This past off season FC Dallas fans were faced with the reality that fan favorite and veteran goalkeeper, Kevin Hartman would not be returning for the 2013 season. It was a move based on money but one that many fans questioned.
It left the team with two keepers in Chris Seitz and young standout Richard Sanchez. Despite missing the end of last season due to bone marrow donation, FC Dallas gave Seitz a contract extension which seemed to make him the heir apparent to Hartman.
Then came Raul Fernandez.
On January 10th of this year the team announced the signing of Peruvian National Team #1 and suddenly Seitz being a lock at keeper was no longer the case. It was announced that the starting goalkeeper position was wide open for the taking and that neither Fernandez or Seitz would be guaranteed the spot on opening day until they had proved themselves.
We heard stories all off season about the conditioning and training that Seitz had been doing since his bone marrow donation last September. I had the chance to see Seitz a couple of times during the preseason and I have to admit that Seitz looked like a different keeper from years past. He looked bigger, stronger, quicker, and more focused than we in Dallas had ever seen him.
On opening day however it was Fernandez who wore the #1 kit for FCD.
Over his three games with FC Dallas Fernandez has gone 2-1-0 with nine saves, five goals against, and one shut out. While Fernandez has had a few missteps over these three games, overall he's been a good keeper and hasn't given up stupid goals. The knock on Fernandez is that he doesn't speak much English at all and that has lead to him being unable to get the back line as organized as one would hope. Other than the first home game the back line has seen it's shares of mistakes and disarray at times and has given up it's fair share of late goals.
Seitz, in his one start this year, had three saves on four shots on goal and kept a clean sheet against Real Salt Lake. He looked very solid through all 90 minutes and the back line looked as organized as they had all year.
As Fernandez looks to be returning to the team in time for the trip to Foxborough where does this leave the FC Dallas keeper situation?
While Seitz has only played one game this season, did he make enough of a case in that game to usurp Fernandez for the starting spot?
In making your opinion I ask you to consider these things:
1. Keep your emotions in check. The sacrifice that Seitz was willing to make in order to donate bone marrow to a complete stranger has endeared him to the hearts of many around Hoops nation and the familiarity we as fans have with him make him the logical choice of many. However does this endearment make fans pick apart and over analyze every single mistake that Fernandez makes?
2. Is more made of the language barrier issue with Fernandez than should be? While the defense looked as poor as it has in a long time against Chivas USA and there were several mistakes that lead to Houston goals, lets not forget how great the back four looked against Colorado in the first game of the year. Is the language barrier as big of a hindrance as we may think?
3. The biggest save of the night against RSL was made by Matt Hedges. That's not to take anything away from the three great saves that Seitz had, but without that sliding save by Hedges we could very well be talking about a different outcome to this game.
Whatever your views on who should be the FC Dallas starting keeper the fact that we have two quality goalkeepers to fight for the starting spot says loads about the team the coaching staff and front office have built in Frisco. There are many teams around MLS that would love to have our problem.