FRISCO, Texas – Kevin Hartman has been nothing short of stellar in goal this year for FC Dallas, and he has the stats to prove it.
His 0.58 goals against average is the best in the league, and he's inching closer to the single-season franchise record for shutouts heading into Thursday's matchup against the New York Red Bulls. Hartman has nine clean sheets to his credit this year, two shy of the mark set in 1999 by Matt Jordan.
“Matt is somebody I still have a ton of respect for,” Hartman said. “I know Mark Dodd is somebody that was here for a long time that I loved watching. There’s a history of goalkeeping at FC Dallas that I have a lot of respect for. It would certainly be an honor to be up there for the top of that.”
With a 10-1-8 record in his starts, it’s hard for anyone to discount the positive impact Hartman has had since joining up during the preseason after he left Kansas City.
“I think he’s been tremendous this year,” FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “He’s absolutely exceeded our expectations when he’s stepped in and done as well as he has.
"He’s done a fantastic job on the point blank saves, on the rebound shots and even the coordination with the defenders, that leadership and communication. All those things are tangibles that you find yourself in a world of hurt if you don’t have them.”
[inline_node:316904]FC Dallas have found themselves in anything but a world of hurt. The club is on a 14-match unbeaten run and currently sit in third place in the Western Conference, six points behind the league-leading LA Galaxy. Hartman has recorded seven of his nine shutouts during the streak.
“It’s not just the shutouts that are a testament to him, it’s the goals against,” Hyndman said. “It’s the streak the team is on. All those things add up to a good goalkeeper, a good defense and players that are working on both sides of the ball.”
A majority of Hartman’s shutouts have come with a stable back four in front of him. Recently, however, injuries have led to defensive changes. Rookie Zach Loyd has started the five games since Ugo Ihemelu suffered a concussion on Aug. 8 against Philadelphia.
George John, Ihemelu’s usual partner in central defense, did not play in last Saturday’s scoreless draw at San Jose. Loyd partnered with fellow rookie Jackson Gonçalves, who filled in admirably before picking up a knock in the second half and being replaced by Kyle Davies.
But Hartman has seen no drop off when the starters have been unavailable for selection.
“We know what the expectations are,” Hartman said. “We know what kind of system we’re going to play. But the reality is, guys come in with a real mentality of being willing to help the group. That’s something that goes a long way."