Keller kicks back, but stays in touch with the soccer world

Jan 13 2012 - 8:26pm

From scouting reports to snow reports.

Such has been part of the transition to retired life for former Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller.

In the two months since calling an end to a Hall of Fame career, Keller has embraced a commitment-free schedule and made the most of it. He has gone hunting, filmed commercials and has even become a factory rider for local company K2 Snowboards.

"Which is kind of interesting because I've only been snowboarding for about a month," Keller said with a laugh in a phone interview.

A lot is easygoing these days without the pressure and regimented calendar of pro sports. No longer does Keller have to suppress a desire to hit the snowy slopes while on vacation or avoid wakeboarding on a sunny summer afternoon, all for fear of getting injured.

That sense of freedom also extends beyond recreation as the 42-year-old has to choose a new career path for the first time in decades. According to a Sounders official last week, Keller is close to signing with the team as a color commentator for the 2012 season.

No official announcement has been made, but when asked about that likelihood, Keller said: "It looks good in that direction."

A three-time U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year, Keller earned some broadcasting experience in England, both in studio analysis and game commentary. Last month, he interviewed for a broadcasting job at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., and also served as a guest presenter for a UEFA Champions League game on Fox Soccer.

Keller said he has talked with the Sounders about working in the booth for a while, and the flexibility of the work schedule is something that particularly appeals to him. Long term, he is still considering a future in coaching or the front office.

So, would the forthright Keller be willing to be critical, as an analyst job sometimes demands? He said the degree of those on-air evaluations would depend on his employer.

"At the same time, I'm someone that has prided myself on honesty and I think a lot of people have respected that," said Keller, who completed his degree in sociology from the University of Portland last year. "(My candidness) will be there, but there's a way to do things and there's a way not to do things. I will, of course, do my best to do it the right way."

"But if I'm working for ESPN, maybe the gloves are off a little bit," he added with a laugh, consistent with a fun-loving past two months.

Keller has often joked about showing up to the first day of Sounders practice as a heckler with a lawn chair, bullhorn and hip flask. Recently, he filmed commercials for a local auto mall that included a shot with him dressed in scuba gear.

Of the new ventures, Keller said: "I've never dismissed my ability to laugh at myself."

Which will serve him well through those slips and spills as he learns to snowboard.

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