Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
SANDY — The U.S. National Team will play twice at Rio Tinto Stadium this summer, and Nick Rimando is thrilled for several reasons.
Not only is he excited for Real Salt Lake supporters, who he said “deserve to have a game here,” but Rimando knows what a great opportunity the matches represents for himself.
Like any professional soccer player, Rimando dreams of representing his country in the World Cup — and he’s as close to fulfilling his dream as he’s ever been.
Rimando is routinely called into U.S. National Team camp these days, and it would seem he’s in line to make the 2014 World Cup roster assuming the United States qualifies.
The potential is there for him to boost his résumé in his own backyard this summer.
The United States will play a World Cup qualifying match and a CONCACAF Gold Cup match at Rio Tinto Stadium this summer, and Rimando is a good bet to be on the roster for both matches.
The World Cup qualifying match on June 18 between the United States and Honduras hasn’t officially been announced, but an RSL spokesman confirmed it will become official next week.
The match will be the second qualifier in Rio Tinto Stadium history. The United States defeated El Salvador 2-1 in a qualifying match back in September 2009.
The Gold Cup matches were officially announced on Wednesday.
Rio Tinto Stadium will host a Group C doubleheader on July 13, with the United States facing Cuba in the first game and Costa Rica taking on Belize in the night cap.
Rimando would love the opportunity to represent his country in either match, and potentially making a lasting impression on coach Jurgen Klinsmann as he looks ahead to 2014. Rimando, 33, knows the 2014 World Cup is realistically his last chance.
“I think I’ve been playing pretty well the last couple years. Goalkeeper is all about consistency and being a difference maker sometimes. I’m focused, and I want to have a great year, but not only for the U.S. team but for Real. If I do well with Real, the opportunities will come with the U.S.,” said Rimando.
Through two games this season with Real Salt Lake, Rimando played very well, conceding only one goal.
With a recent back injury to U.S. first-choice keeper Tim Howard, Rimando is in the running for playing time in World Cup qualifying matches on March 22 vs. Costa Rica and then March 26 at Mexico. The Costa Rica match will be played in Commerce City, Colo.
Rimando admits the potential to play has crossed his mind, “but the ultimate goal is to qualify. Whoever Jurgen puts in there, he’s going to put the best guys out there, and I’d love to be a part of it.”
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