Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Zac MacMath

Photo by Earl Gardner

Penalty kicks are rare events. Teams can go weeks if not months without a penalty being given either for or against them. So, when a goalkeeper faces penalty kicks in consecutive games—separated by little more than five minutes of actual game time, no less—that’s unusual.

Rarer than penalty kicks, of course, are saved penalty kicks. If taken correctly, the received wisdom goes, the goalkeeper stands little chance of saving the day. Many keepers will see double-digits’ worth of PKs and save none of them.

So, what Zac MacMath has done in the past two games is remarkable. Set aside, for a moment, that Luke Mulholland put away the rebound on Saturday. After stoning Mike Magee in Chicago, MacMath stuffed Alvaro Saborio at PPL Park. Against Saborio, not only did he dive the correct direction, but he had the physical wherewithal to reach back behind him to keep the ball out, because he had anticipated Saborio’s kick so well his shoulders were ahead of it.

That said, even MacMath will tell you that saving penalty kicks, for all their drama, involves a lot of luck. Maybe so. What’s clear, however, is that, through six games, Zac MacMath is playing with a different sort of confidence than he’s ever displayed before. More than the penalty saves, he has come through in big moments for the Union, whether it be stopping Diego Fagundez from stealing a point for New England, or simply commanding his box with an authority he has sometimes lacked during his short career.

In short, he’s been the best, most consistent player for a Union team that is, though frustrating, full of good players. He’s made the spectacular saves, but also done the solid, foundational work that every keeper needs to do to earn the trust of his teammates and fanbase. That’s why he’s PSP’s Player of the Week, again.

Honorable mentions: Chaco Maidana and Andrew Wenger. Maidana made only a brief appearance as a substitute, but his impact was immediate and dramatic. Stretching play to the left touchline and beating his man around the corner, Maidana was dangerous with the ball at his feet and through his service, which produced the equalizing goal. Wenger did just about all one could ask of a new player arriving on a new team, replacing a big name: score. But his work was much more well-rounded than that. Aside from getting on the end of Vincent Nogueira’s delightful cross-field pass, he made himself a nuisance to the RSL back line all game long. Good omens of things to come.

3 Comments

  1. I agree completely, but don’t forget the impact that having Blake on the bench may be having on Zac’s performance this season. Nothing is more motivating than competition.

    • I think Blake’s influence is kind of overrated. If anything he is playing for his next job seeing the Union have no interest in paying him once his contract runs out.
      Money and spite are pretty good motivators.

  2. JediLos117 says:

    He’s playing pissed.
    .
    He should be starting in MLS’s team of the week.

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