It took five trips over three years, but Real Salt Lake finally got a point on the road in Minnesota — and goalkeeper Andrew Putna led the way.
Putna had a breakout game between the sticks, picking up seven saves and one caught cross as RSL traveled to Allianz Field on Sunday and played the Loons to a scoreless draw in a game without fans. It was his third shutout of the season and fifth of his career.
“He was massive for us on a couple of occasions tonight,” defender Justen Glad said of Putna. “So hats off to him. In road games like this, you need your goalie to come up and make big saves sometimes and Putna did that for us tonight.”
Putna’s seven saves are the second most of his three-year career in Major League Soccer. He amassed eight saves earlier this month in the 3-0 win over LAFC.
Putna admitted that as a goalkeeper, one of his weaknesses is having the ball at his feet, a skill for which the retired Nick Rimando was known. So as he improves that part of his game, Putna is focusing on what he feels he does best: keeping the ball out of his net.
“I would definitely say that shot-stopping is one of my strengths for goalkeeping,” Putna said. “Obviously it’s not a secret that I’m not the greatest with my feet. So I have to be good in other areas. And tonight I was decent at shot-stopping.”
Putna was more than decent. Some of his saves were downright spectacular.
In the 49th minute, Loons forward Emanuel Reynoso, the club’s Argentinian transfer, cut away from RSL defender Nedum Onuoha with just Putna to beat about 10 yards away from the goal. Reynoso’s right-footed strike was on target, but Putna contorted his body in such a way that his chest saved the shot from going in.
A few minutes later, Reynoso curled a free kick that look destined to find the back of the net. But Putna’s length allowed him to get enough of the ball to direct it over the crossbar.
In all, Putna saved three of Reynoso’s attempts on target.
“What we’ve seen from Putna the last three years is he’s a great shot-stopper,” RSL coach Freddy Juarez said. “He’s a big frame, he’s really brave, he’s going to go and throw his body on the line. And that’s what he had to do.”
The Loons outshot RSL 14-12, while putting seven shots on frame to Real’s four. Minnesota goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair picked up four saves of his own and a shutout.
“Both keepers were good on the night and they deserved a shutout,” Juarez said.
Glad, who started at left back Sunday for the first time in his career, gets a front-row seat his goalkeeper’s exploits due to his position on the back line. It seems like he felt relief when watching Putna make some of the saves he did against the Loons.
“In the moment I was thinking, 'Thank god, thank god he made that save,” Glad said of Putna.
Putna, who won the starting goalkeeper spot from veteran Zac MacMath a few weeks ago, stayed humble about his big night.
“I just try to train hard every week and make sure I’m ready for the game,” Putna said. “That’s all I can do.”