SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake’s last-minute loss to Sporting Kansas City was heartbreaking for the club.
Playing the majority of the second half a man down and refereeing inconsistencies marred an overall solid game for the first-place Claret-and-Cobalt. Lost in the controversy was the fact that RSL got another solid performance from goalkeeper Jeff Attinella in a pressure-packed atmosphere.
Making his first-ever MLS start, the 24-year-old Attinella was solid on Saturday, making four saves – including several big stops – and looking like he belonged at the highest level of American soccer.
“I feel like I played pretty well,” Attinella said after the match. “I felt like I was pretty comfortable back there. Obviously you never want to give up two goals, especially a goal in the 97th minute…. But overall I thought I did all right, even though it wasn’t enough to keep the point.”
Attinella’s save early in the second half on Kansas City’s Claudio Bieler kept his team even and gave the club the chance to pull ahead a few minutes later on Robbie Findley’s goal.
“I saw it at the last second,” Attinella said of the save. “I think Aaron (Maund) was doing a good job of making him hit a tough shot. He didn’t put too much pace on it but I saw it a little bit late and I was able to get over and get a touch to it. Fortunately for us he didn’t hit it too hard.”
With first-choice ‘keeper Nick Rimando away on international duty and original backup Josh Saunders out for the year with a torn ACL, Attinella could very well be in net again for Saturday’s road match at New York. That prospect doesn’t concern RSL, which looks like it’s in good hands with the third-year pro.
“He looked calm,” RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis said of Attinella on Saturday. “He looked like he was ready for it.”