RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando thwarted every shot the LA Galaxy put his way, including a last-second penalty kick by Robbie Keane, in a season-opening 1-0 win. (Cal Sport Media/AP)
Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando is almost assuredly going to Brazil with the U.S. men's national team for the World Cup this summer, and for good reason.
As reliable as they come in MLS, Rimando denied Landon Donovan a chance at history and then preserved a win over the LA Galaxy with a stoppage-time penalty save of Robbie Keane in a 1-0 result at StubHub Center Saturday night.
With Donovan being played through perfectly by Keane in the 38th minute, Rimando held his ground and turned away a short-range curler, which was earmarked for career regular season goal No. 135 for Donovan and would have made him MLS' all-time leading scorer.
On a night when Rimando made eight saves in all, he saved his best for last. After a flailing Rob Friend was granted a penalty following a push from Tony Beltran while both vied for an Omar Gonzalez long ball in the RSL box, Keane -- not Donovan, which has been the Galaxy's custom since last season -- stepped to the spot with a chance to equalize.
Rimando played Keane perfectly, though, diving to his right to parry away the PK, make Joao Plata's goal stand up and kick off the post-Jason-Kreis era for the club with three points.
Because of a scheduling change that moved LA's game with D.C. United from March 15 to Aug. 27 to accommodate the Galaxy's involvement in the upcoming CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, Donovan will have to wait at least two weeks to break his tie with Jeff Cunningham atop the MLS all-time leaderboard. That next chance will come against Rimando and RSL again, but this time at Rio Tinto Stadium as opposed to StubHub Center in an early-season scheduling oddity that has the two Western Conference rivals playing a rematch so soon.
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RSL, meanwhile, will head to San Jose for the Earthquakes' season-opening game next Saturday prior to the second meeting with LA.
Watch Rimando's denial of Donovan's history and Keane's penalty (which helped bring him closer to a record of his own -- he is within three clean sheets of Kevin Hartman's MLS record of 112) below:
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