COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- After he openly considered benching Joe Nasco after the goalkeeper committed two egregious errors in a 5-1 loss at Real Salt Lake the week prior, Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni kept his faith and started Nasco again on Saturday night, and was rewarded for his patience.
Nasco came up with five saves, including three fine stops to deny Chris Wondolowski, in Colorado’s 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, with San Jose only claiming a point at the death on Atiba Harris’ 94th-minute dagger. Nasco was hardly to blame for the equalizer, and he came up with several key saves to put Colorado on the cusp of winning their first match since July 25.
For the first-year MLS 'keeper, a short memory proved extra valuable in removing early jitters.
“You have to learn from mistakes and that's kind of where everything has come from in what I've done and how to get here,” Nasco told reporters postgame on Saturday. “It’s just one thing at a time and if you dwell on things from the past then they come back and end up biting you a little bit. You take it for what it is and you learn from it.
"Same thing as tonight, we didn't get the win, scored very late in the game and we just have to take that for what it is and learn from it and move on into Seattle.”
The 30-year-old goalkeeper was able to shake some of the early butterflies on a diving fingertip save in the seventh minute, parrying Wondolowski’s shot over the bar. Later in the half, Nasco stood up Earthquakes midfielder Sam Cronin in the 43rd minute, and came up big again on Wondolowski in the final seconds of the match to preserve the draw.
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It was a far cry from September 19, when two Nasco blunders ended up in the back of the net, pouring salt on the wound of a stinging 5-1 road defeat to their archrivals. But Nasco’s reaction a week later spoke volumes to Mastroeni, who may now feel more secure in starting him again against the Sounders this Sunday (3 pm ET, UniMas).
“Obviously he was a bit unnervy at the beginning there,” Mastroeni said on Saturday of Nasco. “I think that was obviously a reaction to what happened the weekend before but by the end of the game he did a really good job organizing the guy in front of him and came up big on a few saves there.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.