Zac MacMath - He's big, he's yellow?

I got it... Oops, I don't got it ! - Jamie Sabau

Zac's a great athlete and fantastic shot stopper. Unfortunately there is much more to the dangerous and dark art of keeping goal.

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2014-03-08-POR-v-PHI/highlights/246657
http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2014-05-17-PHI-v-NE/highlights/255291
First of all let me say that I don't hate MacMath and I am not a 'hater'.  I will tell anyone that Zac MacMath is a great shot-stopper.   His ability to recover and bounce up off the ground to make another save is nothing short of (adopts JP Dellacamera voice) incredible.  He is even better at saving penalties, so much so that this particular Limey would like to see if England could borrow him for any penalty shoot outs in Brazil this summer.  If you put together a selected highlight reel of all his saves and acrobatic, athletic moments for the Union you could easily say (based off that evidence alone) that he is an amazing goalkeeper.  The reality is that he is a great athlete and shot stopper, average at most other things, but sorely lacking in commanding his box.

There is no stat for "flaps" or "should have come for that cross but didn't."  Nor is there a category called "stands rooted to his line like a deer in headlights instead of confidently charging and claiming a ball in the air."  The other difficulty in finding a metric for "aerial dominance of the keeper's box" is that examples are hard to find in highlight videos.  Claiming floated crosses or coming for balls off corners that are in the six yard box should be a matter of routine.  How many times this season (and past) have you seen The Union pump cross after cross or countless corners in to the opposition's area only to see them either headed away or claimed by the keeper?

A good keeper helps out his back four by being a commanding presence in the air.  It is easier to defend when you know your keeper has your back and that he will deal with any soft stuff in the air - that allows you to do your job of marking your man and leaving the ball to the slightly odd chap between the sticks (let's face it - most keepers are at least a little bit weird).  Unfortunately MacMath's lack of ability or perhaps more tellingly, lack of bravery in coming to deal with trash in his box has led to many needless goals being given up and with them points lost.

The following videos are only a sample of what I could find and are by no means exhaustive.  What they do show without question is that MacMath keeps making the same tentative, bad decisions which lead to goals or goal-scoring opportunities.  On the rare occasions when he does come for a ball it almost inevitably ends up with a poor outcome.

A prime example is the first goal conceded against NE this past Saturday.  Keep watching the replays closely and notice that MacMath comes for the ball (as he should, it is in the six) but he jumps at thin air and tries to punch without using his body.  Instead of going to contact with the striker / defender he AVOIDS contact, arching his back away and meekly punching at thin air.

Here are some more examples:

2014 Season

Portland equalizer - okay, I know there are plenty to blame for this one apart from Zac but read my reasoning:

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2014-03-08-POR-v-PHI/highlights/246657

Stuck on his line, hugging his near post (what goalie does that on a corner?)  Nobody was within 10 yards of Carroll who fluffed his clearance.  MacMath should have seen that soft, floated ball, recognized the fact that nobody was anywhere near and come and claimed it.  Sure, there was plenty of blame to go around, however if MacMath was in the habit of dominating his area this is a ball that he claims easily.

Chicago equalizer

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2014-04-05-CHI-v-PHI/highlights/249642

Again, stuck on his line at the near post, too afraid to move.  A long, floated free kick that travelled a long way and should have been claimed.  He kinda went to get it then realized, "oh no" - by that time it was too late and he was nowhere.

RSL

Tentative coming off his line.  Avoids contact and does not get the ball.

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2014-04-12-PHI-v-RSL/highlights/250431

2013 Season

SKC - decides to come, then changes mind.  Too late again for their first goal.

http://www.philadelphiaunion.com/news/2013/10/match-recap-mcinerney-nets-equalizer-sporting-closes-out-affair-close-playoff-hopes

MTL

First goal is another long, floated free kick.  Nobody in front of MacMath - should have claimed / punched it away.  Instead he is frozen on his line.

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2013-10-19-MTL-v-PHI/highlights/236946

HOU   1-0 game

Another floated ball - another occasion where MacMath decides to come for it, then decides against it and backs up.  Again, too late and he is out of position to react to the header.  He could have claimed / punched it.

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2013-09-14-PHI-v-HOU/highlights/233539

San Jose   1-0 game

All over the place, neither comes nor goes and ends up looking like a Sunday league keeper.

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2013-09-08-SJ-v-PHI/highlights/232903

Hou  1-0 game

Another cross IN TO THE SIX - nobody in front of him, MacMath decides to come for it, then decides against it.  Ends up flailing at nothing.

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2013-07-06-HOU-v-PHI/highlights/225806

DAL

Last second equalizer.  Comes for the floated soft cross and is meek and weak.  NOT a foul, and he knows it - his protests are more in desperation and not borne out of a true sense of injustice.

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2013-06-29-PHI-v-DAL/highlights/224818

MTL

Header where yet AGAIN, MacMath decides to come for it, then decides against it leaving him out of position and thus rendered ineffective.  Ends up flailing at nothing.

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2013-05-25-MTL-v-PHI/highlights/221287

LAG

The crowning glory - own goal off Zac's face as he is unable to punch or catch a ball which is kind of his job.

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2013-05-15-PHI-v-LA/highlights/220171

SEA

The classic "you have to be in front of the goal line to make a save" moment.  Perhaps due to his lack of confidence on set plays?

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2013-05-04-PHI-v-SEA/highlights/218764

DC Utd.

Another cross, another headed goal.  Maybe this is a tough one, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility for a goalie to come and punch this one away.

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2013-04-21-DC-v-PHI/highlights/217540

TOR

Soft, floated cross in the air for a good while - leads to a header where yet AGAIN, MacMath decides to come for it, then decides against it leaving him out of position and thus rendered ineffective.  Luckily the header goes wide.  Are we sensing a pattern?

http://www.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2013-04-13-PHI-v-TOR/highlights/216569

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