Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Saturday was the same old story for Steward Ceus -- mental lapses keeping him from being the keeper he has the potential to be.
Did you listen to the Rapids Thugcast last week? (I know you probably didn't, but bear with me.) If you did, you will have heard that both myself and Bulldog Ben were expecting blowouts against FC Dallas, and not in our favor. Ben predicted we would go down 5-0, I was a bit more optimistic with a 3-1 prediction. Both of us had a common link between our predictions though -- we both said that Steward Ceus being in net would probably be the reason for the disaster.
Stew, in the worst sense of this phrase imaginable, didn't disappoint in that regard against Dallas.
If you somehow either were too drunk to remember the game (I envy you) or avoided the result because you were expecting terrible things, you missed a howler. Stew charged off his line after a hoofed ball up the field, but charged it far too early. That left him six yards outside his 18 yard box by the time the ball had reached him and he was forced to try and head a ball away that was two feet over his head because reaching up to grab it would have been an instant red card.
Ceus had a couple of other moments that didn't exactly paint him as a potential starter either, like the free kick from 22 yards out that he managed to fumble despite it being right at him or the 'great save' he turned past the post that probably wouldn't have turned into a corner kick if he had jumped a half-second quicker.
That's Steward Ceus, though. It's been frustrating watching his development because there's always a moment or two like that which makes you remember that he's not all there yet.
It's easy to see why the Rapids refuse to let the 25-year-old go, re-signing him to a new contract this off-season. As Ben once said, Ceus could probably start at GK in any league in the world with his physical attributes. 6'6'', a wingspan like an NBA player, great leaping ability, he's the complete package physically. So why is he a backup keeper in MLS instead of a young guy with potential in England or Spain? Mentally, he's never been all there.
Ceus is not very good at organizing a defense in front of him. He misjudges balls in the air all the time, which we've already seen twice this year if you include that blooper-reel mistake he made to gift Chivas USA a penalty in preseason. He quite often gets off his line either too early or too late. His hands aren't always the steadiest things in the world.
There was a bit of promise last year after he earned two shutouts to close the season out, but as cautioned at the time, those were against the backups of a team with little depth and the worst offense in league history. When faced with a decent attacking squad like Dallas, though he was rarely tested, the old Ceus shone through again even if only for a few moments.
The biggest problem is that the guy is turning 26 in less than a month. Goalkeepers tend to start hitting the really good years of their careers around that point, yet Ceus seems to be struggling with the same problems that have plagued him since he was still a fresh new face on the Rapids roster in 2009. At some point, you have to wonder if Clint Irwin would be the guy out there who, while raw, wouldn't be making those mistakes. Matt Pickens won't last forever, and if we're relying on Stew to be the man to start 30 games in the future, we might be in for an unpleasant surprise.