There is a lot that a coach can do to help his goalkeeper prepare for the possibility of facing a penalty kick in a game. Teams will take penalties in training on occasion and there are things that can be gleaned from watching video of previous penalty kicks taken by players and teams.
And while Nick Rimando does all of that work to ready for the possibility that in the 90th minute a player like Juninho could line up 12 yards away from goal with the result hanging in the balance, he has other edges, too.
“When you have somebody that’s in the net that’s so soccer-intelligent, so athletic, studies the league and knows the players and now has really created a mental edge on them, it really is remarkable,” RSL Head coach Jeff Cassar said on Tuesday on his weekly appearance on The Bill & OC Show on ESPN 700. “He’s able to explode from a set position and read the ball so well.”
In his MLS career, Rimando has allowed goals on 43 of the 67 penalties he’s faced in regular season play, a conversion rate (64.2%) well below that of the rest of the league. He is even more of a dominating force in front of the net since joining Real Salt Lake in 2007, allowing just 22 of the 37 penalties he’s faced to find the net (59.5%).
“You can kind of study the player and know what their tendencies are during the game. He does study film with our goalkeeper coach Daryl Shore,” Cassar said. “That does help out, but at the end of the day, it’s that instinct. It’s that knowledge of the players in the league. And then it’s that mental edge that Nicky seems to have with the shooter.”
Cassar talked about Rimando’s PK exploits and more in his weekly segment here.