If Real Salt Lake manages to advance past Seattle Sounders FC, there will be one big reason for that – the first leg performance of goalkeeper Nick Rimando. As has been often mentioned this week, Rimando had five saves – most of them of the extraordinary variety – en route to a scoreless draw in Seattle. And he did that while enduring a swollen eye and a broken nose.
The performance was one of the better goalkeeper performances at least in recent memory, and although awe-inspiring, not exactly a surprise to those familiar with Rimando’s skills. And one observer with a birds-eye view of the action was quite complimentary of the performance.
“Yeah, I don’t like it when goalkeepers get hot against us,” explained Sounders Coach, Sigi Schmid. “I know Nicky (Rimando) fairly well and he’s a good goalkeeper. He’s courageous and his reactions are good. The one save he made against Sammy (Ochoa), he actually parries the ball off the crossbar and over the goal. If he doesn’t get quite a hand on it, three inches lower, it hits the bottom of the crossbar and goes in. He played well, he had a good performance.”
Rimando was a star in the late-90’s for the UCLA Bruins, and was part of his team’s national championship run in 1997. Although he was a reserve goalkeeper to Matt Reis as an underclassman that season, he saw plenty of action that year – playing in seven matches, and starting five. He surrendered just one goal that year, and had a 450 minute shut-out streak that season en route to an honorable mention for All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honor.
So how does Schmid tie-in to all of that? Well, he was the coach of that Bruins team, having guided that team for Rimando’s entire career at UCLA. So he’s very familiar with the type of performance of which Rimando is capable. And if RSL is to advance from this series, it will likely be a result of Rimando putting in another performance that his former coach is all too familiar with.