Busch keeps "grinder" mentality after hitting personal milestone

Veteran 'keeper becomes 7th player in MLS history to hit 1000 saves

He’s “Mr. 1,000” now, but Jon Busch isn't wasting time patting himself on the back after hitting the century mark in career saves.

He has a lot more grinding to do. He’s a keeper.

A 5-foot-10 native of Queens, N.Y., and a big hockey fan, Busch became the seventh player in MLS history to reach the 1,000 save plateau with a point-blank stop on Erik Hurtado in the Earthquakes' 3-2 loss at the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on May 3.

Busch, 37, followed with his third shutout of the season in a 0-0 draw against the Colorado Rapids. Two more clean sheets, and he will have 79 shutouts for his career, matching former Earthquake Joe Cannon at No. 3 all time in MLS.

Stubborn and fiercely determined, Busch has answered his critics through the years in the best way possible: Through performance. He has refused to step aside.

“I’ve always kind of had the deck stacked against me,” Busch said. “I’ve always outworked people and proved people wrong. That’s kind of been my M.O. from the time I was 13, 14 years old when I started with the national team. It’s motivation that I use every day. Even in today’s world, so many good players, there’s still reporters and still people that question me, or think that I’m done, or gonna be done, or somebody’s gonna take it from me. I use all that kind of negative talk to fuel myself and just keep proving people wrong.”

Busch borrows from hockey parlance in describing himself as a “grinder.”

“I battle and I grind every day; those are the guys that you find in any sport that stick around the longest, you know,” he said.

For those who think he might be slowing down, Busch matched his career high with 33 starts in 2013 and recorded 100 saves for the sixth time in his career.

Father Time is getting quite a battle from Busch. People often predict that the end of his career has arrived, only to be proven wrong.

“I’ve been hearing that for three, four, five years now,” Busch said. “The age, I don’t even look at that. It’s more about how I feel and how I’m playing. That’s more of a measuring stick than how old I am. If I feel like I’m playing well, and I can continue to do that and stay healthy, then the years will just keep ticking.”

Busch made 367 saves with Columbus from 2002-06, and 240 with Chicago from 2007-09. He has 398 saves since joining the Earthquakes in 2010.

He is seventh all time in MLS with 106 wins, but Busch doesn’t seem fixated on personal landmarks. For the Quakes, it’s all about getting three points on Saturday and going on a hot streak.

 “Individual accomplishments aren’t something that I started playing for,” Busch said, referencing his 1,000 career saves. “If you stick around long enough, balls will hit you and you finally end up getting some stats. It’s gonna be a cool one when I’m all said and done.”

Known for his positioning and organizational skills in the back, and his toughness, Busch agrees that the vocal side of goalkeeping is a vital component of the craft. The idea is to keep players positioned properly so you don’t have to make a bunch of big saves.

 “It’s a very big part of goalkeeping,” he said. “The more experience you have, you are able to read situations better than when you were younger. I was always taught from a young age that the best goalkeepers in the world are the ones that organize the best in the games; are the ones that see the fewest shots per game. That’s something that was kind of beat into me in my early days. It’s something I really try to work on each game and make things not only easier for myself, but also for the guys in front of me.”

With all the roster fluctuations on the back line, Busch has embraced the challenge of adapting to different personnel.

“The nice thing for us, is even with the changes we have almost every game now, the guys are all seasoned professionals,” he said. “You look at Ty Harden and the couple of times he’s been called upon this season, he’s been tremendous. So he has the experience. That makes it a little bit easier when you put in a guy that has that experience in there.”

-- Richter Media