CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Donovan Ricketts doesn’t especially like to talk about individual awards. All he cares about is winning MLS Cup.
But the 33-year-old Jamaican international couldn’t help but feel especially proud on Wednesday when it was announced he had been named the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Ricketts received the most votes in a poll of players, general managers, coaches and members of the media and beat out the likes of FC Dallas’ Kevin Hartman and Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando for the honor, the team’s first since Hartman won it with the club in 1999.
“It’s a good feeling,” Ricketts said. “There are very high-quality goalkeepers in this league. To be named Goalkeeper of the Year really is an honor.
“To be honest, I think (Hartman and Rimando) had better seasons statistically. In this league it’s about statistics. It’s a big surprise to me to have won.”
Ricketts’ numbers weren’t exactly shabby. He set a club record with a 0.90 goals against average after allowing just 26 goals (the fewest in team history) in 29 games and had a league-best record of 18-7-4 and a club record-tying 11 shutouts.
He is a two-time All-Star whose career 0.96 goals-against average is the lowest in league history among goalkeepers who have played at least 500 minutes. In his two seasons in Los Angeles, the Galaxy have allowed just 57 goals in 60 regular-season games after allowing a team-record 62 goals in 30 games in 2008.
“It’s a great honor,” Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena said. “I think all three of those guys were certainly worthy of winning the honor. We’re real happy it fell to Donovan.”
Even after voting had closed, Ricketts had one of his best games of the year last Sunday at Seattle’s Qwest Field, where the Galaxy played the Sounders in the first leg of their home-and-home Western Conference Semifinal Series. He finished with a season-high eight saves, including seven in the first half, to lead the Galaxy to a 1-0 victory. Game two of the series is Sunday at The Home Depot Center.
The victory did not come without its share of anxious moments, especially during the first half when Ricketts dove to make a save and appeared to have suffered a slight injury. He pointed to his left shoulder to let the bench know he was in some discomfort.
“Yes, I tweaked something,” he said Tuesday. “I was just making Bruce aware just in case I gave a goal away I had wanted to show it’s the shoulder, not me,” he went on with a laugh.
Coming out was not an option, according to midfielder Eddie Lewis, who gave Ricketts some encouragement – “I just kind of reassured him a little bit, basically, and at the same time kind of threatened him,” he said with a grin – because he knew how important Ricketts has been to the team’s fortunes since he arrived on the scene last season.
“I don’t think there’s any question how successful he’s been for us,” Lewis said. “We’re just fortunate to have him.”
Left back Todd Dunivant said he has tried not to think about where the Galaxy would be without Ricketts and said his teammate deserved the award.
“I hope he shares his bonus with the back line,” Dunivant joked.
Ricketts, asked where this honor ranked, said, “Maybe No. 1 because it’s the first times I’ve been goalkeeper of the year in anything … one out of one.
“I think it’s No. 1 for the time being, but it’s going to be replaced by the MLS Cup.”
LISTEN: Ricketts talks to media after training