2000 – Around the World and Close to Home
The Dot.com Boom busts in a Nasdaq Composite sell-off that eventually sees many online shopping companies fail. An extremely close Electoral College presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore is finally settled when the Supreme Court rules 5-4 that a Florida recount be halted. The census indicates every Washington country grows, and the state population shows 21 percent increase since 1990. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation becomes the nation’s richest philanthropic trust with a gift of $5 billion from the couple. The Kingdome is imploded to make way for the new soccer-football stadium. The Seattle Mariners rebound from losing both Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson to win 91 games and reach the playoffs, and Meagan Quann takes gold in breast stroke and individual medley at the Sydney Olympics.
The State of Goalkeeping
They are the backstop, the last line of defense charged with stopping shots and saving the day. And if any position is symbolic of the heights which Washington players have attained, it is the goalkeeper.
What began with Willi Lindner and Ballan Campeau became a full-on royal flush by the Eighties. In the Nineties, our exports reached Great Britain and the world stage. By 2000, two keepers from Washington were playing in Europe, and Hope Solo raised the number of collegiate All-Americans at that position to 14 from this state.
Even for such a soccer-mad land, that’s an incredibly large amount. However, it turns out there’s a most logical reason for that quality and quantity. It was not, as some outsiders mused, a matter of our keepers being accustomed to diving because of our lush, rain-soaked lawns on which to land (see Cintrex and original AstroTurf). Instead, it was all about the influence of three coaches whose legacy lives on between the sticks.
In the Sixties, Lindner was the young, hand-picked Seattle Hungarians netminder, and Campeau rose from the local juniors to collegiate stardom at Santa Clara and, later, a roster spot with the original Sounders. However, they were not privy to the expertise still to come.
Via Cliff McCrath’s Northwest Soccer Camp, some English veterans spent up to a fortnight on Whidbey Island. It started with Arsenal legend Bob Wilson and Manchester City’s Joe Corrigan, two former England internationals, giving invaluable coaching to youngsters. Yet it was a lesser-known Paul Barron who truly planted a flag. Barron arrived just as a kid named Kasey Keller was coming through camp. Keller was eager and already beginning to earn acclaim with youth national coaches.
Soon enough, word circulated about Barron and, together with Keller’s rising star, other kids began coming to the island and going home with a wealth of newly acquired wisdom. Soon after Barron, there was a second source expertise in western Washington.
Tony Waiters, another England international and former head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Canadian World Cup team, was brought in from British Columbia by the state youth association to run his World of Soccer camps in Olympia. Waiters, in turn, also trained a surrogate to nurture talent year-round. Rob Walker soon established himself as the go-to goalkeeper coach in the state and region.
“Rob Walker, Tony Waiters and Paul Barron: Those three were very influential,” said Tom Dutra, Sounders FC goalkeeper coach. “Rob probably put more people in the youth national team program than anyone, and he was fantastic as far as building the foundation for youth goalkeepers. Tony Waiters had a real passion to help develop goalkeepers, and then you had Paul coming each summer. They all trained so many good goalkeepers.”
From 1986 through 1992, seven men and women keepers raised in Washington made All-America teams in NAIA, Division II and Division I. Certainly, Keller was the prodigy. He was called to the youth national team at 16, and the 1990 World Cup squad at 19.
Word spread about Barron, and soon enough Matt Olson and Marcus Hahnemann were among the notable campers. Dutra and others would work at Waiters’s camps and train with him on the side. It was akin to an apprenticeship, said Dutra.
Walker was chosen to write U.S. Soccer’s first curriculum for goalkeeping coach licensing.
Top goalies were consuming concentrated doses of Barron and Waiters wisdom, then training periodically on weekends with Walker throughout the year. Keller’s drive and commitment to excellence was contagious. His sure hands, technique and composure proved a calming presence to any back four. Once he signed with Millwall straight out of college, the pathway had been paved.
“Kasey was the big one, first making the youth national team and then going to England,” remembered Dutra. “Myself, I was thinking that if he can do it, I can do it. When Marcus and I were with the A-League Sounders and Kasey was in Europe, we believed we could get there.”
For women, Solo would follow in the footsteps of Amy Allmann and Gretchen Gegg to national selection. Hahnemann would earn his first cap in 1994 and move from MLS to England in 1999. Several others from the state, men and women, would play for the U.S. or professionally. Injuries contributed to cutting short Dutra’s pro playing career, yet it kickstarted his coaching. He took over some teaching when Walker moved out of state, added club and college assignments, plus train with Keller and Hahnemann during their offseason. In 2006, Dutra joined the Sounders staff. He sees himself as an extension of his mentors, Waiters and Walker.
“There’s no chance I’d be here today if it wasn’t for those guys,” he said. “They were helping me become a goalkeeper, but they had no idea someday I’d become a coach. And they did it with class. That old guard, they did it with class.”