Los Angeles Galaxy / MLS / Real Salt Lake / Union

Rimando's guesses and the expansion draft

Nick Rimando’s most amazing feat wasn’t that he stopped three penalty kicks to send Real Salt Lake to the MLS Cup.

It was that the RSL goalkeeper “guessed” right on six of seven shots.

Rimando reads penalty kicks so well that it’s clearly not guesswork for him. He went the right way on all but one Saturday night, even if he couldn’t get a hand on each. That ability could decide this Sunday’s championship match against the Los Angeles Galaxy and affect the pace of the game.

Don’t expect RSL to hit the gas on the attack against the Galaxy. They’ll likely pick their spots, hope for a Robbie Findley breakaway against a slow Galaxy defense, and generally try not to make mistakes, much as they did against the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

After all, when you have a PK “beast” like Rimando, as RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman called him, why not be content with a scoreless 120 minutes? If it goes to kicks, RSL know they have the advantage.

Could that make for a boring game? Hopefully not. This clearly isn’t the dream final some hoped to see. You can bet the MLS brass was rooting for Chicago, and if so, could you blame them? Chicago plays a more attractive brand of soccer (even with a hunchbacked playmaker) and may have the most talented squad in the league. A  BeckhamBlanco final might have prompted another 15,000 ticket sales, instead of just the 6,000 additional tickets now opened up for Sunday’s sellout game.

B ut this is what we have, and RSL definitely earned their win over Chicago. Now let’s just hope they make it worth it come Sunday, so we don’t spend the off-season wishing we had Beckham-Blanco instead of Beckham-boring.


While you’re watching the game Sunday, keep this in mind:

Two guys on the field (or the benches) could be playing in Chester next spring.

Major League Soccer’s expansion draft is scheduled for Nov. 25, three days after the championship game. Philadelphia Union can select 10 players from other teams’ rosters, though no more than one from any team. Each team can protect 11 players, their designated players and their Generation Adidas youth, presuming this year’s draft rules are the same as the 2008 rules. (The 2009 draft rules have not been announced yet.) Teams’ protected lists are expected to be made public next Monday.

The Union have the chance to find some real contributors in this draft, or they could walk away with nothing but trade bait and roster filler. The Seattle Sounders found starters Nate Jaqua, Brad Evans and James Riley in the expansion draft, as well as four other bench players, but other expansion teams haven’t fared as well.

If the Union draft well, they could field a competitive team on Day 1, much like the Sounders. If they don’t, it could be a while before this team does much in the results column.

When the protected lists come out early next week, we’ll have a rundown here of potential targets for Peter Nowak’s crew. I’ll put money on  Philly guy and soon-to-be free agent Jeff Larentowicz (and others) landing with the blue and gold. For the rest of the roster? Check back next Monday.

Posted via web from The Philly Soccer Page

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