The goalkeeper is a specialist when it comes to stopping spot-kicks.
This is Nick Rimando’s tenth season at Real Salt Lake, but while he may feel like a piece of the old furniture nowadays, he is still a valuable asset for this young team.
The 37-year old is well known for his exceptional reflexes, which have made him one of the best goalkeepers in the MLS.
During Real Salt Lake’s 0-0 with Toronto last Saturday, Rimando saved a Sebastian Giovinco’s penalty- his tenth since 2010. No goalkeeper in the league has managed to save more than six in the same time period.
Overall, the American has made 29 career penalty saves. He holds the league record for appearances (425) and clean sheets (130). He also has 22 caps for the USA.
It has led many, including fellow countryman Tim Howard calling Rimando the ‘greatest goalie in MLS history’.
Having won the MLS Cup twice in his career, once with DC United in 2004 and the other with Real Salt Lake in 2009, Rimando knows the means of winning trophies- he has the experience that youngsters in the squad crave for.
After the 0-0 draw on Saturday, Rimando told the media:
“Our goalkeeping coach does a great job with the tapes. We study hard, we have a good idea of who will take the kick, which way they will go, so its up to us to guess that way.
“Hopefully the next penalty we give away will end the same way.”
Real Salt Lake have been in a transition for the last couple of seasons. Head Coach Jeff Cassar is trying to embed more youngsters into the side, and has seen progress being made.
In 2016, they made the Play-Offs; losing out to LA Galaxy 3-1 on aggregate. However, that didn’t keep key midfielder Javier Morales from leaving.
Albert Rusnak has come in for a $450,000 transfer fee from FC Groningen as his replacement. The 22-year-old will step into Morales’ playmaker role on a designated player contract and it will be interesting to see how the Slovakian performs in what are big shoes to fill.
Eight notable players in the Real Salt Lake squad are aged 22 or younger, and should all make their positions their own, this could become a dangerous side for years to come.
Rimando stands as the old guard with the new kids on the block protecting him. This blend could be just what Real Salt Lake need to push themselves up the Western Conference and challenge once again for the MLS Cup.