SANDY, Utah — En route to setting the record for the most shutouts in MLS history, Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando admits he was worried at one point on Saturday night.
“To hear those fans out there screaming my name with two minutes left made me a little nervous,” he said with a smile. “But it's great to do it in front of the fans who stuck by me all my career here.”
Listening to the fans chant “Nick Ri-MAN-do” may have been the toughest thing about his 113th career shutout. Joao Plata scored once and Chris Schuler scored twice in the first half to put the home team up 3-0 over D.C. United — which proved to be the final score.
And DC weren't particularly dangerous on Saturday night; Rimando made only two saves, in the 70th and 86th minutes.
But it was a momentous occasion as Rimando set the record in front of the home fans, so he “was able to share that with them as well as my teammates and my coaches. It's something I dreamed of, making that record here.”
“I think it's important for him but it's good for us because he's a good guy,” said RSL midfielder Javier Morales. “He's one of the most important guys on this team, on this club.”
As is generally the case, Rimando deflected credit for the record onto is teammates.
“I don't think any shutout is for myself,” he said. “I have the name on the shutout but it's a committed effort from the team, so this is not only my record. My name is on it, but there are a lot of guys that should be getting credit for this.”
It was a record that everyone knew was coming, they just didn't know when.
“We knew that we had a lot more shutouts in us on this team. It was only a matter of time,” said Rimando, who didn't want to talk about the record much over the past few months.
“I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself and listen to the media or anybody else about getting shutouts,” he said, adding, “the guys in front of me helped me out big-time today.”
And helping him celebrate was DC head coach Ben Olsen, a former teammate and longtime friend who ran up to Rimando and gave him a big hug after the final whistle.
“We had breakfast this morning and, as much as he didn't want me to get that shutout against his team, I know that he's proud of me,” Rimando said.
So is RSL head coach Jeff Cassar, who was the team's longtime 'keepers coach until he was elevated to head coach this offseason.
“I don't really know what to say,” he told reporters. “Couldn't happen to a better person.”
But both Cassar and Rimando see shutout No. 113 as just another highlight in Rimando's career. And neither of them see that career ending anytime soon.
“There's a lot more to come,” Cassar said. “He's taken care of his body and as long as he stays healthy and fit, I'm sure there's going to be a lot more performances like tonight.”
Asked if he's playing the best soccer of his career right now, the 35-year-old keeper didn't agree, but he didn't disagree.
“I think I'm in good form right now,” he said. “I'm happy. I feel fit. I feel like I can help any team.... I feel good and I don't myself slowing up anytime soon.”