One hundred and eighty wins.
On Sunday, Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando reached that total after a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium, tying him with Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS record. The victory came in his 412th career start, surpassing Hartman in that category to become the all-time leader in MLS history.
While tying an all-time great in the league like Hartman is a meaningful milestone for Rimando, he made clear that he wasn’t satisfied simply matching Hartman’s illustrious numbers.
“I’m tied with it. I want to have it all to myself,” he smiled after the match. “It’ll come, but it feels good. It’s a big accomplishment I think. But it’s not just MY night. I hold it with a lot of players and defenders that I have played with over the years.”
Two of those players that he has played with are Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales. Together with the Claret-and-Cobalt since 2007, that trio helped RSL rise from MLS bottom-dwellers to MLS Cup champions in a matter of 18 months. Now in their 10th season playing together, Morales and Beckerman have a special appreciation for what Rimando has accomplished.
“Nicky, I can’t imagine this team without him. He has been here forever,” Morales grinned after the match, running slim on words to describe just how meaningful the Wall of the Wasatch has been through the years. “He’s great for us.”
Added Beckerman, “It’s just a testament to his hard work and being a great goalkeeper. I don’t know what other records he has to break, but I’d guess he’ll get it. He works extremely hard so it’s a testament to that work he puts in. I’m really happy for him.”
It was never an easy game for Rimando on Sunday. Although the statistics show just two saves, he was active in the box throughout the match, snaring balls out of the air and snuffing out other would-be dangers before Philadelphia’s opportunistic forwards had a chance to pounce.
“I thought he commanded his box extremely well. Philadelphia was getting a lot of service into the box especially late in the game. He looked really confident tonight,” RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar said. “We looked like a unit out there and Nicky was in the back there holding it down for us. I couldn’t be more proud of him and there are a lot more wins for him to get.”
Rimando’s next chance to surpass Hartman into sole possession of the all-time wins record will come on Wednesday when RSL meets Toronto FC at BMO Field. Now boasting a record of 8-3-7 on the season, Rimando has a clear focus on getting RSL back into the playoffs after missing the postseason for the first time since 2007. In reaching for that goal, he knew that some of the great goalkeeping marks would come with it.
“This year, I wouldn’t say I focused on it, but it was so close that I wanted to have it. I want to have those records and put my name on those sheets,” Rimando admitted. “It’s nothing personal, just something that I want to get to and it’s so close that I believe I can get there, especially with the team in front of me.”