Kevin Hartman through his teammates' eyes

Teammates recount keys to incredible career of "the best goalkeeper that MLS has produced"

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USA Today Sports Images

Kevin Hartman reached full time on his incredible career on Thursday, and former teammates from all four of his professional clubs (including three teammates who saw him play as they were growing up) weighed in with their thoughts on the MLS leader in games, starts, and minutes.

As a player
“I think he has great shot-stopping ability, and he’s great at being in the right place at the right time. His positioning is fantastic. In training, we’d talk about when to do certain things in certain situations, and that’s where I learned the most from him in terms of positioning -- something like when to go and close down a 1 v. 1 or when to stay, and in all different situations, he had a lot of experience in games and knew what to do to give him a chance for a good outcome.”
- goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, Kansas City Wizards teammate 2007-09

“His message was always very simple: don’t have too many highs or too many lows. That’s what you need as a goalkeeper. You don’t want a guy trying to be a highlight reel. You want a guy who’s steady and trying to do everything correctly.”
- goalkeeper Chris Seitz, FC Dallas teammate 2011-12

“He’s very intelligent. His soccer IQ is higher than most goalkeepers. For him to have that type of longevity, just like other greats like [Kasey] Keller, [Brad] Friedel, [Matt] Reis -- they understand there’s going to be a drop-off in athleticism, but if they can increase their soccer IQ, it allows them to maintain their competitiveness. That’s why he’s been such a help to Ryan [Meara] and myself. If you develop that sense of reading the play and your positioning, you’re able to compensate.”
- goalkeeper Luis Robles, New York Red Bulls teammate 2013

“His work rate and competitiveness are things that I think separate him from all the rest. He’s a huge competitor and always wants to be the best and is willing to put the work in to be the best. That, mixed in with his athleticism, puts him at the top of every goalkeeping category in MLS.”
- goalkeeper Matt Reis, UCLA teammate 1996-97, LA Galaxy teammate 1998-2002

“He’s a competitor, whether you’re playing 5 v. 2 – he’s always jumping in there – to gamedays. He’s an intense character, and he brings a lot of fire, and you can’t help but feed off his energy, especially on gamedays. He’s always there, always prepared, and it just rubs off on everybody.”
- Myers, Kansas City Wizards teammate 2008-09

“There’s not one player on the field that can’t hear him if he’s trying to get a point across.”
- midfielder Dax McCarty, FC Dallas teammate 2010, New York Red Bulls teammate 2013

As a leader
“He was huge. He’s won championships, and he’s one of those guys who has been there and done that. He led with guys who spoke English and the guys who spoke Spanish. In either language, he could get his point across. Everybody looked up to him as being the guy with the most experience on the team and who knew how to do things correctly.”
- Seitz

“You don’t see all the little intangibles that he brings – leadership ability – you don’t see all that stuff until you’re on his team. … He embraces the fact that in his position, he can see the entire field. If a right wing or center forward is not doing something to help the team defensively and ultimately let him not concede goals, he’ll let them know about it. He knows the team and is kind of like a coach on the field. You really get that sense when you play with him.”
- McCarty

“He’s very much a student of the game. There are goalkeepers who are very good at goalkeeping things, and that’s it. They definitely have a limited ceiling. Kevin has a really good understanding of the game. The best goalkeepers know how to prevent situations that will lead to goals. Kevin grew and got to learn and understand the game so well that he would take up good positions and became a very good leader out of that position.”
- Robin Fraser, LA Galaxy teammate 1997-2000

Away from the field
“After I got drafted, the first time I met everybody was down in Florida in Bradenton. He always reached out to the new guys and young guys and showed them the ropes at an early stage in their career. He made sure you were there to work hard, but he also wanted to make sure you were having fun at the same time. … He introduced me to the world of video games – Halo and video games in general. He got me fired up for some Halo tournaments in my day.”
- Myers

“We traveled with an Xbox at all times, and we knew in each hotel how to hook things up quickly. He would hook up the Xbox and TV while I set up the internet connections on my computer. We always had fun on the road, and we loved to try different breakfast spots throughout the cities – that was one of our things.”
- Seitz

“He’s a fun-loving guy. There are plenty of instances in which he’ll come out with guys 10-15 years younger than him. His best friend on that FC Dallas team was a rookie, Eric Alexander, and you would always ask guys what they were doing after training. Eric would be going over to Kevin’s house to play video games [every day]. There’s about a 15-year age difference, but it just goes to show that on the field [Kevin]’s a winner, a veteran, and a leader, and then off the field he’s a fun-loving guy that doesn’t want to grow up. They’re big into video games and fantasy football – that’s all I hear them talk about.”
- McCarty

“I really enjoyed my [carpool] rides with Kevin and Eric [Alexander]. Kevin’s such a funny guy and such a character – it was never boring on the way there or the way back. We’re going to miss playing Powerball with him. He would always spend the ride telling us what he would do with his winnings. It was worth listening to Kevin figure out what he was going to do with his millions. We got really excited every time Powerball got over $100 million.”
- Robles

When he started
“Kevin and I go all the way back to college at UCLA. He was brought in to push me and to compete, and we’ve been doing that for the past 24 years. … When we play against each other it always tends to bring the best out of each other – I’m going to miss just getting out there and playing and practicing together.”
- Reis

"Kevin was this gangly kid with the longest limbs who was a good shot-stopper, but that was about it at the time. … I think it was in his first or second year, he said to me, ‘I want to play on that team that you play on sometimes,’ and of course he meant the national team, and I was like, ‘Ah, I don’t know.’ But he grew and became so good that for sure he deserved to be with the national team, and he became one of the best goalkeepers in MLS history.”
- Fraser

When he finished
“[In New York], I think he led by example in terms of how to train, how to talk, how to do things. … He’s a person that wants to win at all times, so in a situation like this where he’s not playing, he was able to be vocal and influential with the team.”
- Fraser

“This is a guy who’s accomplished everything in MLS – championships, Goalkeeper of the Year awards – everything a goalkeeper could achieve in the league, he has. I’m not going to lie, there was a little anxiety on my part about it, because you wonder, ‘Is this guy going to come in and take my job?’ … Instead of thinking of him as an intense competitor, which he is, it’s as if he befriended me. He has allowed me to have access to his experiences.”
- Robles

His legacy
“He’s a pioneer for every young goalkeeper that comes up through the college system, because ‘Kevin Hartman’ – you associate his name with the best goalkeeper in MLS. He’s not a foreigner, he’s an American born here and who’s played his entire career here.”
- McCarty

“He’s the kind of guy that players look up to and want to have a career like him – being a professional that left his mark not just on one organization like LA, but also in Kansas City, Dallas, New York; he’s a consummate professional. That’s what our league is built around. … He helped grow the league and is a really good role model for our league, on and off the field. He always brings that work ethic that our league is known for.”
- Myers

“He’s a winner. He keeps getting himself into these big games [five MLS Cup finals]. He knows how to win and how to influence games from his position. You think of someone who stands in a tiny box on a big, big field; to be able to influence so many teams as he has says a lot about him.”
- Fraser

“One thing about Kevin is he was very consistent. … You’ve got to be consistent and put in the work on the training field to stay in shape and stay smart. If I was him, I’d be really proud of how many games he played and how consistent he was throughout his career. Having the shutout record shows his consistency. He was really a rock at the back for a lot of different teams.”
- Kronberg

“We’ve been known as a country that produces premier goalkeepers. We’ve seen a lot go overseas and play at a high level there, but Kevin stayed in league. … Give him credit for helping build the league. He’s seen a lot of hard times, and now there are these big teams and stadiums, and he’s gotten to see a big change, especially going to New York. It was always cool to hear his insights on how things have changed over the years.”
- Seitz

"Kevin’s legacy is that he was one of the originals in MLS … one of the people that have laid the groundwork for this league and for this league to be successful. He played the position at the highest level for a long period of time, and all of his statistics show where he ranks. In my opinion, he is the best goalkeeper that MLS has produced, and he has all the stats to show it.”
- Reis