Maurer is no stranger to the spotlight. Since earning the Cosmos starting job in 2014, the Lawrenceville, Georgia native has shined. Each of the past three seasons, Maurer has posted a 1.00 GAA while also posting double digit shutouts (11, 12, and 14 respectively) Maurer was also named to the NASL’s Best XI in 2014.
So, what’s so special about this year?
Through three games, Maurer has looked as comfortable as he does in training. An increasingly vocal presence out of the back, Maurer’s positioning, reflexes, and strong right hand all appear to be in playoff form already. He’s dazzled with acrobatic saves left and right, standing on his head behind a back line that is still in the process of developing chemistry. Through three games, he’s only let three goals slip past him from a remarkable 16 shots faced (compared to 64 shots faced in 27 matches in 2016). In the process, he’s earned two NASL Team of the Week honors.
However, speaking to Maurer, 2017 is just business as usual.“It doesn’t feel any different for me. I prepare the same way, the training is the same, like every year: training hard, trying to be as sharp as we can with a lot of game scenarios so we can be prepared for whatever comes at the weekend.”
“I feel good, but games are going to be different, especially this year. We never played the way we did down in Miami, but we found a way to win. We’re still building, growing, and figuring things out. I just do what I can when I’m called upon.”
Many, however, have noticed how much his contributions have meant to the Cosmos staying on track thus far this season. Few in the Cosmos organization can speak better to Maurer’s improvement than the man that brought him to the club, Head Coach Giovanni Savarese. Savarese has already complimented Maurer’s efforts to improve his play out of the back this season. When asked about the Cosmos netminder after training Saturday, the Venezuelan did not hold back on his praise.
“He’s a very smart player that works very hard, very competitive. Every year he’s grown. I remember the first year he didn’t play much because he was behind a keeper who had played more often. Once he got the starting job, however, he embraced it. He took time to keep on growing and I think we have a very strong keeper. Not only does he do well in saving goals, but he’s a leader and he plays out of the back with a lot of quality.”
Savarese went on to give his keeper a praise that many fans around Cosmos Country have uttered since Maurer’s ascent to leader in the net.
“He’s been outstanding. He’s been so good, and has been so important in making sure that we are heading in the right direction. If he keeps on doing that, to be honest with you, I think anything can happen. If people are watching, I think he’s putting himself in a situation that… why not be seen on the national team?”
Maurer’s manager isn’t the only one singing the keeper’s praises.
“Jimmy’s great. He’s one of the first guys I met, so I know a little bit about him,” said Darrius Barnes, recently arrived defender from the Revolution. “He’s very vocal, putting defenders where he wants them. Hearing that instruction from the back gives you confidence as a center back that you can put pressure on the ball if you want to, or can drop back if you need to.
“We’re a unit, and communication is key, so he helps with that a lot. He’s also great with his feet, playing out of the back and in possession. He can really spray the ball, so whenever you have a goalkeeper like that it gives you confidence that you can use him as an outlet. Finally, he’s a great shot stopper. He’s made some fantastic saves, especially down in Miami, but hopefully we’ll get better so he doesn’t have to make those big saves as often as he has.”
“He’s actually very good with his feet,” added Dejan Jakovic. “Obviously, we want to play out of the back, and we need a goalkeeper who can do that. He’s done a great job with not only that but with some big games, especially in Miami where he had…I don’t know, ten, eleven saves? He’s quick, he’s communicating with us, he’s been a pleasure to work with.”At age 28, Maurer is entering a prime stretch of years for a goalkeeper’s career. Mainstays in the U.S. keeper pool, such as Nick Rimando (37) and Tim Howard (38), are both on the downturns of their careers and occupy starting jobs in MLS. Jurgen Klisnmann and Bruce Arena have consistently called in younger keepers to camp including Ethan Horvath and David Bingham. MLS, a league Bruce Arena has not been shy for looking at talent from, has moved to acquiring much younger goalkeepers, including Bingham and Zach Steffens.
Who’s to say Jimmy Maurer couldn’t be next?