Chivas USA’s Zach Thornton Named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year

The big Zach attack. (AP Photo)i-f5a72a29dd3dd0726a646d5113046b31-zach.jpg

Readers of this blog didn’t agree, but Chivas USA’s Zach Thornton was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year today, 11 years after first taking the honor with the Chicago Fire.

That time span between awards was undoubtedly one of the reasons the 36-year-old took the honor, beating out the Galaxy’s Donovan Ricketts and Seattle Sounders veteran Kasey Keller (both in their first MLS seasons). Thornton equals the feats of Joe Cannon and Pat Onstad in becoming one of only three MLS goalkeepers to win the award twice.

“Whenever you’re mentioned in that class of goalkeeper, with [Joe and Pat], you have to feel good about yourself,” said Thornton. “To wait this long and to have gone through what I’ve been through and to be able to win the award again is outstanding.”

At one time Thornton was seen as a fading, aging, washed up goalkeeper with youngster Dan Kennedy eagerly waiting in the wings to seize his opportunity.

But Kennedy got injured, Thornton dropped 15-20 pounds at the urging of Chivas USA Coach Preki and all of a sudden Zach was back helped by a very good back four in front of him.

From the Chivas USA press release:

In 2009, Thornton led Chivas USA to a 13-11-6 record and posted a career-best 12 shutouts and 0.87 goals against average, both of which were the top marks in MLS.

Thornton’s goals against average this season ranks second all-time in league history behind Pat Onstad’s 0.82 in 2007, and his 12 shutouts were one shy of the club record, set by Brad Guzan in 2007.

Thornton became the second Chivas USA goalkeeper to win the award, following Guzan’s record-setting campaign in 2007.

Thornton ranks second all-time in MLS in shutouts (70) and wins (125), behind only former Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.

So this seems as good as any segue to mention that Thornton’s efforts between the posts are among the 32 nominees (he has two of them) for MLS Save of the Year. The top 10 saves will be announced a week from today, with the winner announced Nov. 18.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at Cheers!
  • 32 nominees? And I thought ten best picture nominees (in 2010) would be a lot. This means the winner could be the one with 1/32 (+1) of the vote …