MLS GK’s to watch in 2016:Dan Kennedy

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Dan Kennedy was the man chosen to bring some stability to the goalkeeping position at the StubHub Arena this summer, after LA Galaxy struggled for consistency between the sticks throughout the 2015 season. While it is still early days, Kennedy has already started to an impression at the club.

“Dan Kennedy has shown why we wanted him here,” club coach Bruce Arena said following the club’s 0-0 draw against Santos Laguna last month. “He is coming out of a pre-season in good form and hopefully he can keep pushing forward.”

Despite bowing out of his first Major League Soccer appearance for the club after just 20 minutes in Monday’s 4-1 victory over DC United, the veteran goalkeeper is likely to return to the starting line-up as soon as he becomes available. Aside from the injury setback, Kennedy appears to be settling in well, which is hardly surprising, given that he was born and raised in California and has had a long spell in Los Angeles already in his career.

The 33-year-old shot-stopper started his soccer journey at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he still holds the school record for the most shutouts, having spent three years playing for the UCSB Gauchos. After a short spell at Orange County Blue Star, playing alongside now-United States national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Kennedy was drafted by Chivas USA in the 2005 SuperDraft, before eventually finding his way to second tier side Puerto Rico Islanders.

It was his first season on the Caribbean island when Kennedy really made a name for himself, as his dominant performances saw him win the United Soccer League’s Rookie of the Year award, with the Islanders finishing within touching distance of a play-off place.

After a brief, yet impressive season in Chile, the emerging talent would finally get his chance in MLS, as he joined up with LA Galaxy’s neighbouring club Chivas USA, to begin a six year spell in the city.

Despite playing as understudy to first choice keeper Zach Thornton for the first three years, a poor start to the 2011 campaign soon saw Kennedy become the club’s main man between the sticks. Aside from the first two games, he would go on to play in every single remaining minute of the season, earning himself the club’s Player of the Year award.

While Kennedy was never able to top his 2011 performances, Thornton hung up his boots at the end of the campaign, cementing his successor’s place as the club’s first choice shot-stopper for the next few years.

The American would stay put until the club was eventually dissolved in 2014, having amassed a record number of appearances for the MLS side. The MLS Dispersal Draft was set up to find new clubs for the players that Chivas had left behind, and Kennedy found his way to FC Dallas. Despite wrestling first-team duties away from Chris Seitz early on, an injury would eventually see him lose his place to youngster Jesse González. With the club looking to focus on González’s development, and Kennedy seemingly unhappy on the bench, both parties felt it was best to part ways at the end of the 2015 season.

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With Kennedy now entering the later stages of his career, LA Galaxy will provide him with a decent chance of clinching his first ever MLS Cup title. With additions such as Ashley Cole and Nigel de Jong, the club appear to be in much better shape ahead of the new season, and if Kennedy can roll back the clock to 2011, he could certainly play a big part in determining where the club will be in nine months’ time.

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