SEATTLE (ABC4 Sports) – The legendary career of Nick Rimando has come to an end along with Real Salt Lake’s season.
Rimando did all he could for the first hour in an attempt to prolong his 20-year career for one more game and frustrate the Seattle Sounders.
But Gustav Svensson finally found the breakthrough goal in the 64th minute, as Seattle knocked RSL out of the playoffs with a 2-0 victory.
“This is the end of my career, but maybe I’ll stay in the game somehow,” Rimando said. “Right now, it sucks because we wanted to go a bit further, even though people didn’t have us in mind. The guys gave it their all. All we could have done is give it our all and that’s what we did. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out on the right side of the results.”
“We know we have guys who can finish chances, but Rimando, in his last game, he was amazing,” Seattle’s Kelvin Leerdam said.
Rimando made 7 saves, but Seattle’s attack was too much, while RSL managed just one shot on frame.
Svensson scored his second career playoff goal in the 64th minute, while Nicolas Lodeiro added the capper in the 81st minute and the Sounders advanced to the Western Conference final for the third time in four seasons.
This is the second straight year that RSL has lost in the conference semifinals.
“We came we showed up, we fought, we didn’t bunker it we didn’t try to board the game,” said RSL interim head coach Freddy Juarez. “We came we fought and that’s what we asked of the guys and I’m so proud of them. I’m so proud with what the group had to deal with this year and the respect they gave me to try and lead them. We can’t forget that the team has grown from last year. We improved in points and got the home playoff game so we need to continue to grow and learn off of this and get better for next year.”
Svensson flicked a header off a corner kick past Rimando midway through the second half after Seattle had dominated scoring chances all night. It was Svensson’s first goal of the season, and Lodeiro provided the capper 17 minutes later.
When the final whistle blew, Rimando stood in the penalty area for a few minutes, accepting handshakes and hugs from teammates and opponents. It was a memorable farewell to MLS after 20 seasons for Rimando, who was the best player for Salt Lake but couldn’t withstand all of Seattle’s pressure and was eventually beaten late.
Rimando will leave MLS as the league leader in wins, saves, shutouts and games.
“Tomorrow? I’m going to take my kids to school in the morning. … I’ll wake up and get them breakfast and check them into school. Then kick my feet up and have a couple whiskeys maybe, and relax,” Rimando said.
Seattle will face Los Angeles FC or the LA Galaxy in the conference final next Tuesday.
While RSL controlled possession, Seattle dominated scoring chances, seemingly each one getting closer to finally getting past Rimando. Leerdam had a pair of chances denied early in the second half. Rimando first batted away a volleyed attempt then made a quick reaction to keep Leerdam’s deflected cross off Nedum Onuoha from going in for an own goal.
Just moments before Svensson’s goal, Rimando tipped Cristian Roldan’s header over the crossbar at the last moment.
But Rimando was helpless on Seattle’s breakthrough. The corner kick from Lodeiro came to the near post and without a defender on the goal line at the post Rimando couldn’t react in time.
“I mean it’s hard to speak after a game when you get knocked out, but overall we stuck with our plan, we didn’t sit back, we had the ball more than we usually would on the road,” said RSL midfielder Albert Rusnak. “It’s a shame that we didn’t really create a 100 percent chance to score a goal. To concede the first goal on a set piece, it kind of hurts, if it would have been a nice combination play then you kind of look at if differently. It’s a new experience for many players in our group and just improve for next year, there’s not much more.”
Real Salt Lake’s Everton Luiz was shown a red card in the 85th minute for a challenge on Svensson. RSL finished with just seven shots and only one on target.