What a way for Nick Rimando to reintroduce himself to his Real Salt Lake teammates.
After having spent the entire month of July away from his club, Rimando got his first MLS start since June. And while he was unable to post a victory and saw the Rocky Mountain Cup settle east of the Rockies for the first time since 2006, it was his stellar play that allowed RSL to salvage a point on the road in a 2-2 tie with the Colorado Rapids.
"Stunning, absolutely stunning," Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said to reporters of Rimando's performance. "He continues what I think is easily, hands down, the best year of his entire playing career. Without Nick Rimando in that game, I think we lose it."
People throw around the reference: "Cat-like-reflexes" way too easily, but after watching some of the saves Rimando made against the Rapids, there really isn't a more accurate term.
On the night, he had eight saves, and when the MLSsoccer.com saves of the week nominees come out, Rimando could realistically make a claim for a sweep. It seemed like the 34-year-old just kept adding to his highlight reel with each foray by the Rapids.
"We wanted the three points and I thought, honestly, we deserved it," Rapids coach Oscar Pareja said afterward. "It was with the performance of [Nick] Rimando and I understand now why Rimando is on the [U.S.] National Team, he was outstanding today so congratulations to him for his performance."
There was his 87th minute deflection up over the top on a Shane O'Neil blast from 10 yards. There were his two saves on distance blasts from Tony Cascio in the 84th minute.
His 23rd minute save on Edson Buddle was unbelievable. But what will probably stand out most was how he somehow kept the ball from crossing the line in the 53rd minute on a header-flick from Jaime Castrillon, where those reflexes allowed him to hit the ball away from goal and, after a deflection, crawl and slap the ball off the line.
"It was a free kick, and again we weren't organized," said Rimando, mentioning RSL's struggles on set pieces as of late. "Nobody was in the spot they should've been. A guy got a head on it. I went down low to my left to make a save and as [Nat] Borchers turned it redirected off of Borchers toward the right side of the goal. I just got up and luckily got there before the ball went over the line."
Any one of them could win the award, but Rimando has never been about accolades.
"We got a result and that's what matters," he said to reporters after the game. "Yes, we didn't win the Rocky Mountain Cup, and that means a lot to the fans, but we got a result. We are still ahead of Colorado in the standings, and most important, we got to keep our confidence up and very important game on Wednesday."
Rimando & Co. will put this game out of their minds quickly as they prepare for the US Open Cup semifinal at Rio Tinto Stadium Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET) when they host the Portland Timbers.