WASHINGTON – Opposing teams be warned: Isaac Walker has a cannon for an arm.
While his three MLS All-Star Goalie Wars (featuring MLS NEXT Pro goalies) competitors occasionally mixed in throws with their kicks when attempting to score, only the Crown Legacy FC goalkeeper consistently tallied points that way, which made the difference in Goalie Wars on Tuesday night at Audi Field.
“I just felt like I was more accurate, especially with the distance,” said Walker in reference to his throw-first strategy. “Throw was the best weapon for me to use.”
En route to victory, Walker first dispatched Huntsville City FC goalkeeper Ben Martino in a tightly contested round that finished 4-3. That performance earned him a spot in the final against Austin FC II’s Damian Las, who punched his ticket to the final via a semifinal overtime win against Houston Dynamo 2’s Xavier Valdez.
From there, things got spicy. In a nervy matchup that had Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale visibly on the edge of his seat, Walker and Las traded the Goalie Wars equivalent of body blows, each forcing the other into big saves in a low-scoring affair. In the final seconds, Walker held a 2-1 lead and almost appeared to be milking the clock, but Las nevertheless got one more attempt and smashed a drop-kick into the back of the net to force overtime.
But Walker would not be denied. After Las failed to score his overtime attempt, the Charlotte-based goalkeeper unleashed his patented throw into the upper 90 to secure the victory belt.
Asked if he was nervous heading into overtime, Walker admitted: “I was a little bit. I was hoping I could win in regulation, but took a deep breath, especially after he missed the first shot. I knew if I made that one, then I'd win it, and luckily I did.”
Ramsdale, who’d watched the unfolding drama with rapt attention, was so entertained that he wished he could’ve hopped in himself.
“Goalie wars, so many memories growing up. I used to play it individuals, two v. twos. Twice a week, we use to play from the age of 10 to 16,” said the Arsenal 'keeper. “It’s the first time I’ve seen it for a long time, and they put on a good show as well. But yeah, next time I come I want a proper go at that.”
“It looks fun,” said Bürki. “But to be honest I’m happy that I didn’t have to do that because it’s hard.”