CARSON, Calif. – Donovan Ricketts did his part to help the LA Galaxy win the Supporters’ Shield, and he has earned his due reward.
Ricketts was named the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year on Wednesday, the culmination of an impressive second season in the league when he posted 11 shutouts and anchored the Galaxy’s back line en route to the league's best regular-season record.
Ricketts – who beat out Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando and FC Dallas veteran Kevin Hartman – said the award was the top honor of his career, unless something better comes along soon.
“Maybe [the award is] No. 1, because it’s the first time I’ve been named goalkeeper of the year in anything,” Ricketts said after training on Wednesday. “One out of one. It’s No. 1 for the time being, but it will soon be replaced by MLS Cup.”
WATCH: Ricketts' best moments from 2010
Ricketts won the award on the heels of another stellar outing last Sunday in Seattle, where he came up with eight saves to help the Galaxy post a 1-0 win over the Sounders in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinal Series.
His best moment came in the 23rd minute, when he came up with a point-blank save on a header from Sounders phenom Fredy Montero.
“He’s been great, and he’s put in 29 of the 30 games in goal,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “That’s part of it as well, the durability of goalkeepers. Donovan has been able to give us 29 good games and our opponents average under a goal a game. If you’re able to do that, you’re able to win games.”
Ricketts and the Galaxy got off to a fantastic start this season. The Jamaican international picked up shutouts in his first three games and had eight shutouts in his first 10 games. Los Angeles had only allowed four goals entering July and had a massive lead on the rest of the league.
“It’s been a tremendous team effort,” Ricketts said. “At the beginning of the season, we were rock solid. We fell away a little, but we picked it up. I’ve had my bad days and the team has helped me out a lot. Each game is different and a different player steps up to the plate. Sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s Omar [Gonzalez], sometimes it’s Gregg [Berhalter] or whoever, but I think it’s been a wonderful team effort."
Ricketts finished with seven shutouts on the road this year and 0.67 goals-against-average, second behind Hartman (0.62). He becomes the second Galaxy goalkeeper to win the award, after Hartman took the honor while he was with the club in 1999.
The Montego Bay native is also the first goalkeeper from outside the US and Canada to win the award. He turned down an opportunity to play with the Jamaican national team in order to play in the Galaxy’s 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire on Sept. 4.
“It’s a good feeling,” Ricketts said. “Being a goalkeeper in this league, it’s very hard. There are many good goalkeepers, so to be named Goalkeeper of the Year is really an honor.”
Ricketts and the Galaxy will host the Sounders at The Home Depot Center in the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, ESPN). BUY TICKETS
Ready to launch: MLS Matchday 2010, The new official MLS iPhone app. It's FREE! Download it here!