Nick Rimando deserved a reward. After all, he propelled Real Salt Lake to the 2009 MLS Cup championship with stellar playoff performances and, in 2010, posted the second-lowest goals-against average of all time in league history.
So this week, in the latest of a series of offseason contract maneuvers from the club, RSL signed the goalkeeper to a one-year extension that will see Rimando remain with the club through the 2013 season.
“It was a deal we did not have to do,” said RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey, “but we wanted to do it because we thought it sends the right message to our group: that we reward the guys who do well for us and we’d like those guys to stay with us.”
For his part, Rimando realized that he would have to reach a compromise so that both he and the club could achieve what they wanted, which was to keep the core of the team together.
“I’ve been in this league now for 10-plus years,” said the veteran, now entering his fifth season with RSL. “You can’t be reaching for the bank if you want to be on a good team and win championships.”
At 31 years of age, nobody questions whether or not Rimando can maintain his current run of success for years to come.
[inline_node:320853]“For Nick, if he takes care of himself, he can play a long time,” said Lagerwey, who referred to the recent retirement of 41-year-old Pat Onstad as an example.
Rimando, meanwhile, feels like he’s actually just beginning to peak as a player.
“I think a goalkeeper is in their prime in their 30s,” he said. “I’ve had some pretty good years these last couple of years. I plan to continue to do that and I wanted to do that in [an RSL] shirt.”
Teammate Will Johnson, himself the recipient of an offseason deal, feels like this is another good move for the club.
“It’s exciting that this club has put so much faith in this core group of guys and rewarded us for what we brought to the table over the last couple of years,” said Johnson.
For Lagerwey, the recent rash of moves – which include the acquisition of forward Alvaro Saborio and extending the loan contract for Paulo Jr. – reflects Real Salt Lake’s desire to be competitive in the long-term.
“We are running this [team] like a small-market team,” explained Lagerway. “ We can’t go out and get big free agents and compete with some of the big spenders, but what we can do is keep our guys and be loyal to our guys and build something over time.”
Rimando is clearly glad to be where he is, and feels like the difference between the current squad and that of 2007, when he first joined RSL, is like “night and day.”
“The coaching staff, the front office, the players – we have the right mind set now,” he said. “All we want to do now when we step on the field is win.”