It was a soft call, but it was also one we’ve seen over and over again. Ned Grabavoy may not have been able to do much to get his arm out-of-the-way (a status that will no doubt draw a series of empty “ball to hand” appeals), but if a cross comes in and your arm’s away from your body, more often than not the whistle’s going to blow. Real Salt Lake’s broadcast team may have been right to call Jorge Rodriguez’s whistle soft, but Jason Kreis’s side couldn’t have any real complaints. Within the context of the modern game, the 36th minute penalty was almost obligatory.
So it was that Chivas USA midfielder Edgar Meija, after seeing his team give up early first half chances to Olmes García, Alvaro Saborío, Ned Grabavoy and Luis Gil, stood over a chance to put his team in front. Too bad he was going up against one of the best penalty kick stoppers in Major League Soccer history.
When Meija put a ball waist-high to the right of goal – an attempt unfortunately reminiscent of Landon Donovan’s failed try last week in Dallas – he made it too easy for the Real Salt Lake keeper to make his 18th career stop. Keeping the score 0-0 mid-way through the first half, Rimando increased his MLS penalty save rate to a remarkable 30.5 percent, opposing kickers only 41-for-59 all-time against the RSL stalwart.
Here’s the latest failed attempt, one that kept things even at a surprisingly vacant Rio Tinto: