MLS Legends: Nick Rimando

Aug 15, 2015; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (18) warms up prior to facing the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 15, 2015; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (18) warms up prior to facing the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The pint sized shot stopper is approaching MLS history, and deservedly so.

When you are 5ft 9in and you tell someone you are a soccer player, they accept it. When you tell them you are a goalkeeper, and one of the best, serious doubts creep into their mind.

Over the years, soccer has seen the net taken over by the six foot plus crowd. Being taller gives the understandable advantage on high balls and the extra length allows for one to reach more shots. Even though the taller keepers are in vogue, it does not mean the smaller keepers do not still exist, or that they cannot excel.

Nick Rimando is the exception to the rule. He is the perfect example as to why size is not a determining factor. Rimando has made a career of proving doubters wrong, a career that is showing no signs of stopping as he is on the verge of writing his own chapter in the MLS record books.

Rimando had an excellent college career at UCLA where he won the college cup as a freshman. He signed a Project-40 contract with MLS after his sophomore year, and was drafted 35th overall by the Miami Fusion in 2000.

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Arriving in Miami, the expectation was for him to be an understudy to Jeff Cassar. Rimando had other ideas as he wrestled the starting job away and led Miami to the supporter’s shield his second season in MLS.

When the Miami Fusion folded, Rimando was taken third overall in the allocation draft by DC United. In DC, Rimando was reunited with his Miami coach Roy Hudson. In 2004, splitting time with Troy Perkins, Rimando helped DC to their fourth (and his first) MLS Cup.

He regained the starting role in 2005, only to lose it to Perkins in 2006. Rimando was traded to Real Salt Lake before the 2007 season. In a weird twist, he was then traded to the New York Red Bulls, but reacquired by RSL two weeks later when Scott Garlick retired.

In Salt Lake City, Rimando has found a permanent home. He has been the undisputed number one there for the last decade. In 2009 he led them to capturing the MLS Cup, earning MLS Cup MVP honors.

He is known as one of the best (if not the best) penalty kick stoppers in the game. This is a true testament to his preparation and abilities.

Approaching his 37th birthday this month, Rimando shows no signs of slowing down. This season will see his longstanding excellence rewarded as he looks to eclipse a few marks in the MLS record books.

Nick already holds the MLS record for career shutouts with 125 (all stats per He is currently sitting 3 wins away from passing Kevin Hartman (180) for most wins. He is also closing in on Hartman’s records for most games played (416) and most games started (411) with 405 starts and games played in his career. Rimando also sports an impressive career goals against average of 1.19.

His MLS success opened the door for him to make 21 appearances for the US national team. Rimando led the US team to their Gold Cup title in 2013, starting 5 of the 6 games played.

Watching Rimando propel his stocky frame through the air to parry away a vicious drive is a scene that has played out hundreds of times over the last 20 years. It never ceases to amaze this writer to see him get his fingertips to a ball that seemed so far away. Rimando has been a pleasure to watch for his technique, his efforts and for the passion he brings to the game.

That passion carries over to his life outside of the game. He can be found on twitter and facebook as well as other various social media outlets posting away. Whether it is in regards to music, following his RSL teammates on international duty, or supporting a charitable cause, Rimando is a player who gives fans a view of his life.

When he finally decides to call it a career, Nick Rimando will have a chapter of his own in the MLS record books. He should go down as the goalkeeper all others in MLS will be compared to.

Next: MLS Legends: DC United’s Jaime Moreno

It is one thing to be a top player for a span of time, it is another to have the longevity to play 17 seasons professionally. It takes it to a whole other level when a player is able to perform at such a high mark for the entirety of those 17 seasons or more. Achieving that is called legendary, and that is exactly what Nick Rimando is.