The Portland Timbers host the LA Galaxy tonight in the US Open Cup’s round of 16 and in goal for the hosts will be rookie goalkeeper Wade Hamilton. Fans of the first team might not have seen Hamilton in action yet, so we got our resident T2 expert, Kevin McCamish, to give us the rundown on him.
First, can you just tell us a little bit about how Hamilton plays in goal? Jake Gleeson and Adam Kwarasey take very different approaches to the position, so where does Hamilton fall on that line?
It is difficult to determine for a few reasons. First, due to Kwarasey's injury Hamilton has been on the bench for the first team more than with T2 at this point in the season. So in addition to being in more games now, McIntosh also suffers from recency bias, in that his performances come to the front of my mind more than Hamilton's. But going back to the beginning of the season, Hamilton is more akin to Kwarasey than Gleeson in his keeping skills. In shot stopping and distribution he reminds me much more of Kwarasey than Gleeson. But he is still very rough and requires a lot more minutes to develop.
His shot stopping ability still needed more development at the time he went up to the 1st team. His record so far in only 6 games played is 1-4-1 with a 1.50 GAA. His single victory was a shutout in the 4th match of the season vs Sacramento Republic. So if people are nervous about him starting against LA Galaxy, even in a match where they are unlikely to bring their full might to bear, you would certainly be forgiven for the nerves.
A keeper's relationship with his back line is important to a team's defensive solidity, so how vocal is Hamilton and of the Timbers' possible defenders for tonight, which have shared a pitch with him so far?
One of the things early in T2 that I thought Hamilton really needed to work on (in addition to shot stopping/organization) was his communication. Having played 6 games to McIntosh's 9, Hamilton has faced almost as many shots on goal. In 3 fewer games. And as I mentioned earlier his record is only 1 win, 4 losses, and a draw. McIntosh is more even at 4-4-1. Two things (or more) could be the reason behind Hamilton facing more shots. He played early in the season when the entire team was still gelling. And, like the rest of T2, really needed to improve his communication. I think he could be much better than I remember him being if he continued to start for T2 but being the 3rd string keeper he was needed for the bench with the first team.
Hamilton is far more likely to find outside backs he has played with than center defenders. The organization has been rotating outside backs between the two teams fairly frequently, including Peay and Klute who could possibly see the pitch Wednesday night.
Kendall McIntosh will likely be on the bench tonight thanks to the rules for loaning a player up from the USL. Can you give us the rundown on the T2 keeper?
Kendall McIntosh got a shutout win in his USL debut once Hamilton was required to backup Gleeson. So it was an impressive start.
Both Hamilton and McIntosh have nearly identical save percentages (71% vs 71.4% respectively) and have faced nearly the same number of shots (32 SOG for Hamilton, 35 SOG for McIntosh) despite McIntosh playing 3 more games (270 more mins) than Hamilton. And with the better W-L-D record McIntosh has a respectable 1.11 GAA vs Hamilton's 1.50 GAA.
So I have all the faith in the world that McIntosh would be a perfectly capable backup in the match Wednesday night. In fact, if I had to choose between the two I think I would feel a tiny bit better having McIntosh in goal. I feel his organization and communication is better than Hamilton's. And he has, at this point now, more game minutes and has been active between the sticks more recently than Wade. But it is possible Hamilton has picked up a lot being in first team training with Gleeson and Adin Brown. So if Hamilton has been prepared and training well over the past two months then he can find success. But he will likely need to lean on the defense in front of him to be sharp and limit the LA chances as much as possible (obviously).