SEATTLE – It didn’t come in a winning effort, but in the final MLS game of his illustrious 20-year career, Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando gave a stark reminder of why he will go down as the greatest goalkeeper in league history.
Defying the Seattle Sounders in RSL’s 2-0 Western Conference Semifinal defeat at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday, Rimando put on the type of clinic he’s been putting on his whole career, swatting away shot after shot in acrobatic fashion, singlehandedly keeping his team in the game.
The dam broke in the 64th minute off a Gustav Svensson headed corner kick, and Seattle got another in the 81st from Nicolas Lodeiro. But the final result doesn’t take away from the ridiculous put on by the legendary backstop in his MLS sendoff.
“I think it will all sink in tomorrow or the next week or so,” Rimando told reporters after the match. “I gave everything I had to this last game. That is all I could ask for. It has been special, you know? Who would have a thought a 5-[foot-]10 kid from the 909 would have got 20 years in this league? To be appreciated the way I have been appreciated in the league this year – I said it before but, that is why I wanted to announce it early. Win, lose or draw.
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“The guys gave it their all,” he added. “All we could have done was give it our all and I think that’s what we did. Unfortunately, we didn’t come on the right side of the result. I enjoyed it all, even today. I enjoyed it, even stepping off that field. It was so real to see even the Sounders fans appreciate me and clap for me. It’s full circle for me: Starting in LA and ended here. I am appreciative of what soccer has given me.”
As for what comes next, Rimando said his first focus will be on getting his mind and body right.
The 40-year-old revealed postgame that he’s been playing with a torn rotator cuff all season and that it flared up during Wednesday’s match. Mending himself physically and getting those lingering knocks healed up will be one of his top priorities.
“People thought I was kidding around when I said I have to get a couple surgeries to do after my career,” Rimando said. “It’s my knee, my shoulder. I am a banged-up old guy now. Get my body right, like I said, relax, have time with my family. Reflect on what this sport has given me. Just take it all in and you know I feel like it is my duty to give back and we will see where that goes.”
After that, Rimando said his hope is that he can stay involved in the game in some capacity. Spending time with his family is also at the forefront of his mind, as he looks ahead to life without the physical demands and travel-heavy lifestyle that come with being a professional athlete.
“Tomorrow, he said, “I am going to take my kids to school in the morning. We land at two o’clock in the morning. Wake up, make them breakfast. Check them into school and then kick my feet up.
“Have a couple whiskeys, maybe. Relax.”