SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica – He’s expected to be one of the most busiest Real Salt Lake players on the field on Tuesday night as Deportivo Saprissa will pour on the pressure to make up a 2-0 aggregate goal deficit in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal second leg (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
But he’ll also be the player enduring the most pain of anyone on the field.
RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando admitted that the bone spur floating around in his right ankle still causes pain, especially when it comes to goal kicks. But he refuses to ask any of his defenders to assume his duties.
“Don’t want to do that,” Rimando said on Monday. “I think it’s too much for the defender to close the space down. … If I can manage the pain and get the ball cleared, and our midfielders or forwards can do their jobs of winning the ball, we’ll be OK. My kicking won’t be the best, but I have to just clear the area.”
The 31-year-old netminder, now in his fifth season with RSL, said that he tried to get off pain medication this week to see how his body would hold up. His movements as a goalkeeper did not give problems to the ankle. It was the kicking motion that proved the culprit and it has forced him to get back on the medicinal regimen.
“It’s about managing that pain and I’m going to do everything I can to get that pain down before the game,” he said.
He has already played one match carrying the injury. On March 26 he manned the pipes in a 4-1 league win over Western rivals LA Galaxy.
But Rimando saw the lighter side of things this past April 1, when he fooled many with a tweet that indicated he would miss Tuesday’s CCL showdown here. The tweet contained a link to a photo of him on crutches.
“Surgery went well, thanks for a your concern and well wishes. Doc says only 2-3 weeks,” Rimando penned.
The truth, however, is that surgery has never crossed Rimando’s mind. And he says he hasn’t set any tentative dates for it, either.
“I’m just focusing on the next game,” he said. “For the LA game last week, I wanted to be in the net and I did everything I can and so did the trainers and coaches. It held up and we won the game.
“If I can get through this game, why can’t I get through the rest of the season?”