3 takeaways from RSL’s playoff loss to Seattle

Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake players, including RSL's Albert Rusnak (11) and Sounders' Roman Torres, third from right, scuffle during the first half of an MLS Western Conference semifinal playoff soccer match Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Here are three takeaways from Real Salt Lake’s 2-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders.

1. Goodbye, Nick Rimando

Nick Rimando’s career is over.
Let that sink in, Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer fans. Rimando, who will likely go down as the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the league in any era, will never play another professional soccer game after Wednesday.
And even in his final game, he showed why he’s earned all the accolades he’s earned in his 20-year career. He made seven saves against the Sounders, which was a season high. At 40 years old, he’s still making saves like this. It’s unreal.
Rimando ends his career as the all-time leader in saves, shutouts, games played and shots faced. And in his 20th season, he did it with a torn rotator cuff, he revealed after the game. Again, that’s unreal.
This postseason as been an interesting one for Rimando. RSL celebrated his career on the team’s final home game, as did the fans. And he knew that with every advancement the team made in the playoffs, it would delay his retirement for another week, another game.
It was strange for Rimando to go through that, he said earlier this week.
“The unknown of not knowing whether if you’re going to ever step on that pitch again or be in that locker room is always going to be there until we lose,” Rimando said. “Or until we win. So just going with the flow.”
But now that the flow has stopped, Rimando plans to take some time with his kids and fix his ailing body, he said. And as far as what he will do on his first official day of retirement, he provided that answer in the video below.

2. A successful season, but questions loom

RSL by all accounts had a good season. Third in the Western Conference, home playoff game, more points and wins than last year. All are good reasons for fans to be happy and excited for what’s to come in the near future.
But at the same time, there are some deep problems the organization has to address, and it has to do with finding people for permanent positions.
RSL parted ways with former general manager Craig Waibel and fired former coach Mike Petke all within a few weeks from each other. And with all that going on recently, it’s easy to forget that the academy team also let go of its coach earlier in the season. So obviously, the organization has some moves to make in order to get things back on track from a front office perspective.
Will they keep Freddy Juarez and make him head coach? Will there be a brand new general manager from the outside, or will Elliot Fall have his interim title removed? If there is a new GM, will he bring in all his or her guys?
These questions — and more, most likely — will have to be addressed before the start of the 2019 season. But there’s plenty of time for that because what’s next is ...

3. A longer offseason

The end of the 2019 MLS season reminds me of something Tony Beltran said way before the season started. When asked about the new MLS schedule, he mentioned that it might be bad that players are basically not playing any meaningful soccer for close to five months.
It’s possible — even likely — that players are more excited about this. More offseason means more time to recover, hone skills, etc.
But is five months too long? Will it possibly make it more difficult for players to get in shape once training camp starts in February? Will it even matter.
It’s strange not to have MLS soccer for that long. But from an RSL perspective, it will be interesting to see how ready this team will be for the start of a 2020 season will likely come with some varied expectations due to Rimando’s retirement and the fact that the younger players will be a year older and wiser.
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