Keller wins second Honda Player of Year Award
LOS ANGELES -- Kasey Keller knows it will be time to retire when he's no longer capable of making the spectacular diving saves that have become his trademark.
The way he's going, that may be a few years.
Keller won the Honda Award on Wednesday as the best player on the U.S. national team, adding it to the trophy he earned in 1999.
"I want to keep playing as long as I can still compete mentally and physically," said the balding goalkeeper, who turned 36 on Tuesday. "I don't want to have people saying, 'That guy should have retired last year."'
His outstanding play this year was a key to the United States clinching a berth in next year's World Cup in Germany.
Does he ever feel his age?
"Only when I wake up in the morning," he said, chuckling.
Landon Donovan, who won the past three years, and DaMarcus Beasley were the other finalists. Keller received 344 points in voting by 206 sports journalists nationwide, while Donovan got 329 and Beasley 270.
"He's totally deserving. I would have been a little embarrassed if he hadn't won," said the 23-year-old Donovan, who played this season for the Major League Soccer champion Los Angeles Galaxy.
U.S. coach Bruce Arena spoke of a string of Keller's saves during this year's World Cup qualifying as "his own highlight film."
Beasley, who plays for PSV Eindhoven of the Dutch league, said in a TV hookup from the Netherlands, "I can't believe the way he is playing at 35. He's at the peak of his career."
The goalkeeper corrected his age, and Arena quipped, "Now I'm concerned. I didn't realize he'd just turned 36."
Keller played in a career-high 14 games for the American team this year, setting goalkeeping records with nine wins and eight shutouts. He finished with a 0.56 goals-against average.
He has a total of 44 shutouts in 89 appearances with the national team, including 19 shutouts in World Cup qualifying matches.
A member of Borussia Moenchengladbach of Germany's Bundesliga, Keller took a 14-hour flight to Los Angeles to pick up his trophy. Donovan was one of the first to congratulate his teammate, smiling and giving him a hug.
Keller, who had a quick turnaround to get back to Germany for a game this weekend, said after receiving his award, "This probably will be the last time you see me up here."
He smiled and added, "And maybe not."