You wouldn’t expect the 4th string Goalkeeper on a team that has historically rarely had to rely on any backups to even get a sniff of seeing any minutes; but the perfect storm of injuries allowed Andrew Putna to shine.
Putna was Real Salt Lake’s third draft pick (#48 overall) in 2017. In college he was the two-time GK of the year for the Horizon League, and he captained his team his junior and senior years. He also played in the PDL with the Chicago Fire U23’s.
RSL drafted him primarily for the Monarchs for 2017, and he had 4 starts for the team that year; which in itself was atypical of a 3rd string backup Keeper behind Connor Sparrow and Lalo Fernandez. After Lalo left for Mexico at the end of 2017 Putna figured to move up to second, but the Monarchs brought in Jake Leeker from PDL’s Des Moines Menace, and Putna remained at third. He still managed to pick up three more starts at over the first half of 2018.
Then the storm hit. RSL’s main backup for Nick Rimando, Alex Horwath ruptured his right achilles tendon in May, ending his season just as it began. Sparrow moved up to take his place, making Putna as Leeker’s backup. Then in July, Sparrow picked up an injury to his knee leaving RSL without a backup.
The coaching staff likely figured that with the rarity of Nick Rimando missing games over the years, it would be a safe bet to keep Leeker where he was, and bring Putna up as backup. The “future prospect” would get his chance sooner than expected.
Rimando pulled his hamstring in the closing minutes of the first half against Los Angeles FC on Auguest 15th. Putna replaced him for the second half, and made four saves to keep the score 2-0. With Nick still out three days later, Andrew got the start for the game in Houston.
Houston Dynamo’s fluke goal off a deflection wasn’t able to be saved, but Putna managed two other saves to keep the Dynamo at 1 for the rest of the game. Albert Rusnak did the rest giving RSL the win in stoppage time.
Horwath and Putna have been picked up for 2019, while Sparrow has been released. This may show he’s moved up in the pecking order. With the Monarchs also releasing all of it’s keepers, he may find himself as their first-stringer, and RSL’s third. We’ll have to await the off-season moves to see what happens.