It seemed as if Real Salt Lake had averted disaster as Nick Rimando dived to his right, stopping Sebastian Giovinco’s penalty kick.
But that moment wouldn’t become a momentum-changer for RSL after all. The burst of Rimando magic faded into the background as the game unraveled into a 3-1 RSL loss to host Toronto FC at BMO Field Friday.
RSL coach Mike Petke kept his comments brief after losing to, yes, the defending champions, but also a team that entered the match scoreless in league play this season.
“I know what the problem is, and it’s going to be fixed, one way or the other,” Petke said on the KMYU postgame show.
The first penalty kick of the match came after RSL midfielder Damir Kreilachwas was called for a handball in the box in the 14th minute. He attempted to knock the ball from Jozy Altidore’s feet with a slide tackle as the Toronto forward chased down a through ball. Altidore cut it back, and as Kreilach slid past him, the ball bounced off Kreilach’s right arm.
Rimando stopped Giovinco’s PK and hopped up, celebrating with a double fist pump. RSL captain Kyle Beckerman ran in to embrace him.
RSL’s reaction to the next penalty kick, just eight minutes later, was not so jubilant.
The foul was called on center back Justen Glad, who knocked down Altidore in the box. This time Altidore took the penalty kick. He tested Rimando to his right again, but even as Rimando guessed correctly, Altidore’s line drive found the back of the net.
Altidore, after ending Toronto’s scoring drought, then netted the club’s second goal of the season in the 45th minute.
Sebastian Giovinco set up the goal by sending a pass into the box for Ashtone Morgan, as he ran in from the left side. RSL defender Brooks Lennon sprinted back to mark Morgan, but the Toronto outside back cut back to let Lennon run past him. As Morgan turned he saw Altidore ready to drive a shot home, and Morgan let the ball roll. Altidore swung through it to gave Toronto a 2-0 lead.
RSL was able to threaten a comeback in the second half as homegrown player Corey Baird came on for Joao Plata in the 70th minute and scored his first MLS goal just 12 minutes later.
“Corey Baird took his opportunity tonight. Excellent. Happy for him,” Petke said on the postgame show, before taking off his headphones and walking out of the frame.
Toronto’s Tosaint Rickets, however, erased any hope of a draw for RSL in the second minute of stoppage time.
Again, it seemed as if RSL had caught a break as Toronto Midfielder Ager Aketxe’s shot hit the crossbar. But Rickets followed the shot and lined one of his own into the back of the net.