The Seattle Sounders had a surprise starter in goal for their friendly against Borussia Dortmund Wednesday night: 8-year-old Bheem Goyal.
Goyal is fighting acute lymphocytic leukemia and played against the German giants thanks to a partnership between the Sounders and Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington. Seattle announced Goyal’s signing with an official press release July 10, noting the youngster “calls the club’s 2016 MLS Cup championship the greatest moment in his life and uses the team as subjects for school assignments whenever possible.”
Ahead of his appearance against Dortmund at CenturyLink Field, Goyal joined the Sounders for a first-team training session. He took pointers from the team’s regular No. 1 keeper, Stefan Frei, and Seattle’s director of goalkeeping, Tom Dutra.
Goyal’s face was among stars such as Raúl Ruidiaz, Cristian Roldan and Harry Shipp on the Sounders’ lineup graphic for the game.
Dortmund kicked off and immediately tested Goyal with a shot from distance. The ‘keeper was up to the challenge, calmly saving with his right foot before showing his distribution skills with a pass to centerback Xavier Arreaga. Goyal then subbed off for Bryan Meredith to a standing ovation.
What a debut. What a moment. 💚
Eight-year-old Bheem Goyal starts in goal and makes an opening save!
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) July 18, 2019
Goyal was the first point in Ari Liljenwall’s takeaways from the game.
“The Sounders got a first look at one of the club’s bright young prospects on Wednesday, as 8-year-old rookie goalkeeper Bheem Goyal made his first-team debut in the contest,” Liljenwall wrote for the team website. “It was a big stage for the young goalkeeper’s first action, but he rose to the occasion, making an early save on a Dortmund shot in just the first minute before dishing a pinpoint feed to teammate Xavier Arreaga. If the kid keeps this up, he might just push Stefan Frei for the starting role.”
Dortmund defeated Seattle 3-1 on goals from Marius Wolf, Paco Alcácer and Jadon Sancho. Jonathan Campbell scored for the home side.