Nick Rimando was on the verge of 200 Major League Soccer wins for weeks.
Two weeks ago, Real Salt Lake dropped its match with the Vancouver Whitecaps. One week ago, the team fell short against Orlando City SC after jumping out to an early lead.
This weekend, for a split moment, it almost seemed as if it would take another seven days for Rimando to get to 200 after D.C. United got the go-ahead goal in the 10th minute.
However, Rimando’s teammates stepped up their game and beat D.C. 3-2 so the team could earn three points and so Rimando could finally reach his 200th win. And in a way, RSL losing two games on the road first, though not ideal, made Saturday’s night win all the more memorable because Rimando got that elusive win in front of family and fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, a place he’s called home since 2007.
Longtime teammate Kyle Beckerman reflected on Rimando’s accomplishment as he handed the goalkeeper a trophy commemorating the milestone.
“It was great to be a part of it with him and all the hard work he puts in, he’s the best,” Beckerman said. “Every time he plays he’s breaking another record, and it’s really cool to be a part of.”
Rimando’s son and daughter accompanied him during postgame celebrations and even went to his postgame press conference as they looked up at their father in awe.
Oct 23, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (18) clears the ball against the Seattle Sounders FC during the second half at CenturyLink Field. Seattle won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Rimando’s wins come from playing with the Miami Fusion, D.C. United and, of course, Real Salt Lake during his 19-year career. In early August, 2016, Rimando passed former LA Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman for the goalkeeper with the most all-time MLS wins as. Hartman recorded 180 wins in 17 seasons. And wins isn’t the only record Rimando has to his name. In August, 2014, Rimando broke Hartman’s record for most career shutouts in the MLS and he’s currently sitting at 138 shutouts.
Setting and breaking records nothing new for Rimando, and though he takes pride in his personal achievements, he would much rather focus on the support system that helped him achieve those milestones.
“The longevity of my play, the consistency of my play, the trust I get from my teammates and the coaches, I take a lot of pride in that, so to play this many years and to get to 200 is special,” Rimando said.
And funny enough, a couple of his milestones — the 200th MLS win and dethroning Hartman for career shutouts — came at the expense of D.C. United.
“When they come in town, there’s something to achieve,” Rimando jokingly said.
Ben Olsen, D.C. United’s head coach, isn’t happy Rimando keeps breaking records against his team, but he did applaud him for all the time and work he’s dedicated to the league.
“He’s stayed healthy, and that’s a huge component of playing as well as he has,” Olsen said. “He’s taken care of his body, and it helps he’s a goalkeeper, they end up playing a little bit longer. But he’s an unbelievable competitor and a dear friend, so I’m very happy that he’s the guy breaking records.”
Teammates laughed as they said Rimando should go for 300 wins. It’s hard for them to imagine the organization without him. RSL will lose part of its long-time identity once Rimando finally does hang up his cleats.
“It’s a special night for Nick for sure, not just for Nick but for all of us in the locker room, the players, the organization,” Petke said. “Nick represents this organization along with guys like Kyle, Toney Beltran, and any time he can be recognized like this is phenomenal.”
For now though, his fans, his teammates, his coaches and, most importantly, his family are all enjoying what a special night it was Saturday.
“We’ve had a lot of big games and special moments, played a lot of years here and to do it front of those fans is special because they’ve had my back and have supported me for so many years,” Rimando said. “I’m lucky to play here in front of those fans and to do it in front of them on this special night is something I’ll remember for a long time.”