He said maybe his best save was the first when he dove to his right to stop a hard free kick. He couldn’t handle the shot properly, but recovered to jump on the stray ball just as two Alajuelense players arrived. One of them inadvertently made contact with Rios Novo’s head, forcing him to stay down until coaches could examine him and Heinze could determine if there were any other players who could put on the gloves.
“It was a very difficult game with all the circumstances of the game,” he said. “Take a man down in the first half and play the whole second half against a man. The team had no choice but to come together like this, and it was a tough game.
Rios Novo showed his range of developing skills: he caught two more hard shots that were on him, he was forced to quickly change direction from left to right to stop another shot, he went out of his goal once to block another shot, and knocked away yet another.
Rios Novo joined Atlanta United 2 on loan from Lanús on March 2. He was Argentina’s starting goalie in the U-17 World Cup in 2017 and the U-17 South American Championship in 2019. Rios Novo had five shutouts in eight matches in 2019 to help Argentina to win his fourth South American Championship.
Rios Novo is likely to start the second leg of the series on Tuesday at Kennesaw State. Guzan can’t because of the red card. MLS teams are allowed to sign a specific player for four four-day contracts during the season. Rios Novo looked like he was ready.
“I think all my previous experiences can only help me,” he said. “Whether it’s experiences in Junior World Cups, or other matches in Argentina or in friendlies here in the preseason. I think it’s especially important for a goalkeeper to get minutes, so all of these experiences have helped me up to this point.