Foxborough, Mass. • Controversy raged in front of Nick Rimando in the waning stages of Real Salt Lake’s 2-1 victory at New England.
None of his Real Salt Lake teammates quite understood why referee Juan Carlos Rivero pointed to the spot in the second minute of second-half stoppage time. The consensus after the game centered on an apparent handball. At least one player on the field said Rivero noted it was a handball.
Rivero’s decision to show Carlos Salcedo a second yellow card to conclude his full debut merely added to confusion because replays appeared to indicate Tony Beltran — if anyone — committed the handling offense. RSL coach Jason Kreis said he hoped the league would retract the dismissal when asked about it after the game, and the club is already contemplating an appeal. Rivero refused to answer a written question tendered by the pool reporter after the game to explain his decision.
Although Rimando noticed the chaos in front of him, he shifted his focus elsewhere and watched Jerry Bengtson and Saer Sene bicker over who should take the kick. He knew he needed to produce yet another penalty kick save — he had stopped 18 of the previous 59 attempts he had faced in his 14-year MLS career — to preserve the victory. And he understood the dissension within the Revolution ranks aided his cause.
“I let the other guys and the captain deal with all of that commotion, the red cards,” Rimando said. “I’m focusing on what is going on with who is taking it. They’re fighting about who is going to take it. Sene wanted to take the ball from Bengtson, and [Bengtson] didn’t want him to. He creates a little bit of pressure on himself, you know, taking the ball away from his teammate.”
Sene eventually wrested the ball away from Bengtson and stepped up to the spot. Rimando determined his intentions in the unconvincing buildup and lunged to his right to make the save required to ensure this late comeback — sparked by a first goal from rookie Devon Sandoval in the 77th minute and the winner from Olmes Garcia after 89 minutes — yielded all three points.
“He telegraphed it a little bit,” Rimando said. “I almost felt like I overdove. It hit my legs, and I thought for sure it was going to go right back to him. Luckily, Kyle [Beckerman] did a great job in covering me and pinned the ball out for a corner.”
Rimando’s late heroics protected what Kreis called “a big, emotional win for us.” This young side — stripped of key figures Nat Borchers (illness), Robbie Findley (left knee hyperextension) and Alvaro Saborio (right quadriceps tear) – navigated through this tricky fixture and pulled out the victory by ratcheting up the pressure as the second half progressed.
It eventually paid off when Sandoval poked home a rebound and Garcia swept home after Bobby Shuttleworth managed to parry away Beckerman’s drive from a Javier Morales corner kick. Rimando made it all stand up to ensure RSL departed for Montreal for the second game of this three-game road trip with a precious result in hand.
RSL 2, New England 1
Real Salt Lake 0 2 — 2
New England 0 1 — 1
First half » None.
Second half » 1, New England, Guy 1 (Rowe), 51st minute. 2, Real Salt Lake, Sandoval 1, 77th. 3, Real Salt Lake, Garcia 2, 89th.
Goalies » Real Salt Lake, Nick Rimando New England, Bobby Shuttleworth.
Yellow Cards • Salcedo, Real Salt Lake, 35th Nguyen, New England, 59th Toja, New England, 74th.
Red Cards • Salcedo, Real Salt Lake, 90th+.
Referee • Jose Carlos Rivero. Assistant Referees • Greg Barkey. Claudio Badea. 4th Official • Edvin Jurisevic.
Attendance » 8,040 (68,756)
Lineups: Real Salt Lake • Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Carlos Salcedo, Chris Wingert, Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy, Luis Gil (Sebastian Velasquez, 60th), Kyle Beckerman, Joao Plata (Olmes Garcia, 68th), Devon Sandoval (Kenny Mansally, 83rd). New England • Bobby Shuttleworth, Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, Andrew Farrell, Lee Nguyen (Juan Toja, 74th), Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez (Saer Sene, 65th), Stephen McCarthy, Scott Caldwell, Ryan Guy, Jerry Bengtson.