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2014 Philadelphia Union Player Review: Zac MacMath

Once considered the goalkeeper of the future, there is little hope to see him between the posts with the Union crest on his kit again. Is is really time to give up on the young keeper?

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Summary

The 2014 season began with Zac MacMath looking over his shoulder at the sudden threat to his starting spot, coming when the team traded up to get the number one overall pick and used it to draft Andre Blake, another goalkeeper. Then after holding down the starting spot for most of the season, his role was once again thrown into doubt when Rais M'Bolhi was brought in to bring experience (and age) to the Union. His play improved in his appearances over those in previous years, but that was not enough to avoid speculation on his roster spot and MacMath's career in Philadelphia.

What did he do right?

The young keeper had always shown a lack of confidence in dealing with crosses in to the box, and in 2014 he showed an improved handling of that previous kryptonite.  There may not be any hard stats or numbers to back up that claim, but it was much easier watching him this season than in previous years. He has always been a decent shot stopper, but his improved play gave great confidence that in the future he could compete with Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson as the next wave of great American goalkeepers.

What did he do wrong?

The biggest negative to MacMath's season was the Philadelphia Union front office. Yeah, yeah, I know that is nothing that really has to do with him, but the biggest problem was that Nick Sakiewicz and company are seemingly never happy when it comes to whomever is wearing the gloves. First Andre Blake and then Rais M'Bolhi were brought in to compete for - and ultimately take over - MacMath's job.

By way of stats, there was a lot to be desired by MacMath's 2014 season. His career stats since taking over the starting role in 2012 reached career lows in games played, games started, minutes, saves, shutouts, and wins. While most of those statistics (such as games played, minutes, etc.) are well out of his own hands, he still has a great deal of effect on what gets past him.

Most memorable moment

MacMath's most memorable moment (try saying that five times fast) is not a single moment, but a string of moments. Much like how Sebastien LeToux has proven to be automatic from the penalty spot, MacMath was able to deny three of the seven penalty kicks faced, an almost impossible 50% save percentage on spot kicks. This also includes his heroic performance in the penalty shootout that ultimately sent the Union to the U.S. Open Cup Final. The kicker is expected to finish the goal, but each time Zac took up his spot on the goal line, you almost expected him to save it, or at the very least, getting a finger to it.

Future expectations

As the season came to a close I would have put money on seeing MacMath head for the exit door. With the expansion draft in the rear view mirror and announcements of signings and trades happening all around the league the goalkeeping openings are slowly being filled. With each passing day the likelihood of MacMath returning to Philadelphia increases. There seems to be no interest in the keeper within the league, which means the chances of a team swooping in during the International Transfer Window is even less likely.

From a keeper touted as possibly challenging Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson for the next wave of USMNT keeper to odd man out in a three keeper pile in Philadelphia, 2014 was a terrible year for Zac MacMath and the way things are shaping up, 2015 doesn't look all that promising, either.