those years.

Last season, he set a team record with 16 shutouts and had a sparkling 0.54 goals-against average.

A Hamilton native who spent his teen years in Connecticut, Sutton also has attracted attention from Canada's national team. Coach Frank Yallop has given Sutton several starting assignments in the past year, and DeSantis is aware he'll lose Sutton for a few regular-season games in July when Canada plays in the Gold Cup tournament.

"I expect that I'll have a good shot at being the No. 1 goalkeeper for those games," said Sutton, who has posted shutout wins over Northern Ireland and Barbados in his last two international starts.

DeSantis has confidence that Andrew Olivieri, who had three shutouts last season, can fill in during Sutton's absence, and the team is negotiating with a third 'keeper.

Sutton, 28, lives in Montreal year-round and notes that "it's a pretty good city for a young, single guy." He has become more involved in soccer camps during his free time and hopes to open a soccer academy in the future. He could also consider handing out a few hints on basketball.

The 6-foot-5 Sutton played basketball as well as soccer during his college career at St. Lawrence and helped the Saints reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III championship.

"I really enjoyed playing basketball and I thought about going to Europe and playing pro basketball," he said. "But then I got drafted by the MLS and decided to concentrate on soccer."

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