After a tumultuous month on and off the goal line, Kevin Hartman seems to be firmly in the mix for FC Dallas going forward.
The veteran leads FC Dallas into Saturday’s matchup against the Philadelphia Union at Lincoln Financial Field coming off perhaps his best outing of the year, an air-tight showing in a 1-0 win over D.C. United last weekend at Pizza Hut Pak that cemented him as FCD’s starting goalkeeper.
“Personally, it’s been great to get out there and have an opportunity to kind of prove myself. My biggest thing is just making sure that I’m providing a backbone for the guys in front of me that they’re confident in,” Hartman said. “That’s something as a guy who has been here for a month or whatever doesn’t really come naturally. You have to prove it. For me, it’s been an honor to be out there plugging away and making some saves for the guys.”
Hartman has battled with 2009 starter Dario Sala for the top spot this season since March -- with mixed results. Hartman earned the nod for a 2-2 draw against Columbus on April 3, and then allowed four goals behind a patchwork FCD defense in a 4-2 loss to D.C. United in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match on April 28.
But after a Sala gaffe led to the Revolution’s only goal in a 1-1 draw against the Revs on May 1, Hartman was slotted into the top spot again for a 1-0 win over Houston on May 5. That served as FCD’s first win of the season and a bit of a confidence boost for Hartman, who’s seen the team’s attitude change since topping their intrastate rivals.
“Obviously, coming off two 1-0 victories, it feels good for everyone. It shows that we’re able to defend over 90 minutes and really manage a game,” Hartman said. “Games earlier in the season that we really weren’t getting three points from, we now find a way to do it. So, that’s something for everybody that’s great.”
Personally, Hartman continues to shake off the nerves since moving from Kansas City, where he carved his niche as one of the most reliable veterans in the league.
“I’ve changed clubs twice in my career. My first change, I was in Los Angeles, which was still like home to me. So that wasn’t a big change,” Hartman said. “The Kansas City thing was a huge change and this is my second big change in my life in terms of playing soccer. So, it’s something that I’m getting more and more comfortable with. I’m enjoying it every day, getting out here and competing with the guys. I love Dallas. So far, it’s been enjoyable for me.”