Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIPhotos.com
By TYLER GRAY
On a night full of outstanding saves, it was Nick Rimando who shined the brightest in the end.
Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, and RSL’s Rimando, had quite the battle Saturday night with each goalkeeper making multiple highlight-worthy saves. The match seemed destined to be a draw until RSL forward Joao Plata decided to make his mark. “Platita,” as he’s known to his teammates, scored the lone goal of the match in the 79th minute and secured the 1-0 victory for the visiting team.
The result wasn’t certain, however, until the final minute of the match when a penalty was awarded to the Galaxy after it appeared that RSL defender Tony Beltran undercut LA forward, Rob Friend. Robbie Keane stepped to spot to knot the match up, but Rimando read it all the way and dove to his right, pushing the shot over the end line and out for the corner.
The save was just the cherry on top of a virtuoso goalkeeping performance that might stand as one of the best of the season after just week one. Rimando contributed nine total saves with many of them coming from point-blank range.
Landon Donovan had one such chance in the 38th minute after teammate Keane played a perfectly weighted ball to the streaking 32-year old forward. Donovan then tried to one-time a curled shot past RSL’s ‘keeper. Rimando stayed low and pawed away the potential record-breaking score.
Rimando’s performance would have been perfect had it not been for an uncharacteristic blunder in the 34th minute. Rimando, instead of lumping the ball forward, tried to place a lobbed pass to Beltran on the boundary but ended up misplaying the ball and sending it right to Donovan instead. The Galaxy forward then fed the ball to Keane who blasted a wide-open shot, leaving Rimando flat-footed in front of goal. It was clearly the RSL ‘keeper’s night, however, when the ball rebounded violently off the far post preserving the shutout.
Rimando now stands just 4 shutouts away from passing Kevin Hartman atop the MLS record books and, at this point, it seems like a foregone conclusion. Rimando, remarkably, is still very much at the top of his game and proved it all match long.
Rimando, and indeed RSL as a team, may have been exorcising some pent-up demons after their narrow shootout loss in the MLS cup final a short three months earlier. Or it could have been the Goalkeeper of the Year snub from last season that was fueling the veteran goalkeeper’s performance. Whatever it was, Rimando showed yet again that he is not going anywhere.