TFC's goalie Bono looks like a keeper


TFC's goalie Bono looks like a keeper
  1. TFC's goalie Bono looks like a keeper
    torontosun.com
    He’s not yet considered one of Toronto FC’s best pla…
    Soccer

 He’s not yet considered one of Toronto FC’s best players.

 

He’s arguably the most expendable given the guy behind him has more experience than some MLS starters.

Alex Bono is the least talked about starter inside a TFC dressing room that’s full of big names who’ve been credited with lifting the Reds to where they are today.

Smaller, but important, pieces like Chris Mavinga and Marky Delgado and Nicolas Hasler receive more plaudits than Toronto’s starting goalkeeper, who likely should be up for MLS goalkeeper of the year given his numbers.

Bono’s 1.00 goals-against average is among the best in the league. The 23-year-old also is top three in save percentage among goalkeepers who’ve appeared in 20-plus games.

And, in addition to breaking TFC’s single-season shutout record (8) this season, Bono’s win percentage (67%) is 20 and 30 points higher than most goalkeepers across the league.

Still, the former first-round draft pick, perhaps the real unsung hero in this year’s TFC squad, rarely gets a shout among Major League Soccer’s aging upper echelon — like Colorado’s Tim Howard, Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando and Atlanta’s Brad Guzan.

Heck, Bono’s rarely even mentioned among second tier guys like DC United’s Bill Hamid and Philadelphia’s Andre Blake despite being one of the youngest starting goalkeepers in Major League Soccer.

“People want to hear about Timmy Howard; People want to hear about Brad Guzan coming over here and performing and playing well — which I believe they have,” Bono said.

“Tim Melia (in Kansas City) has had an incredible year and hasn’t been talked about hardly at all. He was one of the bigger snubs for the all-star game, which I thought was ludicrous.

“That’s (big name goalkeepers) what people want to read about. That’s what people want to see. That’s what people are clicking on nowadays.”

When he spoke to the Sun five months ago — long before he’d established himself as coach Greg Vanney’s first-choice ’keeper — Bono said he “intended to show” he was a starter in this league. Mission complete.

He has had no real gaffes since then. And aside from the odd miss-clearance into BMO Field’s seats, there’s been little to critique.

Sure, TFC’s Eastern Conference-leading defence can take credit for some of Bono’s slow rise to prominence, but he’s still being peppered with roughly the same number of shots (86) as Howard (92) and Rimando (89) this season.

“I do remember the conversation we had,” Bono said, referring back to April. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given and that the coaches put me in and have stuck with me.

“You never wish injury on anyone, but that’s how opportunities are made in professional sports. I’m a firm believer that the person who comes up and plays well should keep a job.”

Beyond backstopping his team to another MLS Cup, Bono’s next target could be joining the expansive list of goalkeepers who are standing in line to wear the Stars and Stripes.

There are no clear frontrunners ready to take the places of Howard, 38, and Rimando, 38, whenever they retire from international duty. Both are showing their age.

“For me, playing for your national team is the highest honour a player can have,” Bono said. “I haven’t heard anything from the national team. I haven’t talked to anyone.

“Right now we have something very special happening in Toronto. I have my all invested in this. Hopefully after MLS Cup we can start thinking about stuff like (the national team) going into next season.”

The most remarkable aspect of Bono’s quiet first full seasons as a professional might be his overall record. He’s lost six times in 40 appearances.

However, his teammates have been there to make sure he stays grounded.

“The guys give me a hard time about the role I play in some of the games,” Bono said.

“Those guys have a good time picking at me.

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