Nick Rimando’s performance in Real Salt Lake's league opener on Saturday wasn’t just good – it was something special.
The RSL shot-stopper made 10 saves at San Jose, the sixth time in his 11-plus seasons that he’s reached double digits. That's a rare feat for goalkeepers – the last time Rimando did that was in September 2007 against Toronto when he registered 12 stops.
”When you have a veteran goalkeeper and great shot stopper like Nick, it gives the defense a lot more confidence,” said defender Nat Borchers after the match in San Jose. “He was awesome tonight. We got the shutout and I attribute most of that to him.”
Across the league in 2010, goalkeepers only reached double-digits in saves on two occasions: once by Bouna Coundoul, who had 12 against Kansas City, and also by Preston Burpo, who had 10 against FC Dallas.
It’s even more unusual for a team like Real Salt Lake, who have a defense that is typically stout. They allowed the second-fewest shots on goal in 2010, with only 113 – less than four per game. The fact that Rimando had the opportunity to make that many stops is highly unusual.
Rimando has been known as a quality ‘keeper his entire career, but has perhaps reached the pinnacle in the last two-and-a-half seasons. His performances in the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs were crucial to the team ultimately winning the trophy. That year, the veteran stopper showed his skill in penalty shootouts in both the Eastern Conference Championship and the MLS Cup final, making key stops in each.
Last season was a stellar one all around as Rimando set the second-highest goals-against average in league history (0.67). En route to that, his team set a record for fewest goals allowed in a season (20) and Rimando notched 14 shutouts.
However, he has been overlooked at times with postseason rewards because the team’s defensive success often results in Rimando being under-worked in net. This past weekend on a rainy, windy night in San Jose, that wasn’t the case.
With defenders slipping on the surface in front of him, Rimando was called upon time and time again. He made one diving save after another against the Earthquakes, himself struggling to keep his feet. The heroic performance was no ordinary quality game from a goalkeeper.
“Today was my day,” Rimando told The Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday night. “Luck was on my side today, and I was able to get a piece of those balls. It sucked, with the rain and the wind. But I think luck was on my side today.”