Nick Rimando's play in goal has brought Real Salt Lake its share of victories over the years. But on Saturday night, it was the goalkeeper's offensive vision that helped secure the win.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Rimando took a quick goal kick, blasting a pass deep into the attacking half of the field. Forward Joao Plata tracked it down and delivered a cross that led to RSL's first goal of the night.
"It feels good to get into the attack a little bit," Rimando said after the 2-0 home win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. "You hang back there in the defense and you only think about that. But you want to help out any way you can and today I was fortunate to play a good ball to Plata."
The veteran goalie said he takes great pride in his abilities with his feet.
"He can often times start counterattacks for us and make good tactical decisions with the ball when he has it," coach Jason Kreis said. "He can be a real steadying influence for us because we always feel like we have an extra man to pass back to. Kudos to him, and what a great, great pass."
If Saturday's game had ended at halftime, Kreis wouldn't have graded his starting forwards' performances very highly.
Plata "was pretty darn rusty, gave away a lot of balls," the coach said. "We had a chat at halftime about how important it was to us that our forwards wouldn't give it away so quickly. Him and Devon [Sandoval] both started pretty darn rough in the match, but got better as the game wore on."
Plata produced a pair of second-half assists, bringing his season total to a league-high four.
"Praise be to God," the Ecuadorian said through a translator Saturday. "I'm part of this team now, and every day I'm getting better with the schemes. There's better teamwork every day and we're doing well."
Midfielder Luis Gil grimaced after scoring his second goal of the year.
In diving in for the game-winning header, Gil's right ankle was clipped by Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon. It's the same ankle Gil injured during a previous U.S. Under-20 call-up. And shortly after scoring, he came out of the match.
"I try to play it smart, coming off," he said. "I don't want to make it worse. We've got a big road trip ahead of us, so I've just got to take care of it."