Sandy • Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando stood in the center of the field, his two children behind him, the RSL owner in front of him, and a stadium of fans giving him a standing ovation as team captain Kyle Beckerman handed Rimando a glass trophy commemorating his 200th career win.
“To do it in front of those fans is special,” Rimando said, “just because they’ve had my back and supported me for so many years.”
Rimando logged his 200th career win Saturday as RSL beat one of his former clubs, D.C. United, 3-2 at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL improved to 4-5-1 and with 13 points moved back into the Western Conference’s top six.
“He’s an unbelievable competitor and a dear friend,” said D.C. United coach Ben Olsen, who played with Rimando in the early to mid-2000s. “So I’m very happy that he’s the guy breaking records. I’m not happy that every time I’m here there’s some record for him to break. It’s getting a little bit old, and I’ll tell him that later.”
For this milestone, RSL had a special moment planned for Rimando in the last minutes of the match, but nothing about the end of the game went to plan.
Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke was ready to replace Rimando with backup goalkeeper Connor Sparrow before the end of the match, and he coordinated with the RSL communications staff and the announcer to have Rimando’s 200th win announced when he did so. That way, Rimando could have a standing ovation.
Then in the 83rd minute, D.C. United captain Steve Birnbaum scored to cut RSL’s lead to one.
“It got a little hairy at the end, and I just couldn’t pull the trigger,” Petke said. “And it’s no disrespect to Connor. To throw Connor in a situation like that wouldn’t be fair to him. If it was still 3-1, I certainly would have done it.”
To add to the chaos, Rimando took a knock to the head in the final seconds of the match and, after the final whistle blew, trainers had to come out and check him out.
“To be a part of it with him,” Beckerman said, “all the hard work that he’s put in, he really deserves it. And he’s the best, you know? Every time he plays he’s breaking another record.”
D.C. United took a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute before the game changed midway through the first half.
D.C. opened the scoring on Rimando’s milestone night, but the complexion of the game changed dramatically over the span of five minutes.
In the 21st minute, RSL’s Joao Plata received a pass on the wing, and crossed the ball into the penalty box as forward Corey Baird dived forward to head the ball off the fingertips of D.C. goalkeeper Steve Clark and into the goal.
One minute later, referee Rubiel Vazquez issued Joseph Mora a yellow card for knocking down Jefferson Savarino from behind. Then he went to video review, which showed Mora stepping on the back on Savarino’s leg — and Vazquez showed Mora a red card, leaving RSL with an 11-on-10 advantage the rest of the game.
RSL used the advantage to grab a 2-1 lead almost immediately. RSL defender Brooks Lennon advanced into the penalty box and gathered a pass from Savarino, then dropped it off for midfielder Albert Rusnák to one-time into the back of the net in the 26th minute.
Savarino added another goal in the 56th minute after Rusnák set him up for a one-on-one with Clark on a perfectly placed pass. D.C. United captain Steve Birnbaum scored in the 83rd minute to cut RSL’s lead to 3-2.