Last Sunday, keeper Nick Rimando became the second keeper in MLS history to reach 100 shutouts, helping guide RSL to a 2-0 road victory over San Jose.
Last season, San Jose led the league with 72 goals scored, 13 more than the second-place team, led by golden boot winner and league MVP Chris Wondolowski, who scored 27 for the Earthquakes.
The shutout, Rimando's 64th since joining RSL in 2007, puts him just 12 shy of tying the record held by Kevin Hartman. Rimando, however, has played almost 100 games and 10,000 minutes less than Hartman, who hasn't signed with a club since being released by FC Dallas in November.
For the past three seasons, Rimando has notched 14, 13 and 12 saves respectively, making it possible that he could tie if not surpass the record before the season ends. Questions remain, however, about how quickly RSL's overhauled roster will mesh.
"This will be a different looking Real Salt Lake team. I do not believe that we are going to come out of the chute and put ourselves in first place in the first five or six weeks like we have done in the past two seasons," head coach Jason Kries said.
RSL’s new back four of Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Kenny Mansally have an average age of 25 and have a combined 139 career starts for RSL. With Jamison Olave having been traded and Nat Borches and Chris Wingert out with injury, defensive chemistry may be an issue this season.
“All four of them back there have proven to be good players in MLS and starters, but we really haven’t had all four together at the same time,” Rimando told MLSsoccer.com. “Borchers complemented Schuler, Olave complemented Kwame — it’s different when you have two young guys who get thrown in there to be on the same page right away.”
Still, Rimando remains optimistic at his chances of breaking the record.
"It is definitely there. I don't want to think about it too much, but it's definitely reachable," Rimando said after Sunday's game. "Depending on how long I'll play, I think I have a lot left in my tank, but I think I'll be able to get there with the help of these guys."