CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy aren’t publicly calling Jaime Penedo their No. 1 man in net, but it’s clear that for now, it’s become his position to lose.
The Panamanian international is expected to make his fourth consecutive start on Saturday night against San Jose (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live) on the heels of three consecutive shutouts and a performance last weekend against the Vancovuer Whitecaps that earned him the MLS Save of the Week in runaway fashion.
“Jaime has real qualities in goal, and they showed a little bit last game with potentially the Save of the Year,” associate head coach Dave Sarachan said. “His ability not to quit on that play [in which he stopped Jordan Harvey's shot] tells you a lot about him as a person. That's the energy he brings every day.”
“I think those that are in the moment are in the moment,” Sarachan responded when asked in Penedo was the clear No. 1. “And I think it's clear that he did nothing to lose that role for the next game. But I wouldn't put labels on any player, because you're judged every game.”
Penedo's confidence coming off his line has separated him from the previous No. 1, 39-year-old Italian Carlo Cudicini, who hasn't made the 18-man game roster since a 3-3 draw Aug. 11 at FC Dallas. He's been nearly impeccable dealing with crosses into his goalmouth and last week raced to the edge of his box to head away a long ball Darren Mattocks was chasing down.
Cudicini was impressed with Penedo, too, with the “important save at the end to keep the three points for us,” but after starting 20 of the first 22 league games and all four Champions League games at the start of the season, he's disappointed to be watching now.
“Of course I am. Absolutely,” said Cudicini, who could return to the field next week against Colorado when Penedo is away for World Cup qualifiers. “But there's no room for disappointment in football. You have to adjust, work hard, do your best, and then at the end I think [what you do on] the pitch is the best answer.”
Penedo's big save, meanwhile, was a marvel: He had leapt well past the right post trying to get to Kekuta Manneh's blast that hit the post and was well out of position when the ball rebounded straight to Harvey, alone with any empty net before him. It was a difficult ball to tame, and that enabled Penedo to race into the goalmouth and dive fully extended to swat the shot away.
“If a goalkeeper tried to explain a save like that, I think they're lying,” Penedo said through a translator. “The forward always has in his mind sort of the microchip that he's going to score. A goalkeeper has in his mind a microchip that says he can stop the ball. What I did, I just got up from the field and I ran, ran, ran until I got the ball.”