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Behind the Jersey: FC Dallas Goalkeeper Chris Seitz

In fall 2012, Chris Seitz made a huge sacrifice to help save the life of someone he’d never met. Seitz donated bone marrow which ended his season early. Last May, he met the recipient, Phil Richuiso of Erie, Pennsylvania, who was suffering from acute myeloid leukemia when Richuiso and his daughter were flown to Frisco by the club to catch a game at Toyota Stadium.

Now 29, nearly four years after his truly selfless act, the current No. 1 goalkeeper for FC Dallas is among the best at his position in Major League Soccer.  I had the privilege to interview Seitz before this amazing experience, and also got to speak to Richuiso and his daughter before the game, an interview that ranks as one of the most incredible I’ve ever been blessed enough to do.

Before coming to Dallas in 2011 via a trade with Seattle, Seitz had only been a full-time starter once as a professional, in 2010 with the Philadelphia Union. Over the past three seasons, Seitz, who won an MLS Cup in 2009 with Real Salt Lake, started a grand total of 22 games with FC Dallas and has spent most of his time here as the club’s No. 2 keeper.

However, this season, he wrested the starting job back from young upstart Jesse Gonzalez, who became FC Dallas’s top keeper in 2015 at age 20, and Seitz has performed like one of the league’s top goalkeepers.  However, he doesn’t feel his 2016 success is because of the good karma he was due to receive after donating marrow in 2012. Instead, Seitz sees his current run of good form as being due to plenty of old-fashioned hard work with FCD goalkeeping coach Drew Keeshan.

If you work hard enough at a certain goal, and you put in the work and do it correctly, there’s a lot that has to go into place for it to work. I don’t necessarily believe in karma because look… there are a lot of guys that have won the lottery that probably don’t need it,” Seitz said.  “I can’t look at it that way, but in this sport and in sports in general, to get the opportunity, you need a little luck sometimes. But at the end of the day, it’s what you do when you have the opportunity. For me, I’ve had quite a few since I’ve been here, but this time I’m definitely trying to make the most of it.”

On July 31 against Vancouver, Seitz picked up his seventh shutout of the season, tying him for the league lead. He’s quick to credit much of that total to what is one of the best defenses in MLS in front of him, a group that simply doesn’t allow the opposition many high-quality scoring chances.

Dallas captain Matt Hedges is the leader of that talented defensive core and thinks Seitz has also done more than his share to help make FC Dallas a defensive force every time they hit the field.

He’s been fantastic.  You can’t ask for any better,” Hedges said. “We have I think one of the best defenses in the league and obviously we’ve had some not great games, but besides those, we have a ton of shutouts and he’s made some fantastic saves to get us those shutouts. So there’s not enough good things I can say about him.”

As of August 1, Dallas was leading the Western Conference and the race for the MLS Supporter’s Shield, given to the club finishing with the league’s best regular-season record, and Seitz is pleased with how he and FC Dallas as a club have performed thus far in 2016. Yet, there’s still plenty of unfinished business for Seitz and his teammates in 2016… Like wanting to win the US Open Cup, a tournament bearing the name of founding owner Lamar Hunt, the Shield, and MLS Cup while advancing in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League, a tournament FCD is participating in for only the second time ever.

I think as a group we are definitely very happy with where we are currently, but we know that with that, that’s just the beginning. We got to finish things off,” Seitz said.

Seitz knows what it’s like to win an MLS Cup, but when Salt Lake won the league title in 2009, he watched from the bench. But with FC Dallas a strong contender to reach the final for just the second time in club history in 2016, the savvy veteran definitely wants to experience what it’s like to be on the field with a league championship at stake for the first time.

“That’s the pinnacle of our league,” Seitz said. “We’re not a team that’s going to be content just making the playoffs anymore. That’s been said in the locker room.  It’s just our first goal, is getting there. We aren’t built to just get to the playoffs anymore. We’re a team that is built to succeed once we get there.