TUKWILA, Wash. – Goalkeeper Kasey Keller will retire after the 2011 season, his 23rd in professional soccer.
The former U.S. national team goalkeeper agreed Friday to a contract for next season, his third with Seattle. He said 2011 will be his final season.
"I don't want to be that guy where everyone says, 'You should have retired last year,'" the 41-year-old said during a news conference. "The way I feel physically, the way I feel mentally, mentally, I see no reason why I can't continue on for one more season and then be able to go out on my own terms.
"I want to be able to say that this is my final year and that I'm going to enjoy myself and we're going to have a great time and we're going to try to bring home the MLS championship in my last year as a pro."
Keller was the starter for the United States at the 1998 and 2006 World Cups, and the 1996 Olympics,
Before joining Major League Soccer, he played for the Portland Timbers (1989), Millwall (1992-96), Leicester (1996-99), Rayo Vallecano (1999-01), Tottenham (2001-05), Southampton (2004), Borussia Moenchengladbach (2005-07) and Fulham (2007-08).
A native of Olympia, about 90 minutes south of Seattle, Keller has played in all but one regular-season game during the Sounders' two-year history and has been in goal for all four of Seattle's playoff games. In 2010, he was 14-10-5 with 11 shutouts, 82 saves, and a 1.15 goals-against average.
Ten of those wins, including seven shutouts, followed a 3-2 home loss to last-place D.C. United on June 10 that dropped the Sounders to 4-6-3. After that game, Keller wondered whether he should play another year.
"I just wanted to make sure I could perform at the level that I wanted to perform at," Keller said Friday. "So what I was basically saying to Adrian (Hanauer, the Sounders' general manager) was, 'Let me turn this thing around and then we'll talk about next year.' I think we all saw what the second half of the season was like, not just for myself, but also for the team."
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid was not present, but said in a statement, "I am happy Kasey is returning. His composure and quality are invaluable assets for our team as we continue our drive for success."
Keller was a member of four U.S. World Cup teams, playing a backup role in 2000 and 2002. His 102 international appearances are the record for a U.S. goalkeeper, and 47 of his 53 wins with the national team were shutouts.
Keller joined the Sounders in August 2008, eight months before their first game. He had shutouts in his first three games and didn't allow a goal in his first 457 MLS minutes.
Keller and Hanauer said Keller may remain with the team in some capacity after next season.
"I truly feel I will be part of the Seattle Sounders' furniture for a long time to come," Keller said. "That was the gameplan when I first came back (to the U.S.), and that's a big reason why I came back."