August 13, 2008

The prodigal son is returning home. Kasey Keller, a native of Lacey, Wash., is set to join Seattle Sounders FC. The club, which will become the 15th member of MLS in 2009, has scheduled a press conference for Thursday to announce the signing.

Since graduating from the University of Portland, the 38-year-old has played his professional soccer at the highest levels in Europe. He first made a name for himself with English club Milwall and then in 1996 became the No. 1 at Leicester City, where he backstopped the club to the League Cup in 1997.

In the summer of 1999, he moved to Spain and two seasons with Rayo Vallecano in La Liga before returning to the Premier League with Tottenham. For four seasons he battled first with Neil Sullivan and then with Paul Robinson for the starting position, but in 2005, he moved on to German side Borussia Mönchengladbach and almost single-handedly saving the club from relegation.

In 2007, he went back to London, hooking up with Fulham and helping the Cottagers' escape relegation with some scintillating late-season performances.

The long-time U.S. international has 102 caps to his name and was the starting keeper for the Americans at the World Cup in 2006.

Keller has long planned to finish his career in MLS. Now it appears he will have his way.

However, because Seattle does not start play until next season, there is speculation about Keller's immediate future. Could he be loaned out to another club? To another MLS club? Will he work for the Sounders helping technical director Chris Henderson build the team? (At this point, only one player has been signed, Sebastian Le Toux, the captain of the Seattle Sounders' USL team.)

Whatever he does, his return to MLS signals both a splashy introduction for the new club in the Pacific Northwest and the end of one of the United States' most successful European careers.


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