It seems like whenever I speak with goalkeepers or coaches about 1v1 goals they have given up, the common theme is "there was nothing the goalkeeper could do". Often times, a breakaway is compared to a penalty kick and there is little expectation for the GK to make a save.
I fully disagree.
When dealing with 1v1 situations the GOALKEEPER HAS THE SAME RIGHT TO MAKE A SAVE AS THE STRIKER DOES TO SCORE A GOAL. However, pressure is on the striker and the goalkeeper's mentality should be "try to beat me" - and in doing so the goalkeeper cannot give the striker an easy way out, or a "solution" to their problem of getting the ball in the net.
There is a lack of appreciation for goalkeepers who compose themselves and make saves in 1v1 situations. In order to create that appreciation for the goalkeeper's actions in breakaway situations, we must first see what actually qualifies as a "good" 1v1 save AND, in turn, what are some of the common mistakes.
There are several intricate details within a goalkeeper's approach that we work on when training 1v1 situations - angle play, starting position, noticing striker tendencies, etc. - but specifically this section covers a goalkeeper's strategy and ability to control the situation.
The most common tactic for goalkeepers is to rush out as fast as they can and slide through the ball before the striker can get a shot off. This aggressive strategy can sometimes work as it cuts down the angle and can even intimidate a striker - BUT there are situations where patience and staying on your feet is actually the correct choice.
Let's look at a situation, with MLS goalkeeper Andre Blake, when rushing out is NOT the preferred choice (scroll to 0:20 mark)
While you could argue that Kaka goes down easy, the problem from the goalkeeper's part is that Blake is out of control and hasn't assessed the situation correctly. There are three defenders in the area and Blake is by no means guaranteed the ball. For someone who is so good at explosive saves, it would make sense for Blake to stay home for this one and deal with the shot from distance. If Blake shows a little more patience, he has a much greater chance of saving the shot.
The second aspect of this is the reaction time of the goalkeeper. This is less about reflexes and more about being set, although both play an important role. The previous point, looking at the approach of a goalkeeper, is centered around the mental game plan while this is referring to the physical preparation. Sometimes 1v1 saves incorporate both of these aspects. Sometimes only one, depending on the situation.
One of the easiest goalkeepers to beat is a moving goalkeeper. If they're carelessly charging forward there are a variety of options for a striker to put the ball in the back of the net. A good example of this can be found in MLS goalkeeper Josh Saunders' first two conceded goals against New York Red Bulls last year.
See photos below: