By TYLER GRAY
Nick Rimando did it again.
The veteran Real Salt Lake goalkeeper saved yet another penalty kick, his MLS career-leading 19th penalty kick save, to protect a lead in the final minutes of a 2-1 RSL comeback victory at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday night.
Colombian striker Olmes Garcia’s late-game goal proved to be the winner on a night when New England looked ready to record a home victory. RSL pulled off a late rally though, with rookie Devon Sandoval and Garcia scoring the goals that gave the visitors the late second-half lead.
Saer Sene’s penalty attempt wasn’t the toughest Rimando has ever saved, but he smothered it to prevent a final-minute stumble, and keep rookie Carlos Salcedo from being labeled a goat for being called for a questionable penalty.
It was Salcedo’s first start of his career in the center of defense with RSL’s Nat Borchers and Kwame Watson-Siriboe unavailable for the match. It looked as if the yellow should have been issued to right back Tony Beltran but it did not matter as Salcedo got his second yellow for the foul and was ejected.
Sene stepped up to the spot to take the kick and tried to beat Rimando to his right. Sene didn’t but didn’t put enough on it but it was too late as Rimando stuffed the shot and Beltran was able to clear it out to safety.
A couple of minutes later referee Jose Carlos Rivero blew the final whistle and the game ended 2-1 with RSL the road winners.
The game started out very slowly with both sides feeling each other out but it was New England who struck first. Coming out of the break New England was determined to take the game to the Claret and Cobalt.
New England midfielder Lee Nguyen played a well-weighted ball to Kelyn Rowe who ran onto it, taking the ball all the way to the endline and cutting it back to the top of the 18 where Ryan Guy was waiting. Guy put his foot through the ball and Rimando could do nothing as the shot flashed past him and into the back of the net. 1-0 New England.
RSL then decided to wake up and pushed back in order to find the equalizer. It would come in the 77th minute from RSL rookie Devon Sandoval’s first career MLS goal. Beltran got the ball wide for RSL and played a cross into the box that fell to Velasquez who tried a shot from a tight angle. New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth parried it away to an ambitious Sandoval who pounced and poked the ball into the top of the net.
RSL seemed content with the road point when they subbed on Abdoulie Mansally for Sandoval to bolster their midfield but were opportunistic once again in the 89th minute. Garcia was able to latch onto another rebounded shot and put it home for the lead.
New England had their final PK chance but were unable to capitalize and walk away, yet again, with zero points. RSL on the other hand had their first back-to-back victory on the season.
Both teams will play again this Saturday with New England playing the Red Bulls at home and RSL flying to Montreal to take on the Impact.
Here are the match highlights: