Nick Rimando

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 11: John Brooks #6 of the United States argues with a referee in the first half against Mexico during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier at MAPFRE Stadium on November 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Three things we learned from USMNT’s draw against Serbia

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January friendlies have become a time for the U.S. Men’s National Team to look at its younger domestic players for the future, but for Bruce Arena’s team time isn’t really on its side right now.

The U.S. looked largely unconvincing on Sunday against Serbia in their 0-0 draw at Qualcomm Stadium, and with just one more friendly separating the USMNT from the resumption of World Cup qualifying nerves are starting to kick in.

[ MORE: USMNT, Serbia finish scoreless in Arena’s return ]

Here’s what we learned about the USMNT from Sunday’s draw with Serbia.


Nagbe production will be vital moving forward

Let’s start with the positives. It started and ended with Darlington Nagbe on Sunday, as the Portland Timbers midfielder showed glimpses of how dangerous he can be in a USMNT attack that often lacks creativity. While the U.S. was without pieces like Clint Dempsey, Bobby Wood and Christian Pulisic, Nagbe figures to be an important figure for Arena moving forward because of his versatility, skill on the ball and ability to play multiple positions.

It’s still uncertain just exactly which formation Arena will settle on, but if Sunday is any indiction of the former LA Galaxy manager’s mindset the U.S. will need a creative mind like Nagbe behind Jozy Altidore in order to develop the attack.

The 4-1-4-1 or at times 4-2-3-1 left Altidore isolated for much of the encounter against Serbia, making it difficult for the Toronto FC striker to operate. Many names will be in the mix for a starting position come March but with the status of Clint Dempsey unknown as he returns from a long layoff with health issues and Sacha Kljestan and Alejandro Bedoya largely quiet on Sunday, Nagbe should have a legitimate shot to crack the starting XI.

Back four still uncertain

The Graham Zusi experiment at right back went surprisingly well, albeit against an undermanned Serbia team, however, the state of the U.S. defense heading into March remains up in the air. While John Brooks, Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin are all likely to get starting nods against Honduras, the USMNT still lacks depth at outside back.

Sunday presented a big opportunity for both Zusi and Greg Garza, who started at left back, but it was the latter that struggled throughout the match and left the door open for Jorge Villafana and veteran DaMarcus Beasley to at least be in the conversation. Ultimately, Villafana’s club situation is a concern due to his lack of playing time in Liga MX and Beasley’s age also factors into the equation.

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Photo Credit: Twitter/U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer)

While Johnson’s versatility and skill could likely be beneficial for Arena on the wing, for the time being he’s still the best option that the USMNT possesses at left back.

The pairing of Chad Marshall and Steve Birnbaum was successful against the Serbs, which was certainly a bright spot on the day. While Geoff Cameron and Brooks have seemingly locked down a starting partnership in the center of the U.S. defense, Cameron’s injury woes have left the door open for someone to claim the spot next to Brooks. Birnbaum has a stronger chance to claim the position than Marshall, but also look out for FC Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman, who has impressed during January camp and should see time against Jamaica.

Rimando leads the way in goal

Goalkeeper has long been a position that the USMNT hasn’t had to worry about but with the status of the team’s top two choices currently uncertain, the job could be Nick Rimando’s to lose for the near future following Sunday’s performance.

The Real Salt Lake keeper wasn’t tested often against the Serbs, but the 37-year-old came up clutch when called upon and he has the experience in MLS to answer the call if needed. While Rimando has yet to make an appearance for the U.S. in World Cup qualifying, he would benefit from playing two of the weaker sides in the Hex, Honduras and Panama.

While names like David Bingham and Luis Robles will be thrown around because of their consistent success in MLS, Rimando has consistently been in the national team setup for years and has had the opportunity to watch Tim Howard and Brad Guzan from close sight. Howard is coming back from offseason surgery, making his availability in March highly questionable, while Guzan has struggled to find minutes in the Premier League with Middlesbrough.

USMNT boss Arena says GK pool is nine deep

Coach Bruce Arena, center, talks to the U.S. men's national soccer team members as they gather on the field during practice Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Carson, Calif. Coach Arena opens camp with the team in the same training complex where he spent the past eight years running the LA Galaxy. Arena returned to the U.S. team in November to salvage its run for World Cup qualification. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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There are nine goalkeepers in the discussion right now for United States men’s national team coach Bruce Arena.

Six are based in the United States, with three more abroad in the forms of Middlesbrough’s Brad Guzan, Club Brugge’s Ethan Horvath, and Leon’s William Yarbrough.

[ MORE: Klopp on Mourinho ]

None of those names are available for the USMNT’s upcoming friendlies against Serbia and Jamaica, nor are injured backstops Tim Howard (Colorado) and Bill Hamid (DC United). Camp member Stefan Frei is not yet eligible for U.S. selection.

So the options are a trio of already capped players in San Jose’s David Bingham (2 caps), Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando (21), and New York Red Bulls ‘keep Luis Robles (2).

Who will get the first look from Arena? It’s anyone’s guess. All three have been thorns in Arena’s side with the LA Galaxy, though Bingham is both the youngest and the most recent to see USMNT time. Might it be the 27-year-old’s time to shine vs. Serbia?

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MLS Snapshot: Real Salt Lake 2-1 Houston Dynamo (video)

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando shouts during the second half of an MLS soccer match against the Seattle Sounders Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Sandy, Utah. Real Salt Lake won 2-0. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake are tied (with the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas) for the top spot in the Western Conference and in the race for the Supporters’ Shield (with one and two fewer games played, respectively) following 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the bottom-of-the-league Houston Dynamo at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday. Jordan Allen and Yura Movsisyan bagged the goals for RSL, not long after Miranda gave the visitors the game’s first lead nine minutes after halftime. The lasting image of Saturday’s game, as seems to have been the case on about 100 prior occasions, was the late heroics of goalkeeper Nick Rimando (below video).

[ MORE: Monday’s MLS Rewind column  ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

15′ — Willis denies Burrito not once, but twice — Joe Willis just would not be beaten by Juan Manuel “El Burrito” Martinez.

54′ — Miranda uses the deflection for the opener — Credit Jamison Olave for the deflection if you must, but failing to deal with the initial ball into the box, followed by Nick Rimando spillage were just as at fault.

62′ — Allen fires past Willis for the equalizer — Likewise, turning the ball over five yards outside your own penalty area is inadvisable. The pass (Justen Glad) and finish (Allen) were clinical.

70′ — Movsisyan turns home the near-post cross — Demar Phillips provided the pinpoint cross, and Movsisyan made no mistake on the finish for a 2-1 lead. This is pretty soccer.

80′ — Rimando’s (double-)Save of the Year candidate — Never retire, Nick . Never, ever, ever, please.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Nick Rimando

Goalscorers: Miranda (54′), Allen (62′), Movsisyan (70′)

Tigres finally beats stellar Rimando, tops RSL in CONCACAF Champions League first leg

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando shouts during the second half of an MLS soccer match against the Seattle Sounders Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Sandy, Utah. Real Salt Lake won 2-0. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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Tigres finally broke down the “Wall of the Wasatch” at the Estadio Universitario on Wednesday.

Jose Rivas had a goal and an assist as hosts Tigres overcame a solid performance from Real Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando to win 2-0 in the first leg of the two sides’ CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal.

Jurgen Damm had the other Tigres goal. The second leg is at Rio Tinto on March 2.

[ MORE CCL: Queretaro beats DC | Seattle draws Club America ]

It was the third-straight CCL game that saw an MLS side wilt late against Liga MX competition, lending credence to the early season fitness critique of the tournament’s timing.

Aaron Maund took too long to send a ball and saw his clearance deflected into the path of Andre-Pierre Gignac, who opened up too much on his shot and passed wide of the goal.

Olave was booked for tripping Rafael Sobis running down the left in the 14th minute, and Tigres had a free kick from about 23 yards out. The effort was tame.

[ MORE: Artist’s renderings of Minnesota United’s new stadium ]

Gignac missed a third kick at the can in the 30th minute, pushing the ball across the six but wide of the goal.

Tigres was awarded a PK just before halftime, as a header nicked off Kyle Beckerman’s trailing hand. But Nick Rimando scooped up Gignac’s low attempt to keep it scoreless.

Rimando was back at it early in the second half, getting low to collect Damian Alvarez’s shot.

Olave’s rough night continued when Rivas out-jumped him to head past Rimando, and 20 minutes later he was late to Rivas when the Mexican center back passed across goal to Damm, who needed two kicks to beat the sprawling RSL back line.

MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 24

Obafemi Martins, Seattle Sounders FC
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Week 24 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is in the books, and was it ever one for the long-term memory bank! Saturday night’s slate of games offered up one of the most memorable comeback victories in MLS history.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Week 24 MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

There was also a matter of Nat Borchers, who features in this week’s MLS Team of the Week (full squad below), scoring a 95th-minute winner against Real Salt Lake, his former club of seven seasons. Borchers’ late header was the only chink in the armor of Nick Rimando (also in the TOTW), who was predictably brilliant in nearly securing his side a 0-0 draw.

[ WILD NIGHT IN MLS: SKC 4-3 VAN | FCD 1-2 LAGRBNY 3-0 TFC | RSL 0-1 POR ]

Elsewhere in Week 24, Obafemi Martins returned from injury to score two goals; Robbie Keane marked his 100th MLS appearance with his 65th and 66th league goals; David Villa scored his 14th goal and notched his sixth assist of the season; and Kekuta Manneh bagged a first-half brace in an utterly dominant performance.

Thoughts? Questions? Agreements? Disagreements? (Of course not.) Leave them in the comments section, as always. I’m not afraid to defend my picks.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS Team of the Week archive ]

MLS Team of the Week — Week 24

Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

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Defenders: Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Nat Borchers (Portland Timbers), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes)

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Midfielders: Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver Whitecaps), Cristian Maidana (Philadelphia Union), Kwadwo Poku (New York City FC), Paulo Nagamura (Sporting Kansas City)

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Forwards: Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders), David Villa (New York City FC)

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