The Philadelphia Union bolstered their already strong goalkeeping unit when they signed John McCarthy to backup Rais M'Bolhi and Andre Blake. McCarthy, a 2013 LaSalle graduate, had as good a rookie year for the Rochester Rhinos in USL PRO as a player can have, winning Goalkeeper of the Year and Rookie of the Year Award with a 0.72 goals against average. Brotherly Game caught up with Brendan Doherty (@DohertySoccer), the Rochester Rhinos correspondent for RecklessChallenge (@RcklessChllenge), who followed McCarthy's rookie season closely. Brendan was a gracious to share his thoughts on how he sees that performance translating to MLS.
tBG: What kind of a person and player did the Union get in John McCarthy?
BD: John McCarthy is a natural leader. Talking to him throughout the 2014 USL PRO season, I always got the sense that McCarthy constantly wanted to drive on. He was never content with a clean sheet if the team didn't get the win. He told me he would gladly trade in his personal plaudits (Goalkeeper and Rookie of the Year in USL PRO) to give his teammates the Championship trophy.
tBG: While he was USL PRO goalkeeper of the year, he isn't playing in Europe or on the USMNT radar. Where does he stumble and what should Union fans watch out for?
BD: McCarthy really suffered from the timing of a hand injury during 2014 preseason. He had been training up in Seattle and may have pushed himself on the roster as the third goalkeeper if he was fully fit. While he is very assertive on the field, his exuberance got the better of him a couple times and affected his decision making. That said, a year's worth of experience and coaching, both in Rochester and recently in Philadelphia, should improve his composure.
tBG: With the Union's other two goalkeepers normally called for international duty, John McCarthy figures to start a number of games. How do you project McCarthy will play as an MLS keeper?
BD: John was lights out in USL PRO last season. There were several goalkeepers who impressed and McCarthy was excellent to set himself apart. He is an athletic goalkeeper who has no qualms about jumping into a scrum to grab a cross or a corner despite his concussion helmet. Perhaps he won't be a Neuer-esque sweeper-keeper right off the bat but he clearly possesses the fundamental skills to stand in and the eager tenacity to learn on the job.