Wednesday, August 10, 2016
(by James Edwards deseretnews.com 8-6-16)
In stoppage time on Saturday night, with Real Salt Lake’s 3-1 victory already well in hand, Nick Rimando reminded everyone why he’s the best in MLS history — he made two point-blank double saves on Nick LaBrocca.
Neither mattered in the big picture of the win, but they were the exclamation point on his record-breaking night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
A week after tying Kevin Hartman for the most wins in MLS history, Rimando surpassed him in front of his home fans with his 181st career victory in goal. Of those wins, 115 have been in an RSL uniform, the most for a keeper at a single team.
“It’s all to myself now. It feels real good now. Obviously I share it with a lot of teammates over the past years and lots of fans and my family, but to put myself on the sheet at No. 1 feels great,” said Rimando.
Rimando is now the MLS all-time record holder in four categories — shutouts, minutes, games started and now wins. In terms of active goalkeepers, Rimando has 120 more wins than second place on the list, Seattle’s Stefen Frei (61).
“It’s such a special night, such an amazing achievement from an amazing goalkeeper and an amazing man, and to do it in front of our fans — and for him to do it here at home in front of his fans and family — is massive,” said RSL coach Jeff Cassar.
Rimando is two games behind the retired Kevin Hartman for the all-time record in games played and roughly 50 saves behind him for the all-time lead.
He didn’t get the shutout he would’ve preferred on Saturday against Chicago, but he made a couple keys saves as Real Salt Lake moved from fifth to third in the Western Conference standings. RSL could easily drift back to fifth on Sunday though with Los Angeles and Kansas City both in action.
An unlikely source got RSL going against Chicago. Just 15 minutes in, Olmes Garcia buried a shot from outside the box as he caught Fire keeper Matt Lampson leaning the wrong way.
"That was the right choice by him in that situation, it wrong footed the goalkeeper. It doesn’t take a blast into the back of the net, it takes a smart choice, a good placement, and I couldn’t be more happy that he chose that type of shot from there and recognizing what needed to be done,” said Cassar.
Garcia was making his third straight start because of the injury to Yura Movsisyan, and he made the most of his rare extended minutes with his first MLS goal since June of last season. Movsisyan was on the bench as an available sub, but he wasn’t called upon because of the early goals.
Garcia’s goal was just the second time this season RSL found the back of the net in the opening 15 minutes of a match. Against a Chicago team on a historic MLS road winless streak of 35 games dating back to July of 2014, it was an important early goal to set the tone.
The scoring-early theme continued in the 27th minute when Javier Morales buried a penalty kick to double RSL’s advantage. Juan Manuel Martinez earned the penalty when he was leveled by the shoulder of Chicago defender Eric Gehrig just after heading the ball.
The goals were the two quickest of the season for RSL, and helped it avoid the late-game desperation that had been the theme in past road games.
Chicago did pull a goal back in the 58th minute when Arturo Alvarez latched onto the end of a big looping cross from LaBrocca, burying it with a one-time finish at the far post.
Morales only needed six minutes to extinguish any hope of a Chicago comeback. He uncorked a shot off the left post in the 64th minute after great ball movement around the edge of the penalty area, pushing RSL in front 3-1. He’s now scored three goals in the past three games.
“He’s been a special player for this team for a while. A lot of people don’t see what he does off the camera and what he does for this club in the locker room and outside,” said Rimando. “To have a performance like that today doesn’t surprise me one bit.”