If defense wins championships, then it looks like the Philadelphia Union is headed in that direction. Based on some of the clubs early moves, the newest member of Major League Soccer (MLS) will have a solid backline when it comes time to kick off their inaugural season in March 2010. As it stands, Philadelphia’s current 12 man roster consists of four defensemen and two goal keepers.
One of those keepers is Chris Seitz, who has championship DNA flowing through his veins.
Despite playing behind Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando, Seitz was still a key cog in the teams march toward winning the 2009 MLS Cup. Prior to being drafted by Salt Lake in 2007, Seitz was a star at the University of Maryland where he helped lead the Terrapins to the national championship as a freshman in 2005. In two seasons with the Terp’s, he registered an amazing 28-5-3 record, along with a stingy 0.77 goals against average, and 16 shutouts. Trust me, as a person who trains goal keepers, those numbers are righteous!
Well, kudos once again to Philadelphia’s front office for their latest acquisition, keeper coach Rob Vartughian. The significance of this hire not only huge because of Vartughian’s reputation for grooming some of the nation's top young goalkeepers, but also for his relationship with Seitz. You see, during his freshman season at Maryland, Vartughian helped Seitz evolve into becoming the first freshman to lead his team to an NCAA title since Brad Friedel did it in 1990.
Seitz was also named the Defensive MVP at the College Cup, in addition to All-ACC second team honors and numerous Freshman All-America teams. As a matter of fact, in each of his three seasons with the Terp’s, Vartughian helped Maryland goalkeepers earn All-ACC honors in each of those seasons. Before Seitz, Vartughian guided Noah Palmer to one of the finest careers for a goalkeeper in Maryland history as Palmer recorded the lowest goals-against average for a Terp goalkeeper in school history (0.56) and left Maryland with a school record 34 career shutouts.
Vartughian’s college career started at St. Bonaventure in 1996. Following his graduation in 2000 with a bachelor of science in accounting and finance it was off to Wake Forest to begin graduate work in education. During his time at St. Bonaventure, he set the school record for shutouts in a single season and career goals-against average. He finished his career as the starting keeper at Wake Forest where he made 72 saves on the year.
Vartughian’s playing career extended past college taking him to the Philadelphia Kixx of the Major Indoor Soccer League and both the Hampton Roads Mariners and Charleston Battery of the A-League teams. He spent 2001 with the South Jersey Barons Division III United Soccer League team.
I suppose the big question now is can Vartughian and Seitz revive some of their old Championship DNA and spread it among their Union teammates?