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Patience pays off for Ketterer

Former Bradley goalkeeper Logan Ketterer is used to waiting for his moment.

After joining the Braves as a non-scholarship freshman, Ketterer served as a backup before taking over the starting role as a redshirt sophomore in 2014. He also served as the starter for the final two and a half years of his collegiate career, recording 12 shutouts in 50 starts. 

Strong campaigns in the final two seasons of his Bradley career propelled him to be selected by the Columbus Crew in the fourth round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. There, Ketterer waited once again, appearing just once in two seasons. 

But the patience paid off, as the Racine, Wisconsin native has now settled into a starting role with El Paso Locomotive FC of the USL Championship. 

“It’s kind of funny,” Ketterer said. “I’d say my collegiate career is very similar to my professional career.”

The arcs are certainly similar, as Ketterer is trending upwards with El Paso. Since signing with the club in 2019, he has been the go-to keeper, starting 45 games over the last season and a half. 

“It’s been a lot of games, and I think I’m starting to kinda hit my stride,” Ketterer said. “I’m making the right decisions more often than not. I don’t have some of those simple mistakes that you’d expect from someone who hasn’t played a lot of time.” 

Despite the lack of minutes, the time spent in Columbus was highly beneficial. Ketterer was listed as the second or third string goalie behind current US National team starter and Manchester City backup keeper Zack Steffen. 

“I had no business playing over Zack Steffen,” Ketterer said. “There’s a reason he’s the number one goalkeeper for our national team…. I learned a lot from [Steffen] at Columbus and all the other goalkeepers that have been there. So then … when it came to the USL, it was pretty easy, because I’ve played at a high level for two years training day in and day out with phenomenal players, so now it’s just replicating those situations in games.”

Bradley head coach Jim DeRose has had a front-row seat to Ketterer’s development since he joined the Braves roster in 2012. The 25-year coach said that Ketterer’s work ethic was exemplary in his time on the Hilltop. 

“[He was] first in the weight room, always in meetings, always doing extra reps,” DeRose said. “Here’s a guy that winds up getting drafted in the MLS over a lot of big-time names. I think some eyebrows were raised when he did get taken.”

Following a COVID-19 hiatus that paused the season after the first game on March 6, Locomotive FC has found success. The team is firmly entrenched in a playoff race with a 5-2-3 mark, including a 4-0-1 record over the last five matches. 

However, before Ketterer could provide his services on the field for the squad this season, he had to provide them away from the pitch, as he serves as El Paso’s player’s union representative. 

Prior to COVID-19, the players union was working toward the first collective bargaining agreement in league history, something Ketterer had experience with from MLS. But when the pandemic struck, the focus shifted. 

With lower revenues, the USL was looking to slash player salaries. However, the union was able to successfully avert a pay cut from the league, something that was crucial to Ketterer and his colleagues. 

“There are a lot of guys that are barely paying rent, barely paying any sort of bills, some guys lived at home, that’s just the way this league is,” Ketterer said. “We were willing to provide a little bit of relief because we understand COVID is very difficult for everybody, but we also weren’t going to put players out on the street because of some of the high percentages that the league wanted us to take.”

Additionally, with protests against racial injustice taking center stage in the sports world, Ketterer’s job as a representative was to make sure everybody’s voice was heard, especially in the El Paso locker room. 

“Our team is all about protecting our own team, so we’ve had a lot of deep conversations regarding our players and making sure everyone feels comfortable with what we’re doing, and everyone knows that we’re there for each other,” Ketterer said.

El Paso’s team is full of different perspectives, as 13 different countries are represented on the roster. Many players speak Spanish, which has inspired Ketterer to learn the language for the first time since high school, allowing him to better facilitate communication on and off of the field. 

Despite the different backgrounds and languages among the team, the teammates are all united by the global sport. 

“It’s good that everybody understands the love of futbol, and that kind of brings us all together,” Ketterer said. 

While Ketterer continues to shore up his professional resume, his work ethic left a lasting impression in Peoria both in the record books, where he ranks fifth in shutouts and sixth in all-time minutes, and on the coaching staff. 

“He’s done great,” DeRose said. “We rarely are ever going to win a recruiting battle over teams from the ACC and the Big Ten. But what we hope to do is develop players and young men so that they’re ready to thrive, and he is a perfect example.” 

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