Columbus Crew's Steve Clark explains PK save on Fabian Espindola: "I knew he was going to go there"
But for a battered, shorthanded Crew team playing their third match in eight days, stealing a draw against D.C. United before the World Cup break seemed much more important, making Clark's decision to stand still and stop Espindola's Panenka attempt even more incredible.
Both Clark and head coach Gregg Berhalter gave credit to assistant coach and former MLS goalkeeper Pat Onstad for providing the advice to stand still, but Berhalter admitted that Clark's decision took some fortitude.
“What can I say about it?” Berhalter said after the match. “It took a lot of guts by him. Pat has been working with him and telling him where the shooter goes. He gave him two options.
“When a goalie stands still, it can go bad quickly. But he did it, had the courage to do it, and he came up with a great save.”
“Obviously, I wasn't too happy with the call, but it's okay,” Gehrig said. “Right when [Grajeda] called it, I actually ran up to [Clark] and said, 'you're going to save it, Steve.'”
But Clark had all the confidence he needed before the call was made, and said that he never planned on moving.
“We had pretty good intel from our goalkeeper trainer Pat Onstad, he's done a great job all year,” Clark said. “So I felt like I knew [Espindola] was going to go there. And I had my cues, so I just waited him out. I didn't care if he was going to score, I was going to wait up the middle.”
Clark admitted that he had his nerves, but said that it can't be a part of his game.
“As a goalkeeper, you learn very young that if you can't be mentally tough, then you should probably find a new position,” he said. “There are a lot of things going on. Once the penalty was called, I just focused. I think a lot of it is accepting a goal if he's going to go somewhere else, because I was going to stay up the gut.”
The nerves were easier to handle when Clark saw the lofted kick fly right to him, and didn't seem to believe that Espindola played so perfectly into his hands.
“When he hit it there, I was just like, 'Oh my God, he hit it up the middle,' and I caught it,” he said with a laugh.