SANDY, Utah -- Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore are one of the best forward pairs in MLS. But despite finding multiple scoring chances in Saturday’s season opening draw with Real Salt Lake, they weren’t able to put any past their host's backline or goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Giovinco had a first half penalty kick after being taken down in the box by Rimando, but Rimando saved the penalty for the 29th time in his career, jumpstarting a slow start from the home side.
"Whenever you can give your team a boost, and I feel that [making a penalty kick save] is a way a goalkeeper can give their team a boost when they need it,” Rimando said. “Once I made that save you could tell we had a little bit of a spark."
Toronto captain Michael Bradley felt that despite the penalty save, the defending Eastern Conference champions should have found a way to get three points.
“We had chances to win, by and large we probably deserved a little bit more,” Bradley said. “On the day, we weren’t sharp enough and didn’t take the advantage.”
While Giovinco was stoned from the spot and didn’t want to talk after the game, Altidore had an earlier opportunity in the 9th minute from the top of the box where he tried to chip an onrushing Rimando. Altidore benefited from a mishit from RSL center back Chris Schuler and put himself in a position to draw Rimando out. But the chip wasn’t high enough, and the 5-foot-9 Rimando was able to get a full palm on the shot, clawing it to safety.
The rest of the game Toronto struggled to get through the RSL backline, rarely finding opportunities to put anything on net.
Neither Schuler nor David Horst were Salt Lake’s first choice center backs heading into the season, but with Justen Glad away with the U-20 national team and Aaron Maund out with a hamstring injury, Schuler and Horst found themselves in the starting XI, and impressed RSL coach Jeff Cassar.
“I thought (they) got stronger as the game went on,” Cassar said. “That’s really encouraging. (Schuler) and Dave were very solid. Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran dealt with some midfield runners and the width that they show. They had to deal with a lot.”
In the 82nd minute, Giovinco darted into the box, executing multiple step overs while backing up the RSL defense. But his final touch got away from him and Rimando came sliding in. Giovinco's frustration was evident and he inadvertently stepped on Rimando’s hand while trying to avoid the sliding keeper, earning himself a yellow even after a long talk with the referee. By the end of 90 minutes, Altidore boiled over enough that he drew a yellow for grabbing Schuler after a dual.
Schuler and Horst used their size to their advantage and executed the RSL game plan to perfection – using physical play to keep Giovinco away from the center of the field and neutralizing Altidore through isolation.
“When you have big defenders, it makes it tough for those forwards,” Rimando said. “(Giovinco)’s not going to go for a ball against those two.”