Donovan Ricketts was one of the Montreal Impact’s first stars.
As I look to my right at a magnet schedule for the inaugural 2012 season that I have never got around to getting rid of, the big Jamaican stares back at me. Also featured on the magnet are Nelson Rivas, Davy Arnaud and Patrice Bernier. All were poster boys (literally) for the club in its early months. So you could say Ricketts was in some pretty elite company.
The goalkeeper brought over two hundred games of professional soccer experience with him to Montreal, when he was acquired in exchange for allocation money from the L.A. Galaxy in late 2011.
Also on Ricketts’ resume was a successful stint with Bradford City of the lower English leagues, and some time with the Bolton Wanderers, also from England.
He helped the Galaxy win the MLS Supporter’s Shield in 2010 and 2011, earning the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year award in the former.
Despite the accolades, Ricketts’ time in Montreal didn’t really go as planned.
Yes, he was capable of making jaw-dropping saves, but for as many highlight reels he made, he seemed to make just as many blooper reels. At times, weak goals looked to be Ricketts’ downfall.
He was sent to the Portland Timbers in a straight-up swap for Troy Perkins in August 2012. Ricketts must have performed well, as the following year he once again took home Goalkeeper of the Year honours.
The veteran of exactly one hundred international appearances was left unprotected in the recent MLS Expansion Draft, going first overall to Orlando City SC.
Montreal Impact fans will get a chance to see Ricketts, as well as his international superstar teammates Kaka and Brek Shea, when the Impact hold their home opener against OCSC on March 28.
We got in touch with Gavin Ewbank, editor of O-Town’s 11 to ask him what Ricketts has looked like so far in training camp and where he stands in the goalkeeping pecking order.
We also picked his brain about the status of former Montreal Impact centre back Heath Pearce (who was also selected in the Expansion Draft) and the first overall pick in the 2015 SuperDraft, Canadian Cyle Larin.
La Metropole Sports: Former Montreal Impact goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was selected with the first pick in the Expansion Draft. How has he been looking in training camp?
Gavin Ewbank: “So far, so good. We had the chance to chat with Ricketts at Orlando City Media Day recently and he was feeling well about the situation after Orlando took him in the Expansion Draft, and is ready to get the season started.”
LMS: Orlando has three ‘keepers on their roster; Ricketts, Tally Hall and Josh Ford. We’ve seen that Hall is more that capable of starting at the MLS level. How will playing time be split up between the three? Is there much of a goaltending competition?
GE: “Tally is actually expected to miss the first couple of months of the season because he’s still recovering from his ACL injury suffered in September. Because of that, Ricketts will go into the season as the starter with Ford serving as his backup. Things will get very interesting once Hall returns. Unless Ricketts is playing at a high level, I can’t see [manager] Adrian Heath not giving Hall an opportunity to earn the starting spot he was brought in to have. So there will be a little bit of a goalkeeper competition, but not until we get a couple months deep into the campaign.”Oct 18, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Montreal Impact midfielder Heath Pearce (44) plays the ball against the Toronto FC at BMO Field. The Impact tied FC 1-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
LMS: Centre-half Heath Pearce was also picked in the Expansion Draft, but as far as I can see, he’s not been signed. What’s the story behind that?
GE: “Heath was expected to be an important part of Orlando City’s defense in providing depth at all four positions behind the younger guys expected to start, and be on the ready for whenever Aurelien Collin gets sent off with a straight red. However, he and Orlando were not able to come to terms after the club gave him what he considered a lowball offer. So now he’s reportedly looking at options overseas and it seems like he won’t be playing in MLS this season.”
[Update: Since the interview, Pearce has signed with IFK Goteborg of Norway’s Allsvenskan]
LMS: Orlando selected Canadian Cyle Larin with the first overall pick in the draft. What role do you expect him to play in OCSC’s system?
GE: “I honestly expect Orlando City to loan him to their USL PRO affiliate, Louisville City FC, for the first few months of the season while he adjusts to the next level. Orlando didn’t really have a strong need for forwards heading into the draft, which lets them give him more time to grow rather than rushing him straight into action.”
LMS: Will he make an impact in his first season?
GE: “I think he does make an impact at some point. [The club loaned] Martin Paterson on a six-month loan. I think that he’s coming just so Larin can get his minutes in Louisville, then come up some time during the summer to give them a little extra up top as they continue fighting for a playoff spot.”
Larin, a 19-year-old striker from Brampton, Ont. played college soccer from the University of Connecticut. He has made appearances with the Canadian U-20 national team and has three caps with the senior national team.
For those interested in potentially seeing Larin play in Montreal, Louisville FC will be at Stade Saputo on Wednesday, June 10 to take on FC Montreal in USL PRO action. A complete schedule for the Montreal Impact affiliate can be viewed HERE.
We thank Gavin for his participation in the interview. Be sure to check out O-Town’s 11!