If there was one position in 2011 where FC Dallas was pretty well squared away, it had to be between the posts. Kevin Hartman started every league game, except for the regular-season finale at San Jose, and was on the pitch for every game in both the CONCACAF Champions League as well as the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Backup Chris Seitz started both games against Mexican partner Tigres UANL, the Battle for the Rio Grande Plate, and also was in goal for the finale at San Jose, but all in all, the ex-Terrapin never really pushed Hartman for minutes like FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman had hoped he would when they acquired him from Seattle during preseason.
So, how does this position shake out for 2012? Let's take a look.
Big Kev is now 37, but after a season where he started all but one league game and went 15-11-7 with 13 shutouts and had a goals-against-average of just 1.06, is there really any reason to doubt that Hartman won’t again be the man between the posts for FCD this season?
Unlike in 2010, he was able to stay healthy for the entire season, which was a big plus for the veteran keeper. Not only does he bring a lot to the pitch for Dallas, but he also brings a great deal off the field as a mentor to the likes of youngster Richard Sanchez as well as backup Chris Seitz. Some might think FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman played Hartman a bit too much last year as he also started every game in both CONCACAF Champions League as well as in the U.S. Open Cup, but that was because the gaffer just wasn’t comfortable with putting Seitz in there. Hopefully all that changes in 2012 and the ex-Terp will push Hartman for the top spot.
Last year was a pretty great one for the 17-year-old Sanchez. Who could forget his impressive run between the posts for Mexico in the 2011 Under-17 World Cup? With Josh Lambo now gone, Sanchez is officially the third ‘keeper, which means he figures to get more reps this season.
Is it still too early to expect him to push Seitz to earn some games as FCD’s backup on game day? Probably so, but one thing I know about this kid is to never rule him out. He could make a huge leap this season. Then again, he could spend much of the year getting experience in reserve games and building for what could be a huge 2013 for this young phenom.
One has to give Seitz credit. When asked how he appraised his performance last season, he didn’t mince words, saying it wasn’t at the level where he wants it to be. He has come into this preseason in great shape and ready to roll, so maybe his disappointing 2011 was nothing more than a mere aberration. Seitz and Hyndman both hope so because the FCD gaffer wants his current backup to make a legitimate push and put some pressure on Hartman for that starting spot since having such tough competition at keeper each and every day in practice will make them, as well as the entire team, better.
Seitz should have a nice resurgence in 2012 and figures to get some starts here and there to ensure Hartman is well-rested for the second half of the year.