FRISCO – Homegrown goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez made three saves in a dominant 5-1 win over rivals Houston Dynamo Sunday night, becoming just the fourth player to reach 250 all-time MLS saves for FC Dallas. While the milestone is a testament to his longevity, it also offers an opportunity to recognize Gonzalez’s progression and evolution since his introduction into the first-team in 2015.
Blessed with innate reflexes and a rangy 6-foot-4 frame, Gonzalez has all the ingredients of a top-class goalkeeper. However, as with many young keepers, Gonzalez’s early career was marred with inconsistency—one moment making a seemingly impossible save and the next an unforced error.
But the 2019 season has been a different story for Gonzalez. The Dallas native has stepped up to become one of the most consistent performances for the club, and his progress is just the most recent accomplishment of FC Dallas’ youth development model.
“Jesse has definitely been a success story for FC Dallas and for the Homegrown process; and the Dallas community at large,” said FC Dallas’ Director of Soccer Operations Marco Ferruzzi, who’s been watching Gonzalez’s development since the goalkeeper first joined the FCD Academy as a 16-year-old. “The great thing to see over time has been the development and maturation of a young player, a young person. He’s really come into his own recently. He’s always been an extraordinary talent and an attractive talent, but when you’re able to watch someone grow into the environment you really get to appreciate their path.”
Gonzalez’s newfound consistency is not the only hallmark of his progression this season. He’s quickly become one of the best passing goalkeepers in MLS, registering a 79% passing accuracy, 4% higher than any other starting keeper. Also, while there isn’t a metric to measure it, Gonzalez is noticeably more vocal and communicative on the field than in seasons past.
Although just 24, Gonzalez is in the midst of his fifth season which makes him one of the veterans in MLS’ youngest team; and he’s beginning to take a leadership role within the squad.
“His mindset in this preseason was different from what I’ve seen before,” head goalkeeper coach Drew Keeshan said. “The approach off the field has been great from Jesse. He’s been a leader in that aspect too and I think we’re seeing the fruits of that this year for sure.”
“It’s a young team which puts him as an elder statesman even though he’s still very young for a professional,” Ferruzzi added. “His distribution this year has been much improved from the last couple of years because there’s been a real focus and concentration on it. Now you’re adding that to what he’s always done instinctively and he’s putting together an even better package.”
While Gonzalez’s progress has impressed the technical staff this season, he’s quick to underline their role in his evolution over the years.
“The main part is all the confidence the coach gives you,” Gonzalez said. “That’s one of the things that makes me comfortable playing with my feet and wanting to improve, having that confidence that the head coach or goalkeeper coach gives you. It’s all part of that.”