September 3, 2012
PROVING HE'S A KEEPER
Red Bull Academy product Cardona gets off to a solid start at Maryland
By Kristian R. Dyer
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
At 6-4 and 195 lb., it is hard to imagine that Keith Cardona is just 19-years-old. The Glen Rock, N.J. native is the starting goalkeeper at the University of Maryland after a freshman campaign where he made four starts and had a 0.95 goals-against average.
As one of the nation’s top sophomores, big things are expected of Cardona this year, who could be the next great goalkeeper to emerge from the tri-state area. Through two games this season, both starts for Cardona, he has played big in a win over Louisville and a 2-2 draw with national powerhouse UCLA.
“Here at Maryland I have the best coaches in the nation who have produced many great pros,” Cardona told BigAppleSoccer.com.
Cardona was referring to Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski.
“Last year didn't end how we wanted it to, but the start to this year has been what we need, and we’re looking to earn a title this year.”
Not surprisingly, Cardona was part of the Red Bulls Academy set-up from when he was a teenager.
“I joined Red Bulls when I was 14-years-old after I won a national championship with PASCO Stallions," Cardona said. "Ten of my teammates including Sean Davis, Bryan Gallego and Juan Agudelo decided to join Red Bulls Academy to secure our future with college and the MLS."
Attention from major college programs followed.
“Our Red Bulls team was a prestigious squad who made it to finals our U-16 and U-18 years and at every showcase many college teams would be in attendance,” Cardona said.
He cited current Red Bulls defender-midfielder Connor Lade, who transitioned from the academy to St. John’s and now a starting job with the senior team, as an example of making it to Major League Soccer.
“Connor is a great example. He got to where he is now by hard work and he has been a hardnosed player ever since I first played with him when I was 16,” Cardona said.
Blessed with all the right physical gifts including size, a keen set of reflexes and a goalkeeper’s penchant to be daring, Cardona is one of the top goalkeepers in the country. Perhaps it is no surprise that he hopes to train like a “professional” this fall at Maryland. After all, he might be a professional sooner rather than later.
MLS is something that could be in his future, although he’s focusing on his job with the Terrapins in the Atlantic Coast Conference first.
“I have thought about it, but I am still a sophomore and I don't want to make any decisions on this season or the next,” Cardona said.