Sandy • Nick Rimando piled off the bus with his teammates, a steady stream of red and blue shirts, and made his way onto the familiar grass at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“The prodigal son returns. Sandy, Utah,” one of them yelled.
Tim Howard beamed, pleased with his commentary, as he walked side by side with his fellow United States goalkeeper.
“It’s the Nick Rimando show,” Howard teased one last time, before the Real Salt Lake star made his way over to speak with reporters before the United States’ first training session after arriving in Utah on Thursday.
Come Tuesday, when the U.S. hosts Honduras in a key World Cup qualifying match in Sandy, the focus will likely be on Howard, the country’s regular starter between the posts. Or maybe even on Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan, Howard’s primary backup.
Rimando last started for the U.S. in a 1-0 friendly win over Panama in January. But the goalie, who will turn 34 on Monday, is relishing the chance to wear his country’s colors.
“I’ve been in and out of the national team pool for a while, and to be a part of this group, probably my last run, I’m taking it step by step and game by game and taking everything in,” he said. “I love being with this team and the guys here. I think I fit in well. I’m just taking it one game at a time, one training at a time.”
Rimando has known Howard since the two were teenagers. “We have a really great relationship,” the RSL keeper said. “All the goalkeepers here do. That’s what makes it easy to jump into this team and train and play.”
And Rimando has said he is willing to be a role player, as he vies for a spot on the next World Cup roster.
The U.S. is coming off a road win in Jamaica and a 2-0 win over Panama in front of more than 40,000 fans in Seattle last week.
Rimando said he is excited to see a sellout crowd at Rio Tinto next week, as the U.S. looks to stay atop the six-country group.
“Our team is very confident right now in how we’ve been playing,” he said. “I’m just waiting to get out here and see the fans and be in my home stadium. It’s very exciting.”
Rimando will be close to his own bed in Salt Lake City, but he’ll be all business this week.
“I’ll stay at the hotel,” he said. “I’ll see family and friends for sure, but focus is on Tuesday. You never know what’s going to happen. You’ve always got to be ready.”
Honduras vs. USA
P Tuesday, 7 p.m.
TV • ESPN