For 20 years, Nick Rimando has been unflappable, impenetrable and undeterred in his pursuit of greatness on the MLS pitch. He’s broken every record there is to break for goalkeepers, earned nine MLS All-Star nods and two MLS Cups, including and MLS Cup MVP performance in 2009.
For all of his inhuman saves that have earned him the nickname “The Wall of the Wasatch,” though, on Friday during his retirement press conference there was a moment of human nature that he’s rarely shown throughout his illustrious career.
Asked about his most memorable moment in his career – one that has included highlight moments, championships, a trip to the World Cup and record numbers of wins, shutouts and saves – he took a deep breath and measured his words carefully as he fought off emotions.
“Seeing my kids jump over that fence and run to me,” he started. “Seeing them …”
At that moment, the pride he holds in his two children, Benny and Jett, took over. Flanked by Benny and Jett, he showed a vulnerability never seen on the field and, by the looks of his children, rarely seen at home.
He paused, looked down at his hands – the same hands that have made nearly 1,700 saves throughout his MLS career and have only in rare instances let him down – and through tears finished his answer as best he could.
“Just seeing the way they look at me. That they’re proud of me,” he said, stopping for a brief laugh before continuing. “And seeing that they’re proud of what I’ve done. That soccer ball that I kicked when I was so small that has given me so much joy in my life and I was able to see the world and experience so many memorable things. But for me, it’s seeing these two kids and the way they look at me, how proud they are of me and that I made them proud.”
Those that know Nick can attest, sharing his memories with his children is easily a highlight for him. They join him on the field after every home game – win, lose or draw – and he’s taken from that moment back to what’s important to him. They were along for the ride for his ninth and final MLS All-Star Game in Orlando this year.
Bringing those three loves together – Benny, Jett and that magic soccer ball that has been a focal point of his professional life for 20 years – has brought him joy.
And while he will hang up his gloves once the 2019 season comes to a close and he is finding his next endeavor, those other two passions will still remain.
Benny and Jett.
Although his drive to play the game might not subside, it couldn’t outweigh the desire he has to be a big part in their lives.
“I have these two beautiful kids next to me that I want to be able to throw a football with and pick her up on her wedding day,” he said. I want to be able to enjoy their lives and you have to listen to your body sometimes.”
Before he takes that next ride, he has two final MLS regular season games with Real Salt Lake and a potential playoff run to follow. Seeking a third MLS Cup title to add to his mantle, the storybook ending is on his mind.
“Everybody wants to go out winning,” he said. “Of course, I want to give the fans one last trophy.”
Rimando also revealed that another MLS Cup run would also fulfill a dream he’s long held – to celebrate lifting a trophy with his daughter Benny.
After winning MLS Cup in 2009, Jett was in his arms on the award stand in Seattle and is in every picture. Now 10 years later, he wants to do the same with Benny.
“One thing I regret – and I always tell my daughter that I want to get her in a picture. He’s already had one with the trophy in hand,” he said. “So hopefully this year I can do that for her.”
Rimando will play his final regular season home game at Rio Tinto Stadium on Sunday when Real Salt Lake hosts the Houston Dynamo. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MT.