SANDY, Utah – Anyone following Real Salt Lake this season has probably realized they are a special team.
On the backs of winning an MLS title last year, they have unlimited possibilities for the remainder of this season. They are mixing it up with the LA Galaxy and the Columbus Crew in the hunt for Supporters' Shield, have performed well to this point in the Champions League and could eclipse numerous team and league records by the season’s end.
Two veterans on the team, Andy Williams and Nick Rimando, have been on several successful MLS teams throughout their career and have a unique perspective on how special this team really is.
Rimando, in his 11th MLS season, started his career with the Miami Fusion and helped them to the Supporters' Shield in 2001. After that season, the Fusion folded and the goalie moved on to more success with D.C. United, including an MLS Cup victory in 2004.
According to Rimando, RSL stack up against those teams.
“We have something special here," the veteran 'keeper said. "Everybody plays for each other. There are no individuals here, and that’s why we are so good.
“You have players that you bring in from overseas that are big names – or [from] South America – and they are not too used to playing defense, but we got the good ones. We’ve got the players that want to play defense, that want to contribute to the team, and that’s why we’ve got the team records right now.”
Williams, in his 13th season, has been around the block and is now with his sixth team in the league. The Jamaican midfielder has had success at many of the stops along the way, but perhaps enjoyed the greatest success with the Chicago Fire in 2003.
That year, the Fire won the US Open Cup, the Supporters’ Shield and were runners-up in the MLS Cup. Does this Real Salt Lake team compare to that Fire squad?
“It’s pretty up there," said Williams. "For me, probably the best team I played on was the Chicago Fire with all of the national-team players that were on the team at that time.”
That team featured USMNT members Chris Armas, DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Ante Razov and C.J. Brown.
But after a bit more consideration, Williams added, “I think with our victory last year and the way we’ve played so far this year, we are kind of over-passing [that team].”