In the 59th minute, a pair of MLS record-holders subbed into the 2019 MLS All-Star Game at Exploria Stadium. First, San Jose Earthquakes forward and the MLS all-time leading scorer Chris Wondolowski replaced Atlanta’s Josef Martinez on the front line. Then Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando – the leader in every goalkeeping statistic the league has to offer – replaced Andre Blake to a strong ovation from the Orlando crowd.
Behind his goal, the words of praise lingered in the air a moment longer and Rimando turned to the nearest section with a thumbs up to the fans that had weathered a storm that delayed the start of the match and left players and fans alike dampened throughout the 90 minutes.
For a goalkeeper playing in his 20th and final MLS season and earning his eighth career MLS All-Star nod, the night was a memorable one for many reasons. After the match – a 3-0 loss to 10-time La Liga champions and 2018-19 La Liga runners up Atletico Madrid – his children Jett and Benny joined him on the field in celebration of yet another landmark moment in his storied career.
“I was surprised to come into this All-Star Game. There are so many good goalkeepers in the league. For them to honor me in my last year, it was very special for me,” Rimando said after the match. “I brought my family out and it was a special one even though we lost.”
Since arriving in Orlando on Sunday, Rimando took the opportunity to live every moment of the spectacle. Whether it was signing autographs for fans, cracking jokes with fellow goalkeepers Blake and Brad Guzan or simply enjoying the company of some of the top names in MLS, Rimando was noticeably enjoying the atmosphere of his final MLS All-Star Game.
The record-smashing goalkeeper now returns to Utah, where RSL takes on New York City FC on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.