It’s been a calculated process for Stephen Keel as he reaches full fitness in preseason 2014 and the veteran cleared a big hurdle in Sunday morning’s 2-0 Reserve League win over Montreal.
Keel played all 90 minutes in the shutout victory, scoring the second goal while marshalling a strong defensive performance to preserve the shutout.
“It was good. A good performance from the guys and always good to keep the shutout,” Keel said after the game. “2-0 and we’ll take that in the first game. It feels great to be back out there running with the guys.”
Indeed this was Keel’s first competitive 90-minute performance of the year and his solid play suggests he could push for a spot on Saturdays in the very near future. Playing against a strong Montreal reserve team including 2013 MLS All-Stars Marco Di Vaio and Patrice Bernier, FCD held strong scoring two goals while keeping 20-goal scorer Di Vaio off the scoreboard.
“He’s proven he’s one of the top strikers in our league. I was excited when I saw he was playing to play 90 minutes against him,” said Keel. “That’s what you want. You want to measure yourself against the best. It’s not just me the whole back line starting with Richard [Sanchez], we’ll take it.”
While Keel will certainly be particularly proud of the clean sheet, there’s no doubt he’ll take a smile or two from scoring the second goal of the match as well. Partnered with his first career MLS goal in FCD’s final game of 2013, the 30-year-old has now put together a little bit of a scoring streak.
“Peter’s dynamite on the free kicks. We saw it with Mauro [Saturday] and Peter today,” said Keel. “It was one of the easier goals I’ll score, but I’ll tell you what, I’ve learned from different guys that at the end of the day they all count the same, so I’ll take it.”