SANDY — Nick Rimando might as well book his ticket to Brazil this summer.
Real Salt Lake is the only unbeaten club left in Major League Soccer — and it wouldn’t be possible without the heroics of Rimando Saturday night.
“He’s amazing,” said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman following a 1-0 victory over Portland. “I just think it’s normal now. He’s a national team goalkeeper and that’s the type of things those goalkeepers can do. He was a big part of us getting three points tonight.”
The shutout was the 111th of Rimando's career, just one shy of the all-time MLS record held by Kevin Hartman.
Portland manager Caleb Porter, who called Rimando the man of the match, joined the praises of the RSL 'keeper.
“At the end of the day, they win the game because of Nick Rimando,” said Porter. “They should give him a big bonus or make him a DP because they win that game because of him.”
Rimando was credited with three saves on the night, and was a surprise addition to the RSL starting lineup given the fact the 'keeper was listed as doubtful ahead of the match.
The so-called "Wall of the Wasatch," Rimando returned after missing two previous matches due to a lingering injury from international duty.
“Two weeks of taking care of my knee, I just felt good out there and felt fresh,” said Rimando. “But it feels good to contribute like that, even with a couple weeks off and to get three points in front of our fans.”
Rimando has been playing a humble role as the all-time shutout record approaches, echoing what he’s been telling folks for the past few months.
“I think it’s a really great accomplishment, but I think when it comes, it comes. I’m not banking on it coming next week or the following week,” said Rimando. “I’m just thinking about getting a win and keeping the game moving forward. If it comes, it comes, and when it comes I’m sure everybody will make a big deal about it.”
PLATA RETURNS: The spark may have been missing for a few games, but RSL coach Jeff Cassar rekindled the fire Saturday night when he opted to bring forward Joao Plata onto the pitch as a second-half substitute.
“I thought when he and Sebastian (Velasquez) came into the game, it brought a lot of energy. It brought a lot of energy to the stadium and a lot of energy on the field,” Cassar told reporters. “When he stepped on the field, he hadn’t missed a beat. I thought he was sharp tonight.”
Plata, who has two goals and a pair of assists for RSL this season, had been sidelined due to a hamstring injury sustained in the home opener.
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