In the new age of possession soccer, goalkeepers seemingly get as much attention today for their passing skills as they do for their ability to record a clean sheet.
For Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall, the trend has not caught on, but at the same time has not affected him too much.
While getting the ball out of the back safely is a priority for Houston, a goalkeeper’s main priorities are the same as they ever were: keeping a zero on the board and his club in a game. So far, Hall has done both to perfection.
“I think everyone’s going out there looking for a goalkeeper that can do a sidewinder kick that can get to a forward, but the name of the game is keeping the ball out of the net,” defender Bobby Boswell said. “I think the most important thing is shot blocking and not making mistakes that can cost you games and Tally’s been consistent over his career at not making mistakes that can cost you games.”
If keeping clean sheets is the primary goal, Hall has gotten off to a rousing start this season. The 27-year-old netminder has helped the Dynamo to two shutout wins against two potent attacks – vs. D.C. United in their season opener and against Santos Laguna in CONCACAF Champions League play last week. But while he has backed Houston's two shutouts, his game this season has so far been more about staying consistent than making saves – he has only had to make three stops this season.
With that being the case, Hall can now shift his attention towards his distribution. Against Santos Laguna, the 'keeper dangerously turned the ball over on a handful of occasions but that is part of the learning process for Hall as he attempts to further improve and become a more complete goalkeeper.
“I think my distribution has improved. I think there’s a level I want to get to that I’m not there yet, but I feel more confident than I ever have,” Hall said. “As a goalkeeper, there’s always going to be times when people are going to say ‘What was he doing?’ I know that. When I go into a game I know I have to be consistent.”
The fact that Hall can focus on the finer points of the game like distribution and tendencies is a sign that his progress with the basics, namely shot stopping and positioning, have reached a certain standard from a coaching staff that demands a lot.
"He’s gotten so good at keeping it out of the net that he can focus on other stuff,” Dynamo goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley said. “He’s refining other aspects of his game right now, and he’s more than adequate and better than pretty much anyone in the league. All those other finer points, he’s putting the whole package together.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.