Well, that was certainly something else. This examiner is still at a loss for words.
Going into the weekend, no one, not even ardent Goats supporters could see the team beat Real Salt Lake. From the message boards, to social media, everyone wished the team the best, but was well prepared for the worse at the same time.
As the first half got underway, it looked like the same old story. Out possessed and practically played off the field, they even appeared to concede early before the referee whistled an RSL goal invalid. Still, it was obvious who the better team on the field was despite some bright spots on defense. Then the second half started. There was something different. These Goats were certainly not like their 1st half counterparts.
“Did they switch jerseys with RSL during the break”? this examiner asked.
The passed, they shot, they moved around with a purpose. Perhaps this observation was an exaggeration of sorts brought upon by the first two duds we all had to endure this season, but it was a sight to see. And while the level of play wasn’t perfect, it was the fact they were showing signs of life that was refreshing to many.
And then Casey Townsend met Nick Rimando.
Following a cross Rimando should have held onto, he briefly collided with the on rushing Goats rookie. As the ball dropped to the ground, Townsend pounced on it for the 1-0 lead (to the shock of those at the basin of the Wasatch Mountains, and the rest of the league for that matter).
This was Real Salt Lake though. To think they would curl up into a ball and go into the night with a whimper would be naïve. And so the onslaught began. For the next 23 minutes (including 5 excruciatingly long minutes of stoppage time), the defensive line and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy held their ground. A 93 minute, one on one save on RSL forward Fabian Espindola epitomized the defensive effort.
So what now? Are the Goats going to take the league by storm? As much as this examiner would hope to be the case, they are not. For as great of a result was, it won’t be the blue print for success. While a defensive effort as such could keep the other team scoreless, it won’t help much in beating the other team. And while Maryland Terps product Casey Townsend deserves props for his goal, it was more of a goalkeeper error than anything else. Unless of course the offensive strategy from now on is to get the opposing Goalkeeper to mess up.
The Goats return to the Home Depot Center this Sunday as they welcome the undefeated Sporting KC to town. Unless you are caught up in the intensity that is John Cena vs. The Rock at Wrestlemania 28, kickoff is at 6pm.