CARSON, Calif. – It was nearly two months ago now when LA Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini was at his lowest, having conceded five times in a 5-0 loss to the New England Revolution. He then sat out the Galaxy’s next game, a 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake, with Brian Rowe taking his place in net.
A younger keeper might not have been able to handle such disappointment but Cudicini, a long-time veteran of the English Premier League who joined the two-time defending MLS Cup champions during the offseason, has responded like the seasoned veteran he is with some of his best performances of the season.
A 4-2-1 record for Cudicini and LA in the seven games since the loss to Salt Lake is good, but could be a whole lot better if it were not for a trio of late goals against San Jose and Portland. Despite those defeats, Cudicini’s teammates and coaches have raved about his recent play.
“He’s getting in good form now,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “Over the last six or seven games he’s played well.”
Said left back Todd Dunivant, “He’s starting to come up with big saves every game. He’s really found his form and he’s been making the big saves when we’ve needed them. He’s played fantastic the last month. That save on Miller really kept us in it and really delivered that win for us.”
Dunivant was referring to Cudicini’s foot save on Vancouver’s Kenny Miller in the 73rd minute last Saturday, arguably the key point in a 2-1 Galaxy victory. It’s been nominated for the MLS Save of the Week.
“Finally a save that was worth something,” Cudicini joked after training Tuesday. “I was pleased with that. More than the save, I was pleased with how the team was doing.”
Cudicini has had his share of impressive saves lately. There was, for example, a double save on Portland’s Darlington Nagbe and Ryan Johnson with the score tied 1-1 at JELD-WEN Field on July 13. The Timbers, however, went on to win on a stoppage time goal.
Two weeks earlier, there was his save on a header by San Jose’s Adam Jahn on June 29, but Alan Gordon followed with a game-winning header moments later to give the Earthquakes a stunning, come-from-behind victory.
But for every big save he’s made, there are those who still think back to the June 2 debacle in New England. Cudicini acknowledged it wasn’t one of his best games – “You don’t want to concede that many goals, you don’t want to concede one,” he said -- but Dunivant said there was plenty of blame to go around that day.
“To be honest,” Dunivant said, “most of those goals weren’t his fault. It’s one of those things where sometimes the defense lets you down, and that’s what happened in that game. We left him out to dry.
“I think he’s responded like you’d expect a 20-year professional to respond. He’s played outstanding ever since then.”
Cudicini, who has seven shutouts and a 1.16 goals-against average, said that result, and sitting out the following match against RSL, actually helped foster his improved play of late.
“Personally, I feel that after the game at Salt Lake which I didn’t play, after that game I think, my performances were quite good and my standard is up to the expectations that the people here wanted from me,” he said. “That’s what I’m looking for, to be more consistent.”