The first two saves of Jon Kempin's MLS career were anything but ordinary: a penalty kick in Vancouver against a Whitecaps side that had converted 17 straight followed by a breakaway against Brazilian Designated Player Gilberto to protect a one-goal lead against Toronto.
Both will go down in the MLS record books after the Sporting Kansas City homegrown goalkeeper claimed his second straight MLS Save of the Week recognition today. Kempin's 51st-minute stop in Saturday's 4-1 win at Sporting Park received nearly 60% of all votes cast on MLSsoccer.com for the Week 23 award.
Amongst the five finalists -- all 27 years old or younger -- it was the 21-year-old Kempin that defended his Week 22 selection. With Gilberto racing toward goal on a 60-yard run, Kempin came well off his line to cut down the angle and deflect away Gilberto's shot en route to earning Man of the Match honors.
"That save kept us in the game," Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said postgame. "If he doesn't (make the save), it goes 2-2 and that really changes the momentum of the game. That was a huge save by him and he did very well."
"At halftime, Benny (Feilhaber) told me I would have to make one big save to help the team get three points," Kempin said. "As (Gilberto) was coming at me, all I could think about was what Benny told me. Fortunately, I made the stop."
Kempin, who became the youngest goalkeeper to start an MLS match in club history in the victory, is the youngest at his position to play in MLS this season following injuries to Eric Kronberg and Andy Gruenebaum. The Leawood, Kansas native was the team's first homegrown player signing in 2010 at age 17 and has represented the United States at the youth national team level.
MLS SAVE OF THE WEEK (WEEK 23)
1. Jon Kempin (SKC) – 58.29%
2. Andre Blake (PHI) – 20.45%
3. Bill Hamid (DC) – 8.92%
4. Sean Johnson (CHI) – 6.54%
5. Bobby Shuttleworth (NE) – 5.8%