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Originally published April 9, 2011 at 7:43 PM | Page modified April 9, 2011 at 7:43 PM

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Keller comes up big for Sounders

Kasey Keller called it a good day's work, hardly interested in self-praise after making a handful of standout saves in Sounders FC's 2-1 win Saturday against the Chicago Fire.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Kasey Keller called it a good day's work, hardly interested in self-praise after making a handful of standout saves in Sounders FC's 2-1 win Saturday against the Chicago Fire.

"The win is what stands out," Keller said. "The saves are what they pay me to do."

Consider the week's paycheck earned.

And while the veteran goalkeeper had little to say about his own effort, his teammates, coaches and opponents had plenty.

"It was world class," coach Sigi Schmid said of the team captain's four-save showing. "That was Kasey Keller from his prime. ... To be able to still manage and come up with performances like that is a tribute to the work he does on a daily basis."

Keller, who has announced he will retire after this season, made his first big stop in the 59th minute when a deflected free kick fell to the feet of Chicago forward Diego Chaves for an open shot from 12 yards. The ball seemed destined for the corner of the net until the Sounders' 41-year-old goalkeeper blocked it firmly with his left hand in spectacular diving fashion.

"He was clearly the man of the match," said Chaves, who scored earlier in the eighth minute to tie the game at 1-1.

But Keller wasn't finished.

Two minutes later, Keller stopped Fire forward Gaston Puerari on a breakaway chance with a sliding kick save. And then in the 66th minute he came up big again when Chicago midfielder Marco Pappa nearly blocked a clearance by Seattle's Jeff Parke into the net.

The Qwest Field crowd began chanting "Ka-sey Ke-ller!" after the third save.

"He was the best player for Seattle," said Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos.

While impressed, Sounders FC teammates were hardly surprised.

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"That's Kasey Keller; I'm not going to say anything new that you haven't heard before," said midfielder Steve Zakuani, who had the winning goal in the 25th minute. "He's a great goalkeeper, and there's a time when he's called upon that you need to depend on him, and we did that today."

Keller said what makes saves more special is when they help the team protect a lead, something Sounders FC wasn't able to do the previous week against San Jose.

"We were able to hang on, and that (gives us) a lot of confidence to move forward," he said.

Such confidence after Seattle's first win only renews those high expectations from preseason.

"We have two away games coming up, but we're a good away team and we enjoy that side of it," Keller said. "I see no reason why we can't be thinking (about getting) at least four points in these next two games."

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