I want to congratulate Nick Rimando. There's nobody better to have that award. He's a dear friend and I'm extremely excited for him. —D.C. United coach Ben Olsen
SANDY — Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando etched his name in MLS lore Saturday night with his league-record 113th career shutout, and it’s only fair to give Freddy Adu some of the credit.
The former teenage phenom, who’s seemingly played in every league in the world, is the reason Rimando came to Real Salt Lake in the first place. At the time Rimando was just a footnote in the trade that excited the Utah fan base, but that footnote has evolved into an inevitable statue outside Rio Tinto Stadium.
He is the club’s longest-tenured player, and with Rimando in goal great things have happened game after game and season after season for RSL. By the time he retires, whenever that is, he’ll own every significant goalkeeping record in league history.
Somewhere in the nation’s capital, D.C. United executives must still be kicking themselves.
After the 2006 season D.C. United was essentially forced to pick between Nick Rimando and Troy Perkins. Even though Rimando helped win an MLS Cup for the club, he was injured most of the 2006 season, while Perkins was named an MLS Best XI goalkeeper that year.
While it seemed like a wise decision at the time, it’s certainly proved to be the wrong choice. Perkins moved to Norway after the 2007 season, playing three years for Valerenga. He returned to MLS in 2010 and has played for three different teams — currently with last-place Montreal.
Rimando, meanwhile, has started 216 matches for RSL, recording 77 shutouts. D.C. United has used 11 different 'keepers during that stretch, and Rimando is still the D.C.'s shutout record-holder with 29.
It’s only fitting that Rimando set the record against the team he spent five years with from 2002 to 2006, but realistically, the opponent didn’t matter to him.
Having a close friend in town made it that much more special.
Rimando was close friends with current D.C. United coach Ben Olsen during his time back East, with the two winning a championship together in 2004.
The two enjoyed breakfast together Saturday morning before their teams clashed at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“As much as he didn’t want me to get that shutout, I know he’s proud of me. It shows that he is a class guy that losing the way he did, that he still came over and congratulated me,” said Rimando. “Obviously getting the win is very important. D.C. is a team that I have a lot of respect for and have a lot of memories there. D.C. or any other team in the league, as long as I got the record.”
In his postgame press conference, Olsen went out of his way to mention Rimando’s record.
“I want to congratulate Nick Rimando. There's nobody better to have that award. He's a dear friend and I'm extremely excited for him,” said Olsen.
RSL coach Jeff Cassar, who’s been behind the scenes for all but one of Rimando’s shutouts in Utah, doesn’t see any end in sight for the Wall of the Wasatch.
“He’s taking care of his body, and as long as he’s staying healthy and fit, I’m sure there’s a lot more performances like tonight. He’s been working hard with Daryl Shore, our goalkeeper coach, and they’re starting to build a really nice relationship,” said Cassar. “Our back line is very good right now. Our whole team is playing good team defense, so I expect more shutouts. I expect more good performances from the team.”
Rimando himself is thrilled for what lies ahead with Real Salt Lake, and regardless of the circumstances that brought him here it’s clearly been a perfect partnership.
“I think I’m in good form right now. I’m happy, I’m fit, I feel like I can help any team. Especially playing with Real Salt Lake, it comes naturally being on that field. I feel good and I don’t see myself slowing up anytime soon,” said Rimando.
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer.