San Antonio FC goalkeeper Matt Cardone received a rare honor for players in his position when he was named the United Soccer League‘s (USL) Player of the Week, the league office announced on Tuesday. The award is given to the best player across USL play in a week, as adjudged by a national panel of independent media representatives.
This honor is often reserved for players at the opposite end of the pitch, as strikers tend to garner much of the attention for their goal scoring exploits. But Cardone’s recent performance against Saint Louis FC, where he made seven saves throughout match and was largely credited with keeping San Antonio FC’s lead intact, was enough to make him the third goalkeeper this season to win the award. The other two honorees were Louisville’s Scott Goodwin and Real Monarchs SLC’s Lalo Fernandez.
Saint Louis managed 12 shots throughout the match, but couldn’t get any of those efforts past Cardone, who often put his body on the line to make those crucial saves. He hit the pitch particularly hard after a spectacular save in the second half, keeping the hosts off the scoreboard but inciting worry over a possible concussion. Luckily, he was checked out by medical staff and cleared to finish the game.
Cardone’s biggest moment of the match came late in the second half when he made a save on a questionable penalty, his second penalty save of the season. The goalkeeper has been growing in confidence since taking over for starter Josh Ford, who suffered a season-ending injury. That confidence has been consistently showing in his steadily improving performances.
“It’s great to be named the USL Player of the Week,” Cardone stated in a press release. “It feels good to be part of a vital team win on the road as we push for the playoffs.”
The award made club history as Cardone became the first ever San Antonio FC player to win Player of the Week honors. It also marks his second time being selected for the Team of the Week bench, after being named second best goalkeeper of the week just seven days ago.
Top image: San Antonio FC Goalkeeper Matt Cardone makes a save against Saint Louis FC. Photo courtesy of Saint Louis FC/USL.