2013 Player Profiles (#1): Nick Rimando has another career year

USA TODAY Sports

Nick Rimando’s 2013 season was defined by three things:  1) He posted his best stats since his stellar 2010; 2) He solidified himself as the US Men’s National Team #3 GK heading into a World Cup year; and 3) His game-to-game performances were arguably the best of his career. All that while getting his black-on-black goalkeeper kit back? No wonder he topped our player rating list even over Javier Morales’ spectacular season.

The stats and merits don’t lie. Rimando won MLS’ Save of the Week nine times (second only to Ricketts’ 10). He made MLS’ Team of the Week four times (tied with Clint Irwin) and was an honorable mention five times. He won MLS’ Save of the Year with his superb double diving stop against Colorado in August. Was once again a serious contender for MLS’ Goalkeeper of the Year award. And he was selected for the MLS’ All-Star Team that took on AS Roma at Sporting Park in Kansas City.

Add to all this a rather solid stat line on the season -- a 14-7-6 record over 27 games, 9 shutouts, a low 28 goals against, 1.04 GAA, and 82 saves.

Contrast to the 2010 season where he posted the best numbers of his career -- 15-4-8 record over 27 games (playing an equal 2,430 minutes to 2013), 14 shutouts, 18 goals against, 0.67 GAA, and 78 saves.

While the stat lines for the two seasons mentioned give a clear account that 2010 was certainly a career year for Rimando, I’m one of several people that are firm believers his individual performances in 2013 surpassed those in 2010. Many of the 2010 numbers could be largely attributed to how consistently solid RSL’s entire defense was that season. For example, RSL broke the league record for fewest goals allowed (20 in 2010), allowed only seven goals at home, had a much-improved road record of 4-4-7, and was undefeated at home which extended that streak from May 2009.

It’s clear that overall team performance in 2010 was at its peak as the offensive stats were also record-breaking. That takes nothing away from Rimando’s contributions; rather it’s testament to how well Nicky’s played in conjunction with his teammates. If anything, his stats have improved from then through 2013 in spite of the team not playing quite as well as that record-breaking season in 2010.

Comparing the two seasons statistically is rather easily done as Rimando played exactly the same number of games/minutes in both. Only four saves were the difference. Shots against was 112, 12 more than 2010, and on par for recent seasons. Combine this with fewer shutouts and a slightly higher GAA (both of which are more team stats than individual), and you can begin to see that the overall defensive solidarity is to blame for Rimando’s decreased numbers.

With a revolving door of center backs, and at times outside backs, throughout the season, the chemistry of the backline and defensive unit in 2013 could be seen as not ideal. The perseverance by the group, and the consistency by Rimando in particular, kept 2013 on par for past RSL successes even through the challenging moments. The stalwart Nat Borchers and his adaptability on the backline is another testament to this.

Whether you think Rimando’s 2010 or 2013 was his best, both sides can agree that the 34 year old GK is one of, if not the, chief reason the team has continued their successes on the field. That’s set to continue in 2014.

The coming year could be another to enter into the debate. As mentioned earlier, Rimando’s almost a dead lock for that third GK spot on Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT roster. Provided his backline is free of injury, the unit as a whole could be set to match the gelling defense of 2010 and built upon the latter stages of last season.

He’s also set to break a few more records in the coming years. The MLS all-time goalkeeping stat list sees Nicky near the top of almost every category. He is second in minutes played (31,293). He’s also second in the wins column with 151, the only GK in the top 6 on the list that’s still active. While he’s a few seasons away from taking over the #1 spot in either of those categories, there’s one that he’s almost guaranteed to break in 2014 -- the shutout record. After breaking the 100 mark in the stat in 2013, he’s a measly four away from surpassing Kevin Hartman’s number of 112.

Like fine wine, goalkeepers get better with age. Nick Rimando is proof of that. He turns 35 in June, and by all accounts he has plenty of juice left in the tank. There are plenty of reasons why he’s our Homeboy here at RSL. The 2013 season is just his latest example.

Editor's note: This is part of a series of player profiles recapping the 2013 season and previewing the 2014 season. Player ratings were compiled via a vote by RSL Soapbox writers. Statistics are via mlssoccer.com.

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