Nick Rimando will remember Real Salt Lake's 1-0 defeat at Houston on Thursday night for a long while.
After playing the hero for 92 minutes, Rimando was poised to be the man of the match.
The RSL 'keeper, MLS’s all-time leader in penalty-kick save percentage (39 saves on 55 shots entering the game), had put himself up on the pedestal after saving Brad Davis’ penalty kick attempt in the 76th minute. The UCLA product also showed his cat-like reflexes on a save of a point-blank header from Will Bruin in the 82nd minute.
It appeared RSL was going to pick up a point. They had weathered the heat — 92 degrees with 65 percent humidity at kickoff — and had come agonizingly close to taking the full three points on a Nat Borchers header or a Ned Grabavoy run late in the match. But one little lapse from Rimando, and the nightmares continued in Houston for RSL.
WATCH: Clark scores winning PK for Houston
With mere seconds remaining, Houston sent a ball to the box. Rimando charged out hard and crashed into Macoumba Kandji, leaving the official little choice but to award a second penalty kick. Colin Clark stepped up to the spot and went hard down the middle, beating Rimando in the 94th minute to move RSL to an 0-8-1 record (all defeats coming as one-goal losses) in Houston.
“It’s one of those games where you do what you think is right; I don’t know if you call it a mistake,” said Rimando. “The ball is in the air, I’m coming in the air and not intending to hit Kandji, but it happens. He made a great run. We didn’t have any pressure on the ball and I committed. Once I committed, I had to go out. I didn’t want to get stuck in no-man’s land. At the end of the day, it’s a play I want to take back for sure and get these guys in the locker room a point back.”
Did the mistake cost the team a point? Probably. But one play doesn’t take away what the veteran has done for the club in the past six seasons.
“I think we need to be honest with ourselves and say that Nick Rimando made a mistake,” said RSL coach Jason Kreis. “He came out for a ball that he probably does need to come out for. A player like that probably makes one or two mistakes a year. He is holding his hands up in the locker room and on the field. He clearly knows he made a tactical judgment error, but that is OK. He has saved us many points along the way, so he will get a pass.”
At the end of the day, the story for RSL in Houston remains the same.
“I think we did enough to get a point here — one more save would have secured that,” said Rimando. “But at the end of the day, I’m very pleased with the guys' effort.
“[…] Down here, we don’t get a lot of points for some reason. We know what it feels like to lose down here. We just need to hold our heads high.”