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His first cap came in November 2002 against El Salvador, back when he was 22. But it took until his mid-30s to really get noticed. And the guy who noticed him was Jurgen Klinsmann, hired as U.S. national team boss in 2011.
For Rimando, Klinsmann’s elevation to the top post changed everything.
Rimando’s long road to Brazil
Age » 34
Position » Goalkeeper
Hometown » Claremont, Calif.
Pro career » Real Salt Lake (2007-present), D.C. United (2002-2006), Miami Fusion (2000-2001). Has 111 career regular-season MLS shutouts, sits one shutout away from tying all-time record (112, Kevin Hartman). Has 1,253 saves and has logged over 32,000 minutes in his 15-year MLS career.
International career » Named to official 23-man U.S. roster for 2014 World Cup in Brazil on May 22. Collected 10-0-1 record in 11 caps with USMNT first team, his 10 wins are tied for fifth on the all-time goalkeeper victories list (Brad Guzan), went 6-0-0 during 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, including two shutouts. Made senior international debut on Nov. 17, 2002, combining with Tim Howard for 2-0 shutout win over El Salvador.
Transactions » Acquired in trade along with Freddy Adu from D.C. United for goalkeeper Jay Nolly on Dec. 11, 2006. Traded to New York Red Bulls on Feb. 9, 2007, for future considerations before being reacquired by RSL on Feb. 23, 2007, for a 2008 MLS SuperDraft pick.
Games played » Started 244 matches across all competitions for RSL, logging 21,825 minutes with the club.
Slugger Puig gives Rimando a shoutout
O RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando got a high-profile shoutout Friday night from Dodgers star Yasiel Puig, who posted a photo on Twitter of himself in a Rimando jersey while wishing the goalie and the Americans good luck. See the photos on Puig’s Twitter feed. > bit.ly/rimandopuig
Quickly becoming a favorite of the new coach because of his agility and professionalism, Rimando received multiple call-ups to the national team. And he made the most of his opportunity.
The RSL goalkeeper put on a clinic in a start against Panama in January 2012 and eventually helped lead the U.S. to a CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament title in 2013, going 6-0-0 and registering two shutouts. It was, as is the case for many international players, simply a case of Rimando bringing his RSL form to the national team level. Without the brick-by-brick ascension of RSL, Klinsmann probably wouldn’t have noticed the undersized goalkeeper in Utah.
"I think I fit his role of what [Klinsmann] wants, on the field and off," Rimando said. "I’ve made it clear and he’s made it clear of my role, and I’m taking that in with every stride.
"The second part of that is we have a lot of good goalkeepers in this league and in this country and coming up. I’ve been in this league for a while now, there’s a lot of competition. Tons of competition. Goalkeepers go up and they go down, they go up and they go down, but with the consistency of my play and the consistency of Real Salt Lake Jurgen sees, when I go into camp he knows what he gets from me."
An organization man
Rimando’s role is to keep the back line, no matter who’s playing in front of him, organized and on the same page.
The transition from club team to national squad also brings intrigue. MLS stars typically see Rimando as the last line of defense in league play, but can lean upon him for his expertise on how to expose other goalkeepers with the national team.
"It’s an easy transition for me to go in and try to get these guys to score, or in training, get the best out of them," he said. "I want them to have the chance to score and do well."
Olsen said Rimando’s personality and attitude in the locker room are "infectious." The former U.S. men’s World Cup midfielder — who also married Rimando and wife Jacqui — says his close friend should play an integral part of keeping things loose ahead of the three monumental group-stage matches. After Ghana, the U.S. faces Portugal and then Germany.
"He has a real good feel, I think, for what the team needs," whether it’s "to be serious or for him to be loose," Olsen said. "He’s a prankster, a guy in the locker room organizing social events, cutting up someone’s tie, putting salt in someone’s underwear; he was always leading that charge. But when you knew it was time to go to work, he was there. He is vital to teams obviously on the field and in his ability as a goalkeeper, but his presence in the locker room is very special."
The opportunity Rimando thought was long gone will now play out over the course of the next few weeks. And he expects his group of friends to gather somewhere and watch, just like 2010. Only this time, the jersey number worn by everyone will probably be Rimando’s.
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