The Real Salt Lake shot-stopper turned in another tremendous campaign in 2013, and was honored with the Goal USA award.Year after year, Real Salt Lake is among Major League Soccer's top teams. Plenty is written about attacking threats Alvaro Saborio and Javier Morales, midfield anchor Kyle Beckerman, and talented young coach Jason Kreis.
One name often overlooked may be the most important piece of all, and this year, he may have had his best season yet. RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando just keeps on turning in stellar performances, which has earned him Goal USA's 2013 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
At five-foot-10, the odds were against Rimando ever being a professional goalkeeper in the first place, but instead, he's turned himself into one of the league's best over a 13-year career.
In 2013, Rimando was again in stellar form, despite his defense losing anchor Jamison Olave before the season started. Despite Olave's loss and a myriad of injuries in front of him, Rimando was still among the league leaders in wins, win percentage, and goals against average.
Rimando hardly ever makes big mistakes, makes all the routine saves, and has a supreme command of his box. When his team needs him to come through with a big save at the end of the game, the 34-year-old almost always delivers.
Additionally, Rimando is one of the league's best distributing goalkeepers. His long throws, punts and ability with his feet allow RSL to turn defense into offense quicker than most any team in the league.
On the national team level, Rimando had a stellar Gold Cup run with the USA, which culminated with a win over Panama in the final. Firmly entrenched as the team's number three behind Tim Howard and Brad Guzan, Rimando has an excellent chance to be on the plane to Brazil next summer.
Rimando may have won the award, but he wasn't the only MLS goalkeeper to have a stellar campaign. Portland's Donovan Ricketts finished second in Goal USA's voting, as the Jamaican lead his team to a first place finish in the Western Conference.
Ricketts was acquired by Portland in August 2012 after an unsuccessful stint in Montreal. In the Pacific Northwest, however, Ricketts has rediscovered the form that made him the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2010 with the Galaxy. The Jamaican international lead the league with 14 shutouts while making spectacular saves on a seemingly weekly basis.
The Jamaican may very well win his second MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2013, but for the Goal USA team, Rimando gets the nod. Perhaps 2013 will finally be the year for the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper to win his first MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award as well.