Nick Rimando - Real Salt Lake - Holding ball
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Armchair Analyst: The Wall of the Wasatch makes a difference for Real Salt Lake

Andre-Pierre Gignac, meet Nick Rimando:

That happened last week in RSL's eventual 2-0 loss at Tigres in the CONCACAF Champions League. I've done a little bit of math, and by my calculations it's the millionth PK save across all competitions in Rimando's storied career.

For slightly more accurate numbers, we turn to Paul Carr:

Rimando is a savant at saving penalties, one of the best I've ever seen. He's quicker and more athletic than most 'keepers, and his size makes him damn near impossible to beat down low. He also, because of his agility, can wait on a shooter's tell longer than the typical 'keeper does, reading the situation and then choosing the correct side more often than not.

That ability can change games for the Claret-and-Cobalt, as can Rimando's ability to pull off spectacular saves from the run of play. But what really, really makes a difference is his comfort with the ball on his foot and ability to pick early, accurate distribution. In a lot of ways he acts as an 11th field player for Jeff Cassar's team, and as the 4-3-3 becomes more ingrained, I'd expect them to start asking for more of this out of their veteran 'keeper:

That moment obviously came after Rimando had collected a cross, so it wasn't precisely a sweeper-keeper play. Nonetheless, you get the idea, right? And we've all seen Rimando come 35 yards (or more) off his line to beat an on-rushing attacker to a through ball, take a touch away from trouble and possession to one of his midfielders. That is not an infrequent occurrence.

And that, more than the PK saves, will be Rimando's legacy when he retires. The position has changed a lot over the last 25 years -- a change that started in Latin America, but has been turbocharged by The Manuel Neuer Show, airing weekly in Bavaria.

For young American and Canadian 'keepers growing up with MLS, they've had their own version of that player to pattern their games upon over the last 15 years. I'm looking forward to seeing how the next generation of young 'keepers builds upon that in the next 15.

Author's Note

This is the 12th in a daily series counting down to to the MLS regular season first kick on March 6. I'm using Paul Carr's tweets (with his blessing) to examine some of the bigger storylines to follow in the upcoming season.

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