Home MLS Montreal Impact Ricketts continues to have Jekyll-and-Hyde performances for the Impact

Ricketts continues to have Jekyll-and-Hyde performances for the Impact

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Rating Donovan Ricketts’ performances as the No. 1 keeper for the Montreal Impact is a difficult task. On one hand, Ricketts has the ability to make eye-popping saves that make him a regular nominee for MLS weekly honours. On the other hand, you can’t ignore the errors he’s made that have led to goals this season. At some point, when your team has given up the most goals in the league, the criticism has to fall on the keeper.

It’s like a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And both were evident in the Impact’s 3-0 loss in Houston on Saturday night.

On Houston’s opening goal early in the first half, Calen Carr’s low pass to the middle of the area got caught in the feet of Macoumba Kandji. He finally found the ball and poked a shot towards goal that ricocheted off Ricketts and defender Zarek Valentin before finding the goal. What hurt is that it came just minutes after Lamar Neagle had hit the post going the other way.

Ricketts was unlucky, that the shot bounded off him and Valentin the way that it did, but he was slow to react to the play.

In the second half Ricketts was bailed out by central defender Shavar Thomas. A long pass up the field from Andrew Hainault found Kandji. Ricketts came flying out of his penalty area, making it easy for Kandji to flick a headed first touch over the keeper. Kandji blew by Ricketts and looked to have an easy goal, but Thomas sprinted back to make a fabulous, clean, goal-saving tackle.

Then, late in the game, after Sanna Nyassi had sent a chance to equalize just wide, Ricketts made a solid stop on a whizzing shot from Brad Davis, getting his hand to the ball. But, on the ensuing corner, he undid all of his good work. He came flying off the line to claim the corner, got nowhere near it, and Bobby Boswell had a clear header into a goal that Ricketts had vacated. The sight of Ricketts coming off the line, then flailing pointlessly as Boswell got to the corner, was painful to watch on replay. In a lot of ways, that sequence was a microcosm of the Impact keeper’s season.

Ricketts could do nothing on the third goal, a blast under the bar from Kandji after he skipped through an exhausted Impact defence.

And that’s the thing. Ricketts has been a bit of a Teflon figure in Montreal, despite the fact he has yielded more goals than any other keeper in the league. The Impact’s move to claim Ricketts was never going to be a sure thing; remember, he didn’t finish the 2011 season in Los Angeles as the Galaxy’s No. 1 keeper. Josh Saunders took the job from him.

In early July, Marsch had a look at Evan Bush, who was the best keeper in NASL last season, after Ricketts struggled in that infamous late-June home loss to TFC. The floodgates to that 3-0 loss were opened when Ricketts allowed Torsten Frings’ free kick to go right through his hands. Yes, the shot was stung, but it was a shot that the keeper has to save.

In last week’s loss to Philadelphia, Ricketts got in the way of a pass from Union forward Antoine Hoppenot, intended for teammate Lionard Pajoy. But Ricketts didn’t hold onto the ball, and Pajoy got to the ball and pounded it home.

Playing in hot, humid conditions didn’t help the Impact. After spending most of the Friday travel day stranded because the team’s flight had mechanical issues, the Impact knew chances and possession would be at a premium in the Houston heat. Knowing that, your keeper needs to be a big man for the team.

And, like we have seen so often this year, you take the good with the bad when it comes to Ricketts’ play. But, are the highlight-reel saves covering for the fact that he’s been making too many fundamental errors to continue as a No. 1 keeper in MLS?

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One Comment

  1. Thomas1300

    July 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Donovan Ricketts is such an experienced goalkeeper. He has achieved a lot and he was the 2010 MLS Goalkeeper of the year with his former team, the LA Galaxy.
    Ricketts gives his team a chance to win every game with the Montreal Impact and with the Jamaican National Team. He plays great in MLS and always has had been such an important part of the team.

    Reply

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