Everybody wins: Real Salt Lake, Nick Rimando delighted with goalkeeper rotation for USMNT
SANDY, Utah – When Jurgen Klinsmann announced his roster for the US national team's upcoming friendlies and World Cup qualifiers, one of the biggest talking points was his decision to include six goalkeepers.
To nobody's surprise, English Premier League veterans Tim Howard and Brad Guzan were invited, and it wasn't a stretch to see Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando get the nod as well, considering his frequent stints as the USMNT's No. 3 'keeper over the past few years.
Where it gets a little unorthodox is the three other MLS keepers on the roster – the Chicago Fire's Sean Johnson, D.C. United's Bill Hamid and the Houston Dynamo's Tally Hall. This was done, according to Klinsmann, to ensure that the MLS contingent of goalkeepers got as much time as possible with their clubs, who will still be in action as the USMNT works its way through a five-game stretch.
For RSL, the move couldn't have gone down much better.
With the Claret-and-Cobalt about to begin a three-game league homestand running May 25-June 8, plus another game in the US Open Cup in that time, the team is pleasantly surprised to have its first-choice goalkeeper along, especially considering Rimando could miss most of July if he plays in the Gold Cup, a likely possibility at this point.
"I think it's great that I can stay here," said Rimando. "I had a conversation with Jurgen and he asked what I felt, and also [there is] a big possibility of going in for all of July, so he wanted to be fair to RSL and also fair to me.
"We came up with the conclusion of not going for the Germany game and the Belgium game and I almost was going to go in for Jamaica, but there is one last game we will have in the [RSL] homestand, and [RSL head coach] Jason [Kreis] talked him into letting me stay."
Should he stay through RSL's entire homestand, he will miss the USMNT's two friendlies and first World Cup qualifier, at Jamaica on June 7, but should be available for the US in home World Cup qualifiers against Panama (June 11) and Honduras (June 18), the latter of which will be played at RSL's Rio Tinto Stadium.
Kreis, for his part, is just happy to have the man who's been so reliable for RSL since joining the team in 2007.
"It was [Klinsmann's] decision. There was no real discussion or argument on our parts," said Kreis. "He called me and informed me of why he was doing what he was doing, and I believe he communicated with Nick the same thing. I think it is great that we have a national team coach that is willing and able to call club coaches and ask for input when he wants it, but also just communicate the reasons why things are happening."
Klinsmann is aware of the impact missing that much time away can have on a club team and decided if he could help, he would.
“We are in a great position with our goalies,” said Klinsmann in a Q&A with ussoccer.com after the roster was announced. “It’s exciting that we can rotate them a bit in these upcoming couple of weeks because we don’t want the MLS goalies to miss too many of their games.”
Besides simply meeting Klinsmann's desire to rotate 'keepers, Rimando also knows that the reason he has continually been in consideration for the national team is his continued strong showings for the club.
"I think that consideration comes from the success here at Real Salt Lake. I just need to keep chipping away and focusing on my play here, and hopefully Jurgen and the coaching staff continues to see what I can bring to the team.
"I think he takes everything into account to see there is a big opportunity in July as well," said Rimando. "Friendlies, maybe I don't play at all in those games and even the qualifiers, so it is a smart move to let me keep game fit and stay sharp and stay with my club. He takes that into consideration and I'm sure Jason is thanking him for that."