SANDY, Utah – Being a backup to one of the most consistent goalkeepers in MLS is often a thankless task, so for sixth-year Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Kyle Reynish having starter Nick Rimando away on US national team has meant one thing: opportunity.
The 28-year-old has started both of RSL's games since Rimando's call-up: a 3-2 win over FC Dallas on May 26 and a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Stars in the US Open Cup.
"It's been nice," said Reynish of the opportunity to play. "I always look forward to stepping out on the field, and with Nick away, I've had the chance."
Reynish has never lost an MLS game in which he started, posting an impressive two wins and four draws. In his last two games, however, he has admittedly not played his best soccer.
"In the Dallas game, they got the one goal when I was just a little slow in my reaction. The ball got on me a little faster than I expected and glanced off my arm and into the net," he said. "And then the Minnesota game, I made a mistake on the first goal and things just kind of didn't go our way after that."
Even with a pair of performances that weren't up to his high standards, RSL head coach Jason Kreis still believes in the UC Santa Barbara product.
"We still feel Kyle is very capable back there," said Kreis. "He had a couple of games where he made some mistakes, but he needs to realize that is the nature of the position. The great goalkeepers have a very short memory – they can quickly put things behind them and not let it affect their play.
"Kyle made a mistake against Minnesota, and everyone saw it. I think he may have let the one error lead to others. We have always had faith in him, and I am sure he can grow from this."
Aside from the last two games, starting has been a rare occurrence for Reynish. So when his number is called, how does he come in and perform at a high level?
"I try and prepare every day like I am going to play," he said. "It all starts here at training. I have had a great chance to learn from terrific coaches. Jeff Cassar and Dan [Barlow] have been great, and watching and learning from Nick has really helped."
Any RSL goalkeeper is bound to come under tough scrutiny – besides goalkeeper coach Cassar, who spent 11 seasons minding the nets in MLS, general manager Garth Lagerwey was also a 'keeper in the league for five seasons.
"I think one of the things I take pride in is the development of Kyle Reynish," said Lagerwey. "To see how far he has come since we first drafted him. As a former keeper, I love to see the type of player he has become."
So while RSL has certainly missed their regular starting goalkeeper, Reynish and the rest of the Salt Lake team have been busy making the best of the situation.
"I am only trying to get better everyday," Reynish said. "We are all out putting out our best effort and trying to take advantage of opportunities. I feel as long as I am getting better every day I step out here, the rest will take care of itself."