SEATTLE – At some point there will be a statue, or a plaque, or a bronzed pair of goalkeeper’s gloves somewhere in Rio Tinto Stadium to commemorate the career of Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando.
And when that day comes, one of the first games they’ll mention will be Friday night’s 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals at CenturyLink Field.
Rimando produced six saves. All of them were of the spectacular variety, and two were of the “I think he just defied the laws of physics” variety.
He came off his line to pounce on through balls. He battled among the trees to punch out crosses. And he did it for the game’s final 20+ minutes while sporting a gash above his right eye that would take three stitches to close, and a broken nose that'll need to be re-set.
“It would have to go down as one of the single best performances by any player that’s ever worn an RSL jersey,” head coach Jason Kreis summed up afterward.
Kreis may have been understating it. Rimando was just that good.
“The saves he made tonight…” central defender Nat Borchers said, before trailing off and taking a moment to start back up again. “We’ve seen them all before, but I think everybody else kind of caught their breath.”
For his part, Rimando said that it was all in a day’s work, preferring to deflect attention to the entire team. It’s a part of the ethos that has been front and center during this current Claret-and-Cobalt era – “The Team is the Star,” after all.
But some stars burn brighter than others. Friday night, Rimando was brightest.
“Just to come here and get the shutout,” Rimando said when asked if he had a favorite moment of the night. “You always want to go in and do your job, and the job was done tonight. Not just by me, but by my teammates as well.”
And that would be business as usual for this time of year, to hear him tell it. It’s a veteran team that may very well be on their last go-round, and Rimando doesn’t want the ride to end.
“These are the playoffs,” he explained. “Big players step up in big games, and everybody stepped up tonight. It wasn’t just me. I did my part for sure, but so did everybody else. I’m not getting that zero without those guys.”