There were more than a few people scratching their heads when the Portland Timbers opted to trade away Troy Perkins and entrust their goalkeeping to the seemingly fragile and out-of-form Donovan Ricketts last season. And truth be told, those doubters (me included!) were feeling pretty smug as Ricketts only managed to make nine starts and allow 13 goals in those games.
Turns out that the Timbers may have known something the rest of us missed: Ricketts was still quite capable of being an elite goalkeeper and was a major reason Portland allowed 23 fewer goals this year than they did in 2012. Ricketts was the only goalkeeper among the top three in shutouts (14), goals against average (.97) and save percentage (73). He also lost just five games, the fewest among goalkeepers with at least 12 decisions.
For all these reasons, SB Nation's soccer bloggers made Ricketts our MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. With 12 votes, Ricketts just edged out Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando, who had 10. No other goalkeeper had more than two votes.
While Rimando's season was certainly impressive, it's hard to deny that Ricketts is deserving of this award. Based on the numbers alone, Ricketts was better almost across the board. The only significant areas where Rimando bested Ricketts was in wins (14-13) and save percentage (73.2-73.0). So while Rimando may have had the better of Ricketts on the eye-test alone (which is obviously very subjective) our voters seem to have relied on things they can actually count.
And to be fair to Ricketts, he made plenty of highlight-reel-worthy saves of his own. Ricketts won a rather astounding 10 Saves of the Week, as determined by visitors to MLSsoccer.com. Among his best performances were back-to-back performances against the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders in weeks 32 and 33. In both games, Ricketts was going goalpost-to-goalpost and using all of his 6'4 frame to allow the Timbers to grab a tie and win.
About the voting: Representatives from each of SB Nation's 19 MLS blogs and other assorted SBN soccer bloggers were invited to cast one vote for each of our six categories. Only those who received more than one vote were tabulated.