Reviewing Jesse Gonzalez’s season amounts to some of the more low-hanging fruit of these season reviews. Slamming the Overton Window open beyond its figurative tracks until it hits the eaves is now the norm in the United States. This is no different among large swaths of the FC Dallas fan base, and it means basically the same thing- the fans love a good scapegoat. Jesse Gonzalez was always going to be the obvious target.
Despite all that and having to fight for time with a more than capable backup in the form of Jimmy Maurer, Jesse had a pretty good year, inconsistencies aside. Let’s put Jesse’s 2018 into perspective.
2018 Key Stats
21 games. 6 shutouts. 1.33 g/gm (10th*), 68.5% save percentage (8th*), Road record: 5-5-2 (1.41ppg).
Jesse’s stats from last year were all better than average for keepers in the Top 25 for appearances on the year, and the fact that most of his appearances this year were in road games- he had a top notch record in those games - explains the dip in ranking between goals allowed and save percentage. Of course, you can’t tell a keeper’s performance from stats alone, so let’s go to the tape. First, the good:
Jesse totally owned the 3 points earned here. It was easily one of the best performances by any keeper in MLS in 2018 and why you’re totally frustrated by this:
Frankly, people were in an uproar about this goal, but Jesse did enough to push Vako away from goal. Hedges should have done better there. The Hyka goal was far more egregious and kind of sunk the team shortly after Lamah had equalized. Jesse allowed 2-3 goals in 2018 that make it easy to forget how brilliant he was in Minnesota and Toronto.
Jesse doesn’t turn 24 until May, and yet he’s got the most first division experience (by far) of any keeper currently rostered. His ceiling is huge, and he has strong value within the league as well as the international player market. For the small clique of fans ready to jettison him, there’s virtually no chance he’s leaving unless the price is right. I’d suggest you come to grips with that if you find yourself in that elite group of armchair technical directors.
Jesse definitely needs some fine tuning on his focus, distribution, and box control in 2019; but his relative youth should be ample reason to give him the benefit of the doubt for the upcoming season. His last coach before signing with FC Dallas as a pro was new coach Luchi Gonzalez when Jesse was in the FCD U-18 academy. There’s reason for optimism that the fresh leadership voice will help extract a little more of the boundless raw talent Jesse possesses.