Peter Nowak entered the 2010 Expansion Draft with both of his goalkeepers available for selection. Chris Seitz began the Union's inaugural season between the posts, but was eventually beat out by Brad Knighton for the top spot.
After the Union lost Shea Salinas to the Vancouver Whitecaps with the eighth overall pick on Wednesday, Seitz was pulled back -- in other words, added to the club's protection list -- before another member of the squad could be snatched. He became exempt, while Knighton remained available for selection.
In a conference call following the draft, Nowak spoke about the decision to move Seitz to the protected list.
"Listen, we made a significant investment, you know," said Nowak. "We made a deal with Salt Lake last year ... and we still think he can make a significant contribution. Playing him, giving him more chances - we still believe in him."
MLS history is littered with goalkeepers who struggled in their early days as a starter, only to mature into stalwarts between the pipes. Nick Rimando, one of the best netminders in MLS, had a 1.84 GAA in his rookie season. Brad Guzan registered a 1.99 GAA in his first full season, 1.46 a year later, followed by a sterling 0.93 mark in 2007 before eventually heading to Aston Villa of the English Premier League. There's certainly no guarantee that Seitz will follow the same path, but it's also far from out of the question. The 23-year-old had his shaky moments in net, but he also made a number of difficult saves behind a defense that began the year as a porous unit.
Nowak, who has the benefit of seeing Seitz in training every day in addition to during matches, also pointed out that Joe Cannon was selected by the Whitecaps (16th overall). He said that while it was tough to determine how Portland and Vancouver would proceed, the veteran 'keeper's selection showed that at least one side was looking for a starter in net.
"You know, you go through the meetings with the people before the expansion draft ... you try to make sense of what and how (they'll proceed), he said. "As you see, Joe Cannon was picked up, so one or two teams were looking for a starting goalie."
[inline_node:288202]Neither Union 'keeper was selected in the end, leaving the club with both as options in 2011. Knighton was far more effective than Seitz in less playing time -- Knighton registered a 1.1 GAA compared to Seitz's 1.8 mark -- but it's clear there will be a battle for the number one spot to start the '11 season. The technical staff has also indicated that there is a possibility of bringing in veteran competition this offseason.
Aside from who will feature to begin next season, the other question revolves around the confidence of both currently rostered 'keepers. Seitz has received his fair share of criticism, while Knighton was left unprotected after finishing the season as the starter. Nowak, however, doesn't believe confidence will be an issue for either player.
"No, not really, it's still a work in progress," he said. "We know, especially with the 'keepers, they need experience. They will live, even if it's (difficult). ... The confidence was never a problem with Chris. There are different things we've discussed, and we're trying to make it better."
One thing is for certain: The goalkeeper position will remain a hot topic all offseason and into preseason. After Wednesday, it's hard to predict how it'll shake out.