SANDY — Jeff Attinella will make his second start of the season this weekend as Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando has officially been ruled out by coach Jeff Cassar.
Starting in place of the injured Rimando, the second-year Attinella made nine saves, including several of the acrobatic variety, in last weekend’s scoreless draw at Kansas City, and he’ll get another opportunity at Philadelphia this Saturday.
“When you’re in my position, anytime you get a chance to help the team and contribute you want to do it in a positive manner. The big takeaway from the weekend is I was happy I played a part in getting a big point and that could be a big point for us down the season,” said Attinella.
“It’s Philly this week. It’s time to move on, and forget about last game 'cause there’s another 90 minutes on Saturday.”
Attinella knew he’d eventually get playing time with Rimando a likely inclusion with the U.S. national team at the World Cup this summer, but those opportunities are coming a bit earlier than expected.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing either.
“It’s good to get a game out of the way. If I had gone until May without playing one, it would’ve been a little bit tougher to step in, but confidence-wise it’s good,” said Attinella.
RSL’s new coach is a former goalkeeper himself, and he was very impressed by Attinella’s poise last week in Kansas City in a match that obviously had massive hype surrounding it.
“It’s not easy when you haven’t had any reserve games and things like that to prepare him, so I was just so proud of him, just that he was able to step up when he had to. And listen, it’s going to have to be that way a lot this year with Nicky going to the World Cup,” said Cassar.
Cassar added that Attinella’s performance is great for the team’s morale this week, but also later this year.
National team coach Jurgen Klinsmann is expected to call Rimando and Kyle Beckerman into the U.S. World Cup camp after Salt Lake's match at Houston on Sunday, May 11, after which Attinella will take over RSL's No. 1 goalkeeping duties.
If he remains healthy himself, Attinella would get the starting nod in five league games until MLS takes a two-week break during World Cup group play from June 12-26. The five-game stretch includes home games against Colorado, Dallas and Portland, and then road games at Seattle and Columbus.
If the United States advances out of a group to extend its stay in Brazil a bit longer, Attinella would get the nod again at Chivas USA on June 28.
Attinella said he’s confident and excited about the opportunity for more playing time, both in Philadelphia and during the World Cup.
“I’m a confident guy, so I feel every time we step up out on the field in training I get a chance to go against one of the best teams, if not the best team, in the league everyday,” he said.