Real Salt Lake came back from a 1-0 loss in the first leg of their Wester Conference semifinal against the LA Galaxy to win 2-1 on aggregate and advance to face the Portland Timbers. A Chris Schuler goal in extra time ended the Galaxy's bid for a third straight MLS Cup and first since the departure of David Beckham (and Mike Magee). But it was Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando who was the true Man of the Match. And his face made the save of the game.
With Salt Lake up 2-0 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate in extra time, LA's Juninho launched a swerving shot from distance. It was speculative, but tricky for Rimando. After taking a bounce in front of him, the ball smacked him right in the face before he smothered it to end the unexpected danger. He then sat on the pitch and rubbed his stinging face.
This was just one more fine performance for a goalkeeper that has been excellent for club and country this year. He helped the U.S. to a Gold Cup title over the summer and now he could close out the year by adding an MLS Cup to his haul.
Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, meanwhile, came up small when the Galaxy needed them most. That said, their two MLS Cups and a Supporters' Shield since 2011 shouldn't be forgotten. Nick Rimando probably doesn't remember much of anything right now, though.
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