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Raul Gudino becomes newest Clasico Nacional hero with penalty save

10:04 PM EDT 9/30/18
Raul Gudino Chivas
The young goalkeeper was the best player on the field in the rivalry match, producing a showing that will delight fans in Guadalajara

Raul Gudino bent his knees, dove to his right, stopped a penalty, and became a Chivas hero. 

The 22-year-old goalkeeper already had been the best player in a 1-1 draw in the Clascio Nacional against America, stopping four dangerous shots from America as the match entered stoppage time. It all nearly came unraveled. Gudino was whistled for a penalty when he came off his line to clear out a ball over the top. He got the ball, but referee Cesar Arturo Ramos ruled the goalkeeper also had taken out the man. Up stepped Mateus Uribe with the chance to give America the victory in the rivalry match.

Gudino denied him the chance, in the process cementing his name in the history books as a legend in the rivalry. With the save, he kept Chivas squarely in the hunt for the postseason (their 15 points are good enough for the eighth and final place but they'd miss out on goal difference at the moment) and gave fans plenty of reasons to think they have a quality starting goalkeeper for some time to come.

The Chivas academy prospect returned to Guadalajara this summer after spending the last several years in Portugal with Porto B. With the Guadalajara side suffering financial difficulties, keeping high-priced Rodolfo Cota in net wasn't going to be an option. Instead, directors secured the return of the young shot-stopper.

Before the contest, Gudino noted that he had played several Clasico matches against America at the youth level and understood what it meant to participate in a game of this magnitude. He certainly didn't show many nerves, making some stunning saves on veteran Oribe Peralta and being beaten only by a deflected shot from Andres Ibarguen. It was a night for the goalkeeper to reintroduce himself to Mexico fans after several years of popping onto the radar only when he took part in a youth national team tournament.

"I’m really happy with 'Gudi' because he’s been doing things well as a goalkeeper, but he wasn’t playing much in Europe. He didn’t have much rhythm," Chivas manager Jose Cardozo said in his post-match news conference. "I’ve talked a lot with him, we’ve worked with him. He’s put in the work on his part to make it as a professional. He’s an excellent goalkeeper.

"He has an imposing physical presence that you really notice. I think that factored in a bit with Uribe on the penalty where the goalkeeper is really imposing in the goal."

Apart from simply his big frame, Gudino also has earned a reputation as something of a penalty specialist after a pair of stops against Brazil at the U-17 level. While he conceded after the match that stopping a penalty in that situation is "a dream come true" for a goalkeeper, he hardly was rejoicing after he helped secure the draw.

"I’m a bit disappointed with the result. We came to get three points, but we got one. It was down to the hard work the whole team did today and during the week," he said.

Gudino can downplay what happened - and it's fair to have wanted all three points in what would've been an enormous victory for a Chivas side still finding its feet - but he won the love and affection of Chivas fans Sunday night. Now he can build on that with more strong showings. Gudino is the backstop for a young group that is leaning on inexperienced players to get back into the places where the club is used to being.

"Chivas is able to win everything. We always want to be champions. It’s the biggest team, and you have to dream about" winning a title, he said. If Gudino can continue to back up those types of statements with big-time performances, he'll go down as more than simply a player who had a legendary game in a rivalry matchup, he'll go down as an outright legend.