Jesse Gonzalez has turned many heads during Luchi’s first year as head coach. Many of the complaints that fans had of him have dissipated due to his improved performances this year. He has been an integral part of the 3rd best defense in the league, and his growth has been a testament to his potential.
Last week’s game against RSL is just one example of his exemplary play this year. By the numbers, Jesse Gonzalez has the second-lowest Goals against average for goalkeepers with more that 10 starts. He has the 4th highest save percentage with .714 and has conceded 22 goals, the lowest number of goals conceded by a goalkeeper with higher than 20 starts.
His goalkeeping quality was never in doubt, however. There may have been some bumps during his career, but he has always been considered one of the best young goalkeepers in the league. But in a possession-driven system that Luchi has adopted this year, there was a certain fear whether or not he would be able to step up to the task.
This year, the 24-year old Academy goalie has the highest passing percentage of any goalkeeper in the league with 78%. Out of all the goalkeepers in the league, he has the 4th highest number of passes (623), the most number of accurate short passes (395), and the highest number of short passes per 90 (18.8) for players with more than 15 appearances.
The passing map above is one of his better performances with the ball at his feet, which was against SKC a couple of weeks ago. It’s worth noting that the failed passes consisted of punts and clearances, and not short passes in the defense’s own third. Also, none of the failed passes occurred in the first half, which is a feet in and of itself. This game shows the role that Jesse has in the system. Even in precarious situations, which occurred multiple times in the first half against SKC, Jesse still goes for the pass.
He has the second lowest amount of long balls per 90 and the third lowest total long balls for goalkeepers with higher than 15 appearances.
In the match against Toronto FC on June 22nd, Jesse did not have a single failed pass. Although this is a generous game to use as a sample, it also shows, yet again, that Luchi doesn’t want Gonzalez to go for the long ball (There was only one attempted long ball, as seen above).
Not every performance has stellar passing. Against LAFC on May 20th, Gonzalez had a passing accuracy of 64.5%, which is is one of the lowest of the year for him. However, this is still higher than his average passing accuracy last year of 61%, and most of the failed clearances by Gonzalez occurred in the final 25 minutes.
Gonzalez has been on Greg Berhalter’s radar, as shown by Gonzalez’s surprise call-up for the Chile friendly back in March, but he is currently below many other goalkeepers. His passing, however, is an asset that Berhalter looks for in a goalkeeper.
As the youngest goalkeeper to start over 15 games this year, Jesse only has more room for growth. His performances this year deserved to be recognized, and hopefully, he continues to grow into a player that can help the club in the future.
Featured Image: Prosoccerusa.com