New England were so happy to be awarded a stoppage time penalty kick, they probably didn’t stop to think about the opposition. Nick Rimando is the one MLS goalkeeper you don’t want to face when you’re standing over a potential late game-tying goal; when the only things between you and an equalizer is 12 yards and one of the best penalty kick stoppers in Major League Soccer history.
It was Saer Sene that drew the no-win scenario on Wednesday. If he makes it, yeah, that’s what he’s supposed to do. There’s a reason why we usually say players “miss” penalties as opposed to having them “saved.” You’re expected to convert. How many players walk away from a missed conversion thinking “He made a great stop”? Usually, it’s “I should have gone the other way.”
It was the 92nd minute. Real Salt Lake had scored goals in the 77th (Devon Sandoval) and 89th (Olmes Garcia) to take a 2-1 lead, overturning the lead New England took in the 51st minute in through Ryan Guy. That’s when referee Juan Carlos Rivero stepped in, awarding a dubious penalty that saw Carlos Salciedo sent off with his second yellow card. New England had their chance to salvage a result.
Saer lined up a left-footed try, but as you’ll see, Rimando moved first, jumping right into the path of the eventual shot:
It was Rimando’s second penalty save of the season, his 19th in 60 career tries, and most importantly, it saved two points for Real Salt Lake – two points that vault RSL second in the Western Conference. For a team that carried a much-changed and injured roster into the season’s first months, 17 points in 11 games was about all they could reasonably expect come May 8.
For New England, we’ll have to see how they recover. Through much of the game, they seemed the side most likely to take full points, with Guy’s goal hinting this just wasn’t RSL’s night. But Salt Lake’s comeback leaves Jay Heap’s team with nine points from as many games. Perhaps more concerning: A defense that’d only given up six goals in eight games found a way to concede twice in the match’s final 13 minutes.