In order to preserve his team's win on Wednesday night, Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando was called upon to extend his all-time MLS record for penalty-kick saves.
He did so, making his 19th career stop on Saer Sene's attempt in the second minute of stoppage time, ensuring a 2-1 RSL win over the New England Revolution.
"I don't know. I think there are just certain individuals out there that perform at the biggest moments and when they're called upon and when everybody is relying upon them," said coach Jason Kreis in a TV interview after the game.
"Credit to Nick for staying with that," Kreis continued. "I think we felt [the penalty] was a debatable decision in the first place. And then to yellow card the wrong player [Carlos Salcedo instead of Tony Beltran] for the hand ball. I think it could have been easy to get swept up in it and not have your mind focused. But Nick stayed in there and made a big, big save for us."
Rimando attributed his penalty kick stand to a few contributing factors.
“[Sene telegraphed it] a little bit, yeah," Rimando told reporters after the game. "We had Ned Grabavoy in his ear a little bit, kind of telegraphed it a little bit. … I almost felt like I over-dove. It hit my legs and I thought for sure it was going to go right back to him, but luckily, Kyle [Beckerman] did a great job in covering me and getting the ball out for a corner.
"They were fighting about who is going to take it," Rimando continued. "Sene wanted to take the ball from [Jerry] Bengtson and he didn’t want to. I’m glad. It creates a little pressure on himself, taking the ball away from his teammate and you try to just stall them as much as you can. That’s what I do, I concentrate on him and stay focused and let the guys kind of deal with the referees.”
Regardless of how, who or where the kick was taken, the fact remains, Rimando once again came up huge in a pressure-packed situation to preserve a win. But that didn't shock his coach that his 33-year-old keeper once again rose to the occasion.
"Nick is, I think, probably playing the best that I've ever seen him play," Kreis said. "That says a lot for his age and where he's at in his career. He's looking incredibly confident, incredibly positive and he's been a huge contributor to every win we've had."
Michael Black covers Real Salt Lake for MLSsoccer.com.