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Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando a star on and off the field

Rimando has made most of chance with RSL.

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The trade that sent Jay Nolly to D.C. brought back Rimando and Freddy Adu, who then-RSL coach John Ellinger had mentored with the U.S. Under-17 team. Rimando and his salary were promptly traded to the New York Red Bulls.

"I don’t think he ever stepped a foot on Utah soil before he got traded away," Kreis said.

At a glance

By the numbers

2015 » RSL and Nick Rimando agreed to a deal last month, extending the 33-year-old goalie through the end of the 2015, the team confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune on Friday.

100 » Rimando recorded his 100th career shutout in the first game of the season, a 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes. He trails only Kevin Hartmann’s 112 shutouts for the all-time MLS lead.

15 » Rimando’s 15 saves are the fifth most in Major League Soccer through six games. Rimando has 1,155 career saves, third most in league history.

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It wasn’t until RSL goalkeeper Scott Garlick abruptly retired shortly before the start of the season that RSL called the Red Bulls back. The word from Rimando’s agent came shortly after a call from his wife saying she had just taken a job as a pharmaceutical rep in New York.

"My wife told me she got the job and I told her we were moving back to Salt Lake City," he said.

Turnaround » Rimando and RSL struggled in that first season, but as other pieces were added around him, "the culture changed."

Rimando’s revitalization didn’t surprise RSL brass or his teammates.

"If you take a look at this league, it’s changed a lot over the last four or five years," Grabavoy said. "There are a lot of players who found themselves as outcasts for whatever reason — salary cap casualties or whatever. But there have been a lot of opportunities for guys like him to remake things in a different home."

And while the trophy case in D.C., home of one of Major League Soccer’s most storied franchises, was full, Rimando said, Salt Lake provided a chance to write history.

"I was already going into a tradition there," he said. "Coming here, I wanted to start a tradition."

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He’s helped do that both on and off the field.

Rimando’s crunch-time performances during the 2009 playoffs, helped RSL win the MLS Cup in 2009. And after being called up to the U.S. men’s national team last month, Rimando has his sights set on making a World Cup roster.

"This is, I think, my last go-around," he said, "and I’m taking every camp, every step as an honor. It’s something I take dearly to heart to represent your country and be involved, hopefully, with a World Cup. If it’s playing, on the bench, I want to be involved, and I’m doing all I can to be there."

His 15,500-plus Twitter followers pale in comparison to many professional athletes, but Rimando’s charm, the accessibility of MLS compared to other pro leagues, and a market that hasn’t been over-saturated with professional sports has helped turn Rimando into a recognizable name.

"Some of the fans were asking when we were going to do a Rimando beer long before we even sat down and discussed it," said Michael Malachowski, sales manager for Epic Brewing in Salt Lake City. Epic’s Unsacred Brewing began selling Rimando’s Wit, a version of the goalie’s favorite beer, earlier this year.

"He’s got a huge following and deservedly so," Grabavoy said. "When he wants to kick back and have a few this summer, he can look at himself on the bottle."

Those cold ones will come after a job well done.


Twitter: @aaronfalk

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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