SANDY, Utah ― For the past few seasons, the Real Salt Lake goalkeeping situation has been very consistent with Nick Rimando the starter and Kyle Reynish backing him up. That all changed in the first week of December when RSL declined its contract option on Reynish. But it certainly didn't take the team long to stabilize the goalkeeper position as the club brought back its No. 14 pick in the 2011 Supplemental Draft Jeff Attinella.
"It's obviously easier this time around because I already have a contract," said Attinella from the second stage of RSL training camp in Irvine, Calif. "I don't have to worry as much, but that doesn't mean I don't still have as much to prove. I want to go out and show the club what I am capable of and just work hard every day to get better."
Since his release before the 2011 MLS season began, Attinella played with his hometown team the Tampa Bay Rowdies of NASL, leading the team to a championship last season, including saving three penalty kicks in the deciding game of the championship series. He was also named to the NASL Best XI.
"It was hard to be released last time because any time a team drafts you, you hope you can make the team, but I gained a ton of experience playing in NASL," said Atinnella. "The time really helped me because I was able to start for basically two seasons. If I had stayed with Real, I would have basically been a No. 4 'keeper, and not a lot of fourth-string goalies get a lot of playing time.
"There isn't really any substitute for game experience," he continued. "I was a little bit nervous when I first got here. The game was so much quicker than I was used to. NASL really helped me get used to the speed, helped me with having the confidence to go out and play at the top level."
Atinnella knows he still has room to grow as a goalkeeper, and he is looking forward to learning from a couple that are among the best in the business: Rimando and goalkeeping coach Jeff Cassar.
"I think I can learn a ton. I am really, really excited to play with Nick and Jeff," Attinella said. "It was one of the main reasons I looked forward to coming back. He (Rimando) has accomplished so much, and I am sure I will learn a ton training with them everyday."