Kasey Keller is among the most respected and decorated players in U.S. soccer history, but it hasn't stopped him from being the subject of some very old jokes.
The Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper, whose team visits PPL Park for Saturday's 4 p.m. match with the Union, is 41 years old. Yet Keller, as he showed by his spectacular play in last week's 2-1 win over Chicago, is not ready for the old keeper's home just yet.
He has plenty of games left, but not as many remaining in his career. In December, Keller announced that this would be his final season.
So it's fitting that his final regular-season match in Philadelphia will feature a goalkeeping matchup made in AARP heaven. That's because the total age of the opposing keepers will be 80.
In this matchup, the Union's Faryd Mondragon is the kid at age 39.
"I get the old jokes all the time," Keller said while laughing during a phone interview. "I realize that some of the parents of my teammates are only a few years older than I am."
Keller acknowledges that he may not have the quickness of years past, but experience has become the great equalizer.
"So much of this game in goal is reading the game and making the right decisions, and it's so hard without the experience to consistently make the right decisions," Keller said. "I find myself not having to make saves I used to have to make because I read the game so much quicker."
Keller has appeared in four World Cups for the United States and was a starter in 1998 and 2006 and also the Olympic starter in 1996. He has played professionally in England, Spain, and Germany.
Keller has garnered so much respect in the soccer community that even an old-timer like Mondragon looks up to his elder.
"I have a lot of respect and admiration for him, and it will be very nice to play against him," Mondragon said.
Mondragon compared himself and Keller to a favorite beverage.
"It shows we are like a good wine," he said laughing. "When wine gets older it tastes better."
That was certainly the case last week when Seattle beat the Chicago Fire. Keller made three outstanding second-half saves that preserved the win.
"He is still playing at a high level," Union assistant John Hackworth said of Keller. "He was great on Saturday and kept Seattle in it on several occasions."
Strong keepers such as Keller and Mondragon bring much more to a team than just the ability to make eye-popping saves.
"Like Faryd, [Keller] brings professionalism, a confidence and composure about him that is certainly contagious," Hackworth said. "It gives everybody who plays in front of guys like that the ability to believe in themselves a little bit extra."
So if Keller remains on top of his game, it's natural to wonder if he has any second thoughts on retirement.
"No," he said emphatically. "You can steal another year or two where I can just blow up and can't do the job anymore."