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The Rise of David Ousted

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The Great Dane is a fan-favourite now, but how did we get here?

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

David Ousted did not arrive in Vancouver to much fanfare.  Quite the opposite, if anything.  Incumbent starter Brad Knighton was riding high, having finally claimed the gloves from veteran Joe Cannon.  The conversation surrounding Ousted’s arrival was only enhanced in the coming weeks as Knighton continued his fine form, including a multi-save performance in a Vancouver victory against the rival Sounders at BC Place. 

Less then a month after Knighton’s shining performance, Ousted got his chance in Portland against the Timbers.  A nondescript performance in his Whitecaps debut, a 1-1 draw in the Cascadia clash, set the table for the rest of Ousted’s debut year.  Over his thirteen-match 2013, Ousted allowed sixteen goals, many of which had Whitecaps supporters clamoring for Knighton to return to the net.  Instead, the MLS veteran was sent to New England in a trade, and incoming manager Carl Robinson stuck with the Dane as the club picked up his option.  Career backup Paolo Tornaghi was acquired to be the number two behind the now entrenched starter Ousted. 

A hot start to the 2014 season for the Whitecaps saw the team pick up four points in two matches, with Ousted allowing a goal in both of the first two matches.  Then it was a trip to New England to play on a windy afternoon against the Revolution.  In his first fifteen matches, Ousted had given ‘Caps supporters plenty reason to feel nervous whenever a shot was aimed at goal.  He looked uncertain and unconfident, allowing more then a few soft goals.  Then, on the Gillette Field turf, it changed. 

In the fifth minute of the March 22nd, 2014 match between the Revs and Whitecaps, Ousted made one of his now trademark reaction saves off a Revolution corner, tipping away a powerful header from close.  The best save he had made to date in his MLS career to keep the score deadlocked.  Just fifteen minutes later, the Dane came up big again stopping a near-side effort from outside the penalty area.  Two-hundred minutes into the 2014 MLS season and Ousted had begun to win over Whitecaps fans and earned his first clean sheet of the new season while winning MLS Save of the Week in the process. 

Buoyed by his man of the match performance in New England, a more confident David Ousted began to emerge.  Following another clean sheet and man of the match performance against the Sounders almost a year to the date of Knighton’s Cascadia heroics, Ousted and his new centre back Kendall Waston helped lead a terrific defense over the season’s second half.  Nine clean sheets over the season’s final fourteen matches saw Ousted and co. lead the league in shutouts with thirteen.  Having not allowed a goal in almost 400 minutes entering the playoffs, Ousted was firmly the number one to both club and supporters.

Following a heartbreaking end to the season in Dallas, the Whitecaps entered the offseason with a clear number one goalkeeper for the first time in years.  Ousted had developed in more ways then just his play.  He was the strong voice in the back (not that that was ever an issue) and a leader on and off the pitch.  Key players in place all the way down the middle of the park, expectations were high heading into 2015, for both Ousted personally and for the club. 

Having already posted three clean sheets in 2015’s first six matches, Ousted found himself in a new role heading into an April away match in Salt Lake, taking over the armband for the first time as Pedro Morales served a red card suspension.  His response was typical of his form; four saves and a clean sheet as the Whitecaps won 1-0.  Three more clean sheets followed before the Whitecaps were exiled on an east coast road trip while the Women’s World Cup took over BC Place.   The trip to New York and New England coincided with a Morales injury, meaning the ‘Caps goalkeeper would play the role of captain once again. 

The now famous match against New York almost didn’t happen, as captain Ousted had the flu and only gave the team the good-to-go hours before kickoff.  But thank heavens he did.  Two penalty stops and several other big saves propelled the Whitecaps to victory.  Ousted’s finest moment as a Whitecap was followed by a return to where his ascension began; Gillette Field in New England.  And just like in his first trip there, he took home three points and the MLS Save of the Week.  The stand-in captain rounded out his fine form with another MLS Save of the Week against Colorado and took home the MLS Player of the Month as well. 

By now, the Whitecaps vice-captain was quickly becoming one of the finest goalkeepers in the league and a fan favourite in BC Place.  The same Ousted who arrived in the city to question marks and confusion now heard his name chanted as he took his place in between the sticks.  David Ousted had arrived. 

In true David Ousted fashion, the Dane kept a clean sheet in his forty-five-minute display for the MLS All-Stars against Tottenham as the league won 2-1.  The fine form wouldn’t end as the Whitecaps climbed up the standings in the Western Conference with Ousted making the incredible look normal on a weekly basis.  Injuries and suspensions were a constant in the Whitecaps 2015 campaign, and while the ten outfield players were changing, Ousted was a rock.  Playing every minute of every match and racking up another thirteen clean sheets, Ousted was the Whitecaps best player and captain for long stretches of the club’s best campaign in MLS. 

While the year didn’t end the way he or the club had hoped, Ousted finished out his best season in the only way he knew how; making ridiculous saves to bamboozle opposing attackers.  He and the club conceded the least amount of goals in MLS in 2015 and he finished as the runner-up for Goalkeeper of the Year as a reward.  The offseason had arrived and with it came more goalkeeper questions, this time of a different kind.  The club had again picked up David Ousted’s option, but there was genuine thought he may test himself in Europe, and rightfully so. 

Luckily for ‘Caps fans and unluckily for MLS, the Great Dane put off his European aspirations for a few more years as he signed a contract extension with the club this February.  And while the season’s still young, Ousted has done nothing but prove his worth time and time again in 2016.  Seven matches in and the ‘Caps number one man has racked up thirty saves, many of them spectacular, while the outfield sorts itself out.  While Pedro Morales once again finds himself on the sideline, the captain’s armband remains on David Ousted. 

A crucial piece of one of Major League Soccer’s best clubs, Ousted has seen himself go from a questionable signing to a captain and a hero.  The goalkeeper position in Vancouver is solidified as long as Ousted is around and the question marks have become certainties; leadership, a player to be proud of and big stops being followed by a loud Ou-Sted chant of approval from the Whitecaps supporters. There’s just one question remaining for the Whitecaps star; is he Peter Schmeichel in disguise?