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What makes NWSL goalkeeping great? Jill Loyden has some ideas.

Modern goalkeeping is about more than how many goals get conceded, and there’s more data than ever to support that evolution

(Xavier Hernandez / SPP)

Goalkeeping in the National Women’s Soccer League has historically been some of the best in the world. What qualities do exceptional goalkeepers possess, and how can we evaluate them? To gain insight into these questions, I spoke to former United States women’s national team, Women’s Professional Soccer League, and NWSL goalkeeper Jill Loyden.

Goalkeepers are evaluated by a combination of the data and the eyes, starting with the number of goals a keeper concedes over the course of a season. This season, Chicago Red Stars and U.S. starting goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher conceded 50 goals in 22 games, which means she was allowing 2.5 goals per game, on average. On the flip side, Houston’s Jane Campbell allowed just 0.82 goals per game, the best statistic in the league.

Does that mean Naeher and Campbell were respectively the league’s worst and best goalkeepers in 2023? Not quite.

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