Wednesday, November 5, 2008

MLS GoalKeeper of the Year

Major League Soccer announced today that Chicago Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch was voted the 2008 Panasonic Goalkeeper of the Year.

Busch, 32, led the Chicago Fire to the playoffs in his first full season as a starter since 2004, when he was a member of the Columbus Crew. Busch started and played every minute (2,700) of all 30 regular season games for Chicago. He led the club to a second place finish in the Eastern Conference (13-10-7) and ranked first in the League in shutouts (10), was tied for second in wins (13) and second in goals against average (1.10).

Injuries plagued Busch's career during 2005 and 2006 with the Crew, and Chicago traded for him before the 2007 season. He served as a back up to Matt Pickens throughout most of 2007, but after Pickens departed, Busch took over the starting job. He played in 20 games combined from 2005-2007 and recorded just seven wins in that three-year stretch. But this season, Busch excelled, facing more shots than all but two MLS goalkeepers and recording the top save percentage mark at 78.2 percent. San Jose's Joe Cannon ranked second in save percentage at 74.7 percent.

Busch played five seasons in the USL prior to making his Major League Soccer debut in 2002. The former collegiate All-American at UNC Charlotte anchored a Fire defense that allowed a meager 33 goals, second-best in MLS this season. Busch becomes the 11th different player to win the Goalkeeper of the Year award. Only Cannon and Pat Onstad have won the award more than once. He led the voting ahead of Columbus Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer and New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis, the other finalists named last week.

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