Nick Rimando made three saves for Real Salt Lake, including two against Sebastian Giovinco, to help Real Salt Lake tie defending Eastern Conference champion Toronto FC 0-0 on Saturday in a Major League Soccer opener at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Giovinco was given a yellow card for unsporting behavior in the 82nd minute. He has 39 goals in two seasons and was the 2015 MLS Golden Boot winner.
Jozy Altidore got by two defenders and passed to Giovinco in the center of the box, but Rimando blocked Giovinco’s right-footed shot in the 58th minute. In the first half, Rimando ran outside the goalie box to slow Giovinco with the ball and tripped him while sliding. Rimando then dove to his right to block Giovinco’s penalty kick in the 31st minute.
“Well I mean it is huge,” RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said of Rimando’s presence. “The first 20 minutes were rough for us, we were under it. When you get those big timely saves like Nick does, it can energize a group. Once we weathered the first 20 minutes, the game settled down, we accomplished a lot of the things we wanted to.
“His presence to our back line, to our team, just elevates us. When the fans get into it after he makes a save, it just brings energy to the place and you see it really spurred us out. After he made that save, we were much better. We don’t want to have to always rely on that, but that is why he is for me. Arguably one of the best in MLS ever.”
RSL’s Albert Rusnak took two shots and Toronto’s Victor Vazquez played 29 minutes in their MLS debuts. RSL finished with 17 shots.
“We are still working on the final ball, the final product,” Cassar said. “I think we created a lot of the chances that we thought we were going to have but the quality has to be there. Obviously putting the ball in the back of the net is the most difficult part. It takes fine execution from everything.
“I do believe the elements were very tough today. The wind was very hard, balls were against the wind hanging up, with the wind going further. So it was a difficult night on that end, but I do like how I can see where the potential is.”
Clint Irwin stopped three shots for Toronto. The Canadian team lost 4-3 on penalty kicks to the Seattle Sounders FC in last season’s MLS Cup.