He’s the Boss, but also a Sounders understudy

Apr 25, 2011, 7:47 AM | Updated: 10:52 am

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Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller, left, says he will retire from professional soccer after this season. But understudy Terry Boss, right, isn't allowing himself to think he will just inherit the job. (AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

On a recent vacation to the Oregon coast we whisked through the rural logging town of Philomath. Population: 4,000 – and about 15 minutes west of Corvallis for those of you unfamiliar with Western Oregon geography.

Philomath – that’s the home town of Sounders FC goalkeeper Terry Boss, and brother Kevin, a tight end for the New York Giants. Two professional athletes came from a little Northwest logging and farming community. What are the odds?

Terry Boss recalled his formative years as we chatted at Sounders headquarters in Tukwila.

“I think the community where we grew up has a lot to do with why we are successful.” he said. “We were taught about hard work. We played almost every sport every day. Our parents didn’t have to worry about us. We just stayed out all hours of the night playing.”

Boss played central defender on local soccer clubs, but his height and agility made him a prime candidate for goalkeeper. He earned a scholarship to the University of Tulsa and began his professional career in 2005 with Charlotte of the USL.

The following year he moved to the Puerto Rico Islanders. That was a key decision which opened one soccer door, but slammed another one shut tight.

The Puerto Rican national team called offering Boss a starting job in their World Cup Qualifying match against the Dominican Republic. Boss didn’t hesitate, even though it meant he would never get to play for the United States national team.

I wasn’t aware of that soccer rule.

“Any minute I can log anywhere is a good minute,” Boss said. “Definitely playing for Puerto Rico is one of those things where you forfeit your rights to play for the U.S. National team. Part of that dream dies, but at the same time you’ve got to take the opportunities that are in front of you, and make the most of them.”

For the past two seasons Boss has been waiting for his Seattle Sounders FC opportunity. While he’s played in the U.S. Open Cup and a few MLS matches, he has been Kasey Keller’s understudy. Each day Boss practices and prepares to be a starter, but knows he probably won’t jump past the American soccer legend.

“I try not to take any days for granted,” Boss said, “and every day I’ve been with Kasey, I’ve learned something. He’s just done so much for the sport and goalkeepers in general. He’s definitely made life easier for a lot of young American goalkeepers, because people have to take notice.”

Keller says he will retire from professional soccer after this season. But Boss isn’t allowing himself to think he will just inherit the job next season. But he’s proof if you work hard and believe in yourself, your time will come.

Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Rodgers are pretty fair quarterbacks after serving apprenticeships behind some guy named Favre.

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