While he was away with the US soccer team, goalkeeper Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake brought his club side a little notoriety Monday, when he was chosen for the MLS All-Stars First XI. Which in a way is a good thing, because the run of form displayed by RSL at times could be described as non existent.
Other than Rimando, fans voted zero total RSL players into the league’s biggest game later this month. Not even US soccer team midfielder and fellow RSL teammate Kyle Beckerman made it into the First 11, leading many to believe that since Pablo Mastroeni–perpetual RSL hater himself–is coaching the All-Stars and picking the rest of the team there isn’t a chance in Hades that Beckerman will be selected.
Which brings us back to Rimando, who honestly hasn’t had the best season in a Real Salt Lake uniform. His 4-5-7 record is overshadowed by the fact that he’s been dealing with a back line that changes with every match.
Despite having a patchwork defense though, Rimando has still somehow posted six shutouts and allowed just 17 goals in 16 games. If you’re counting at home and you have your calculator at the ready, that’s just a shade over one goal per game–something not lost on his bosses nor on the fans who voted him in for the fifth time in his career.
“We are extremely proud of Nick and what he has accomplished for club and country,” Real Salt Lake Technical Director Craig Waibel said. “This honor is a great reward for his efforts and we are excited to have him represent the club at the All-Star Game.”
Suffice it to say that other than Beckerman the dreadlocked wonder, the rest of the All-Stars reads like a who’s who of the US soccer team. It also reads of designated players everybody knows, like Kaka and David Villa–but not Sebastian Giovinco of Toronto FC, who arguably deserves to go over either of the two afore-mentioned DP’s and possibly any other player the fans didn’t pick.
The All-Stars opponent just happens to be English Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur, a team that Rimando certainly won’t take lightly going into the match at Denver’s Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“They’ve been one of the best teams in England for a while now and although they’ll be in their preseason the players are going to want to impress their manager and get something out of this game,” Rimando said. “They have some very dangerous and special players that we’ll have to circle on the board and beware of at all times. I expect a very aggressive-minded team.”
As in, being just good against Tottenham is not applicable for the All-Stars here. Simply put, the fans expect the MLS best to win with this lineup. As for RSL, or Rimando’s club side, well, it has struggled to win consistently–something to which its fans are clearly not accustomed.
Beckerman hasn’t scored this season for RSL and has contributed two assists and six yellow cards–up from four last year–in his withdrawn role in midfield in 16 games. And so he too is one of many RSL players suffering from a lack of production from a statistical standpoint.
Like the 4-4-2 diamond that is now but a faded memory in the collective psyches of those who wear the claret and cobalt religiously–and the occasional Sunday game on TV that forces good Mormons out of their pews and into Rio Tinto Stadium–the 4-3-3 formation has been something that Rimando, Beckerman and their fans have also had to get used to, you know, like these games on the Lord’s Day.
Mormon doctrine forbids physical activity on Sundays, and so like other things in life, other things must be tolerated during a growth phase. Not that Rimando or Beckerman are Mormons or whatnot; it’s just that the team appears to be going through some growing pains when its two best players are in the nexus of their playing careers and don’t have many good years left to make All-Star teams.