Kickin' It With Kasey Keller
A weekly Q&A with Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
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Today, Sounders FC's goalkeeper talks about flying with the Blue Angels and more with online sports producer Bob Wickwire.
Q: You've played with some great managers in your career. What are the characteristics that make them great?
Keller: Well, I've had managers that have won European championships as players as coaches. You have certain managers that are very laid back, very friendly and other managers that are very authoritarian, "This is the way it is and no other way." Then other guys that ask the senior guys for their opinion and then there are other guys, it's funny, that ask for your opinion, but don't really want it.
I think the one thing that most players will always respect is honesty. And it's hard, because you get coaches who find it difficult to tell somebody, "Look, I don't think you're good enough" or "This guy at this point in time is better than you." And those are the tricky things.
I think the hard part is when you're trying to make everybody happy, is you end up making everybody mad. I think the top tacticians for me are the guys that are able to adapt to the players that they have. We all want to play like Barcelona, but if you don't have the players that can play like Barcelona then it's useless to try to get somebody who can't do it.
So you have to find what works best in your team, finding the balance between size, speed, strength and all that kind of stuff because players that have size, speed, technique aren't playing in MLS and in a lot of ways are only playing for a handful of clubs around the world. So [as a coach], you're always trying to see "I've got this guy, who has got some size, but maybe not quite the technique, and I've got this guy, who has got the technique, but doesn't have the size, and this guy's got the speed, but ..."It's how you put your whole team together and then you combine that with how you treat people and now you're talking a manager.
Q: Do you miss the competition of playing in Europe?
Keller: Well, some of it I miss and some of it I don't. Yeah, I miss it because everybody is held to a very different standard. Here, guys can take days off mentally and whatever, because what are you going to do?
Q: You've had success winning team championships and also individual awards throughout your career; can you reflect on what they all mean?
Keller: Yeah, that kind of stuff is cool and obviously it's nice -- the ones where you're voted by the fans, the ones where you're voted by coaches and voted by press -- they all have their own special meaning and it's nice to be recognized for doing a good job and working hard and trying to do things the right way...
One thing in the American press that's a little bit frustrating, I think way too much time gets covered for the guys who are doing things the wrong way than for the guys who are doing things the right way. Which then I think sets such a horrible example for those other kids that are out there thinking, "Wow, if I want to get on SportsCenter, I gotta be an idiot." Because I'm not seeing the guys who are doing things the right way, all I'm seeing are the morons, and they're the ones getting on SportsCenter.
Q: Can you share some thoughts on teams you played for that enjoyed unexpected success?
Keller: Leicester [City] was the prime example, and Rayo Vallecano as well. When I joined Leicester City, we were tipped by everybody to be relegated by Christmas. We finished in eighth place and won the League Cup that year. So, when I went there it was like, "Alright, I'm getting my chance in the Premier League, but it will probably only be for one year and then we'll get relegated, and then we'll see what happens." And really, in my three years at Leicester City we finished in the top half every year, two cup finals, things like that, it was a great time period.
Then I went to Spain, and same thing, I go to a team that just got promoted and after 16 games we're one point ahead of Barcelona in first place, have a good enough season and we get a backdoor entry into the UEFA Cup and we lose in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup the next year.
So, those kinds of things are really cool when there isn't that expectation.
Q: Two years ago you were able to fly with the Blue Angels during their annual Seafair visit. Can you tell me what that experience was like?
Keller: I got very sick and turned green for three days. (Laughing)
Lieutenant [Ben] Walborn put me through my paces. Then I had to get on a plane and fly down to the [MLS] All-Star Game. Yeah, I was real excited. Luckily, it was Adrian's (Hanauer) plane and I could just curl up in the fetal position. (Laughing)
It was awesome, loved every minute of it even as I was puking in a bag. It was great.
It was really cool, thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity that the Blue Angels gave me to do that.
We went out for about 45 minutes over the Olympics (Mountains). We did a bunch of different exercises. It's the big G stuff that really crushes you ... And I knew it. I can't go offshore fishing anymore, I get sick as a dog, so I knew I was going to get pummeled, but you gotta go for it when you get the opportunity.
Q: Did you have a favorite maneuver?
Keller: There was one cool maneuver, I can't remember the name of it, but we're following a river in the Olympics and I don't know what our height was, maybe 1,000 feet or 2,000 feet. He then turns and shoots up the side of a mountain and then at the top, inverts and goes down the backside of the mountain, which was totally cool. ...
The one thing that I don't think people understand is the cockpit is about as wide as a small chair and it's all glass and everything is behind you, so when you're up in the air you can see everything. You can actually look down right at the side of you. It's not like an airplane where you're looking out a small hole. Everything is glass, so it looks like you're basically sitting in the air. You have this unprecedented view of everything and it does honestly feel like you are sitting in a chair, going very fast.
We did another cool maneuver, where they say one of the coolest things about the F-18 and why it's such a great combat plane is because of how slow it can fly. So he pitched it at something like a 28-degree angle, flipped the air brake, which is a hatch in the back, which kind of slows us down and think we got down to about 100 miles an hour.
They wouldn't let us break the sound barrier, so he said, "Let's slow it down and let's see how long it takes us to get to about 750 [mph] just before we break the sound barrier." I think it was something like 23 seconds, where we went from 100 miles an hour to 700-and-something miles an hour.
It was just the power-G turn, which knocked me out for a little while. It was funny. We did the full loop which is about 6.3 Gs, which lets you know you're in the game. Before, you're doing some different things, you're doing some snap barrel rolls, you're doing some turns and stuff, but when you do the full loop, like I said, that starts to let you know that you're going to get your ass kicked here.
Then we do the power-G turn after that and that was 7.3 Gs. And that was when I blacked out for a little while. ... What happens when you black out, your peripheral [vision] goes, so it just comes in. ... When you're going through the turn, it's like, "OK, I'm out." But then as you start to wake up, your legs feel super hot and super heavy because all your blood has gone down into your legs. And then you have that little bit of feeling like, "Where am I? What's going on?" And then the curtain comes open, and all I remember Ben saying to me as we come out and I wake up is, "Welcome back."
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