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D.C. United Season Review: Joe Willis

On the last of the player season reviews, we discuss the recently traded goalkeeper Joe Willis.

Entering the preseason, it was widely assumed that Joe Willis was set as the #2 goalkeeper for D.C. United behind Bill Hamid.  The preseason training camp, where Joe Willis even practiced as the #1 for a period when Hamid was on international duty, seemed on its face to solidify that fact.  However, we soon learned that Willis lost the backup job to fellow keeper Andrew Dykstra.  As the 3rd goalkeeper on the United depth chart, Willis was included on the list of players that made the trip down I-95 South to play on loan for the USL PRO side Richmond Kickers.

Down in Richmond, as the #1 keeper, Willis flourished, much like Dykstra did in Richmond in 2013.  In 18 starts over the season for the Kickers, Willis went 10-0-7 with a 0.777 goals allowed average, 56 total saves and 7 clean sheets.  When Hamid was hurt for a few games in April, Willis rejoined the senior team as the backup keeper behind Dysktra.  In late July, Dykstra went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon, and Willis rejoined the Black-and-Red where he would stay the rest of the season.  His only appearance for United came in the CONCACAF Champions League match against Tauro FC on October 21st, where he pitched a shutout despite a squad of 13 reserves and a MLS pool goalkeeper who served as his backup and almost entered the game as a defender late in that contest.  Despite spending most of the 2nd half of the season with United, Joe Willis's performances with the Kickers were good enough for USL PRO to name him to the All-League 2nd Team.

By now, we all know Joe Willis's game: he's big, he can cover a lot of ground, and his confidence allows him to enter a game cold and stop a penalty in the playoffs.  While his mistakes usually rise to the surface over a longer stretch of games, most of the Black-and-Red diehards, for whom Joe Willis was a fan favorite, feel almost as reassured when they saw Willis in the starting XI as they do when Hamid is the one making the start.

Sadly, we won't be able to see if he could beat out Dykstra for the backup goalkeeper position.  On December 8th, D.C. United traded Joe Willis along with defender/winger Samuel Inkoom to the Houston Dynamo for midfielder Andrew Driver and a 4th round pick in the 2016 MLS Superdraft.  In Joe Willis, Houston has gained a really good goalkeeper and truly one of the nicest guys in MLS.  Regardless, while Houston may now have Joe Willis on their roster, we will always have Angry Joe Willis.  Oh, and this small save as well.  So, even though the team has already answered this question for us, we ask you, in a perfect world: