For better or for worse, Orlando City's netminders had more opportunities than most to make saves in 2015 because of the inconsistent lineup and relative inexperience of the defensive squad from match to match. During the first ten matches of the season, Donovan Ricketts registered 21 saves and two shutout performances. His presence with the team and on the pitch for the first few matches was very helpful to the club in getting Orlando City out of the season starting gate on the right foot.
After finishing his physical rehab from the 2014 injury, Tally Hall then came into the club and provided some incredibly physical play in net for the team. During his 23 matches on the pitch, he registered 73 saves and five shutouts for the club before being injured in the final home match on October 16.
Even emergency reserve keeper Josh Ford got a chance to play some in net in the final two matches and he recorded five saves for the team in his 96 minutes of league play.
But with all that, I can't award my Save of the Season to any of the goalkeepers, because they made saving goals look so routine. No, my save of the season goes to a player who was known more for his contributions on the attack and who scored several goals from free kicks for the USMNT in 2015. That's right, I'm awarding my 2015 Save of the Season to Brek Shea.
Shea was awarded the MLS Save of the Week for an amazing goal-line save in the April 3 match against DC United. Shea was playing in the left side defender spot, where Coach Heath had been starting him before the injury that ended Kevin Molino's season. In the 68th minute, DC United was awarded a free kick from about midfield that began a well-organized attack that crossed from the right side of the pitch to the left and eventually drew goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts out near the top left corner of his own 6-yard box.
In an incredible sequence that looked like something out of a pinball game, DC United's Doyle lasered a shot that Ricketts deflected with a diving save, only to see the ball roll right to the feet of a charging Chris Pontius, who rifled a shot at the center of what could have been an undefended net. But Shea was on the goal line, and he extended a long, lanky left foot out in front of the ball to send it skyward and back out to the middle of the 18-yard box. Another DC United player managed to get a head on the ball and send it back toward the net, but by that time, Ricketts was back on his feet and was able to deflect the ball over the top of the net.
You can watch Shea's heroic save below, courtesy of mlssoccer.com.
What about you? Do you agree that this was the save of the season? If not, what is your candidate for save of the year? Let me know in the comments!