Rimando appreciates World Cup in spite of role
SAO PAULO — One day when Nick Rimando was at World Cup training camp last month in Northern California, his two children opened a lemonade stand back home in Salt Lake City to support their father and U.S. soccer.
Jett Nicholas and little sister Benny Rose were thrilled about getting ready to watch the tournament. And, barring injuries, that’s all their dad will do, too — though he has zero complaints.
Rimando has good-naturedly accepted and relished his role as a No. 3 goalkeeper counted upon to stay motivated and ready while pushing the Americans’ first two, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan.
Rimando, one of Major League Soccer’s top goalies in recent years, knows he will be a spectator in uniform for the Americans unless there’s a catastrophe. No team has used three goalies in a World Cup since Greece in 1994.
“Just completely honored, and I take a lot of pride being on this team,” said Rimando, who’s now with Real Salt Lake. “I’m taking it all in and doing my part. My role is a different role than other players, and also a role that I need to be prepared if called upon. I’ve seen a lot of things go down where three goalkeepers play in one game.”
It’s rare, indeed.
In the 1994 World Cup in the U.S., each of the three Greece goalies played an entire game in the group stage, according to STATS. Greece was outscored 10-0 by Argentina, Bulgaria and Nigeria.
Rimando is hardly an unknown. The former UCLA Bruin got a 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.
During training scrimmages, Rimando watches intently from the end line while Guzan is in goal, then jumps in for a turn.
In 2013, Rimando posted a 0.67 goals against average, the best mark by a U.S. goalkeeper with at least six games since Guzan did so in 2008. Rimando is unbeaten with the national team over 14 matches in his six-year international career.
That reliability earned him a spot on coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23-man roster.
Rimando turns 35 on Tuesday, a day after the U.S. opener. His kids are 6 and 4 — and earned a whopping $42 running their stand May 25.
“I’ll probably take it and put it in their piggy banks,” Rimando said. “He has a huge heart, that kid.”
Rimando’s teammates share that same sentiment about him.
“He’s been the best MLS goalkeeper for years now. He doesn’t get any accolades because he’s so consistent,” said midfielder Kyle Beckerman, also Rimando’s MLS teammate. “Every year he has a great year and it’s what people come to expect. That’s not who the accolades go to. It goes to someone who surprises them. ... It’s great to see that even without those accolades Jurgen has been able to see how good he is and recognize the player he is without all the hoopla.”
Howard and Rimando have a blast trading barbs during keep-away drills when they are separated into their own tight-knit group in one corner of the field.
In fact, Howard still claims Rimando urinated on his foot sometime around 1999 — though Rimando won’t offer any details or recollections of what actually occurred.
“Nicky’s one of my favorite people in the world,” Howard said. “Nick and I have known each other half our lives. We were roommates together for seven years with the national team, U-17 and U-20. We were just reminiscing the other day about some stories. We could write a book.”
While Rimando is in the middle of final preparations for Monday’s match with Ghana at Natal, he has allowed himself to reflect just a little bit.
Rimando’s wife, former professional player Jacqui Little, will cheer him in Brazil so they can cherish the experience together. Their children stayed back in Southern California with his parents.
“It’s 23 guys out of so many millions in the U.S., to be a part of this again is special and a dream that I’m living,” he said. “To say to my kids and grandkids that I was a part of the biggest sporting event in the world is something I’m going to take to the grave for sure.”