Hartman boosts FCD goalkeeping depth

Two-time MLS Cup winner could challenge Sala for starting job

FRISCO, Texas -- The FC Dallas goalkeeping ranks added a big name with Monday's announcement that club had signed 35-year-old goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, most recently of the Kansas City Wizards. At least initially, Hartman is thought to be fellow 35-year-old and current starter Dario Sala's backup but the four-time all-star and two-time MLS Cup champion could challenge the Argentinean in fairly short order for the No. 1 spot.

"I'm excited to be in Dallas. The organization really kind of stepped up at a time when rosters are virtually locked up, which says a lot about the coaches and the organization," Hartman said. "My hopes are to come in, work hard, get some respect from my teammates and to try and win a championship."

With FCD, he already has several familiar faces from his decade spent with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

"In the past, I played with Ugo Ihemelu and Daniel Hernandez when I was with the Galaxy. I played with Heath (Pearce), Dax (McCarty) and Jeff (Cunningham) with the (U.S.) national team. I know Dario (Sala) from players' union stuff and off-field type things," he said. "They're all great individuals and solid guys. They're all wonderful players. I look forward to catching up with them all."

One of Hartman's new teammates has already welcomed him to Frisco.

"Ugo (Ihemelu) already shot me a message on Facebook welcoming me to the team. I look forward to getting in there to the locker room tomorrow, saying hello to everybody and meeting some new guys. I had the opportunity to train today with the goalkeeper coach in Dallas, Drew (Keeshan) and met some of the coaches," he said. "I actually trained with a young goalkeeper by the name of Sean (Kelley). It's cool. You get to meet new people and try to branch out a little bit. I like the whole change thing."

With the move to FCD, Hartman will now call Pizza Hut Park home, the site of the Galaxy's win in MLS Cup 2005, their second league championship.

"Yeah, it's funny because a lot of the pictures I have on my computer are from great moments in my career and a lot of them are from Pizza Hut Park. We were able to win the double in 2005 and that was the culmination of everything," he said. "It was great. The facilities here have been unbelievable. I've been amazed at how great everything is here. There is everything that a professional athlete could ask for. Everything is first class."

However, the last time he was in Frisco, he was on the losing end of an FCD 6-0 barrage last summer, Curt Onalfo's last game as head coach of the Wizards.

"Dallas was very, very good. There is no denying that," Hartman recalled. "Obviously, Jeff Cunningham was in great form and they just really took advantage of us. It was one of those things where everything that could go right for Dallas went right and unfortunately for Kansas City, it was just the opposite. There are going to be times like that and it's all just a matter of how you react to it. I was able to get through it and hopefully, it's made me a better player. You learn from every mistake you make and you want to try and not repeat them."

Hartman plans to wear the same number he did in K.C.

"I'll probably wear No. 1. Nobody else is using it and it seems like a sound goalkeeper number," he said. "I was actually wearing No. 22 the entire time that I was in Los Angeles, so that was 10 years I was wearing that number. Then, when I went to Kansas City, I wore No. 1. No. 22 actually has special meaning but I'm content with No. 1. I'm not that big of a numerologist but No. 1, No. 22, No. 18, there are certain numbers that are usually goalkeeper numbers. Since 1 was available, I figured I'd grab it."

The deal to bring Hartman to Dallas started coming together about one week ago. Hartman did not have his contract renewed by the Wizards, though that club still held his rights within MLS.

"I think it was probably early last week that we started talking. Then, I received a call from the higher-ups with the new organization that they wanted to bring me in," Hartman said. "They asked me if I was interested and I was absolutely interested. I think I was in such an awkward spot that if I had known in November that I wouldn't be with Kansas City any more, there are a lot more opportunity to look at the international transfer market and go look at a bunch of different things.

"But to be in February or early March looking for a club is not very convenient for anybody. So then, it just became a matter of trying to make the numbers work. It was going to be a multi-year deal. I understood that this year, I would take a hit but if I was able to prove my worth, I wanted to get back to where I was previously. That was one of the things that we worked out. It was mutually beneficial. I was able to get here on Sunday night and get my physicals done. It was able to be finalized yesterday afternoon."

Hartman will join his new club for a six-day trip to Tampa where FCD plays a pair of matches beginning Wednesday.

Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com.