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Rating the MLS keepers: Why DP Mondragon is Philadelphia Union success

Colorado Rapids goalkeeper and coach Chris Sharpe feels a new identity is being built for MLS keepers this season.

Sharpe says Philadelphia Union have benefitted enormously from taking Faryd Mondragon, the former Galatasaray and Colombia international keeper, as one of their Designated Players - as has New York Red Bulls, after their swoop for Germany international Frank Rost, previously of Hamburg and Werder Bremen.

"I think using DP spots on goalkeepers is well worth it if you're bringing in top class goalkeepers like Rost and Mondragon," reasoned Sharpe with

"Mondragon was named Philly's captain and has been their wall at the back this season - and I believe a huge reason why they are at the top of the Eastern Division.

"Rost, we have not seen too much of, although with 400-odd Bundesliga games under his belt he brings a wealth of experience. Unfortunately, he has a torn quad at the moment."

Sharpe says Mondragon has been a matchwinner for Philly this season and his influence should force MLS coaches into a rethink about the importance of having a high calibre international No1 between the posts.

"Every club only has 3-4 DP spots available to them, and if you're going to use them they need to be filled with game changing players," said Sharpe.

"Unfortunately many people don't see just how, if not more, important having a great goalkeeper is to a team - even more so than a playmaker or striker.

"Philly is wonderful example, they did their homework, brought in an older, experienced, leader and it has paid off for them very well this season! I would like to see it happen more!"

Along with being a senior pro on the Rapids books, Sharpe is also working as a coach with the club's Academy team and is delighted seeing one of MLS's brightest young shot-stoppers recognised by new USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann this month.

Klinsmann surprised many handing a first squad call-up to DC United's 20 year-old keeper Bill Hamid.

But Sharpe says: "I think Bill is a good young goalkeeper. At 20 years old he is a big lad, very athletic for his size and has shown this season he can hold it together in big games.

"He has been one of the better goalkeepers in MLS this season and as a result caught the National Team scout's eye. I think he has a bright future ahead of him."

Now a veteran around MLS, Sharpe is well placed to name his top five keepers this season.

"Donavon Ricketts (LA Galaxy), Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Kevin Hartman (FC Dallas) and Stefan Frei (Toronto FC)," replies the former Southampton and Chesterfield keeper.

"I feel that the five goalkeepers I have named are the best goalkeepers currently in the MLS. If you look at the first four, they all very experienced goalkeepers. Stef is a younger goalkeeper at 25 but has a great deal to offer."

Donovan Ricketts (LA Galaxy) "Donavon has had a wonderful career abroad in England and since coming back to the MLS has won numerous accolades as well as being the Jamaican No1. He is huge at 6'6 and his wingspan is incredible. Very good in the air and a brilliant shot stopper.

Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) "Nick, has been the most consistent goalkeeper over the past five years in the MLS. His team Salt Lake won the League in 2009 and also made the final of the CONCACAF Champions League this year against Monterrey, and Nick played a massive part in this. Nick is not very big at 5'10 but has tremendous power and for me has the best feet of any goalkeeper in the league."

Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders) "Kasey Keller, not a whole lot needs to be said. USA's No1 for many years, experience at the highest level and one of the all time great American goalkeepers."

Kevin Hartman (FC Dallas) "Kevin, I had the privilege of training with for two months when I went on loan to FC Dallas in 2010. Kevin has been a top MLS goalkeeper for almost 15 years now. Hold records for games played, games won, clean sheets and to be honest I think the last two years have probably been his best. A wealth of experience and great guy on top of all that."

Stefan Frei (Toronto FC) "Stef, is young compared to the previous four. His third year in the League he is already the club captain and has shown in the past two seasons just how good he is. Capable of big saves at the right time and a natural leader. Also has wonderful distribution."

Sharpe sees at first-hand the depth of goalkeeping talent in America's youth ranks thanks to his work with the Rapids academy - and believes the nation's best will only improve further when coming in contact with players of the calibre of Mondragon.

"I have a few wonderfully talented young goalkeepers, a couple in the U14-U15 National Teams, who are just a pleasure to work with and seeing them excel is a nice reward after you put that time in to help them.

"I believe that there are quite a few MLS goalkeepers across the league helping their respective clubs, Mondragon I know is one at Philly, with the Academies and I think it's a wonderful idea from clubs to have their professional players helping coach their youth."

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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