MLS Prospect Roundup: Keller's strength

MLS Prospect Roundup: Keller's strength
by Travis Clark
March 10, 2022

The jump from college soccer to MLS has never been bigger.

That’s one of the many reasons it’s been impressive for Kipp Keller to start the first two games of the current season.

The former Saint Louis star has helped Austin FC to a strong start, and he played another 54-minute shift in Sunday’s 5-1 drubbing of Inter Miami.

From a positional standout, his strong start is even more impressive. Getting minutes as a young center back is often extremely difficult, considering the responsibility of the position. Take into account how much Austin FC tries to possess the ball and dictate the tempo of the game, and it’s clear how well the Saint Louis native is doing so far.

Before getting subbed out for Roman Gabrielsen (Keller has been bothered by an ankle knock), he completed 94% of 48 passes. While his passing map was relatively conservative, he did solve problems on more than one occasion, and didn’t cough the ball up in many dangerous positions. Inter Miami didn’t really push up to try and press the rookie in his second professional game, which is a bit curious from the other side’s perspective.

He did concede a free kick from a dangerous position – that was just a step or two outside his own penalty area – but for the most part did nothing to dispel the notion that he is going to be, at minimum, a very good MLS player both in 2022 and beyond.

Bigger tests lie ahead. Continuing to get minutes once Gabrielsen is fit and ready to play 90 minutes is worth watching this season. But at the very least, Keller’s made the most of this early opportunity and is a valuable depth player at the back for 2022.

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Related Topics: Atlantic 10, Big Ten
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