BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi froze when Graham Zusi's cross flew through the air in the eighth minute of Sunday's 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City, caught between covering the on-rushing Kei Kamara and looking at the ball.
As it turned out, Kamara was the least of Tornaghi's worries as the ball curled into the upper corner of the goal over the Italian's outstretched fingertips.
“I think his intention was to cross the ball,” Tornaghi said. “Sometimes, that kind of ball can happen. We know Zusi has this kind of quality.”
Was there anything more the Fire's backup goalkeeper, who is playing while Sean Johnson is away on national team duty, should have done? He wasn't sure after the game.
“Everyone can see it was not a clear situation, it was a half-cross, half-shot, so I didn't have a chance to watch it again,” Tornaghi said. “I think it's better to watch it again on video and make a good analysis.”
Tornaghi has allowed his fair share of awkward goals this season. Last week against San Jose, Tornaghi dove to try to save a header by Alan Gordon, but the shot hit the crossbar and Gordon knocked in an open goal while Tornaghi was on the ground. In his only other start of the season, a 4-1 loss to Chivas USA, he was caught out of position on a free kick, and Joaquín Velázquez easily headed a shot over him and into the goal.
Through three starts, Tornaghi has a goals against average of 2.67, but coach Frank Klopas seems to think the fact that the 25-year-old had a few solid starts last year is evidence enough that he's a capable goalkeeper.
“He wasn’t inexperienced last year when he stepped in and played so I don’t look at it like that,” Klopas said. “I think it’s a position where you need games and rhythm to play and things that that will happen. We just have to move on.”
Tornaghi didn't make a save on Sunday, but he said his confidence is improving with each passing start. He'll have three more league games to prove himself before Johnson's return.
“[On Sunday] I felt a lot better than I did in the game before,” Tornaghi said. “The game in the beginning I was a little nervous because it had been several games since the last time I played, but now I’m rolling and it will get better game after game.”