Nick Rimando

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MLS Snapshot: Whitecaps outlast RSL to go 3rd in jumbled West

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The game in 100 words (or less): Someone’s going to finish top of the Western Conference this season. By the competition rules of MLS, someone will finish the 34-game regular season in first place. No one’s saying the team to do so will be a “good” team, or whatsoever a threat to take MLS Cup from Toronto FC the Eastern Conference winner. Who knows, it might even be the Vancouver Whitecaps, who at no point during their entire existence the last two or three seasons have looked capable of stringing together three consecutive quality performances and establishing themselves as legitimate contenders. The first two-thirds of the 2017 season were merely more of the same for Carl Robinson’s side, with one gigantic exception: the West is extremely not-good this year. Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Real Salt Lake sends Vancouver third in the West, three points back of the Portland Timbers with three games in hand.

[ MORE: MLS Power Rankings — Week 26 | Weekend preview ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

29′ — Techera turns it in, past a flailing Rimando — Nick Rimando spent the last decade becoming/being the greatest goalkeeper in MLS history, but we all know Father Time is undefeated. We’ve seen him make this pretty routine save probably 300 times in his career. This time, he couldn’t get anywhere near it.

37′ — Ousted caught in two minds, tips ball into his own net — It’s tough to fault David Ousted here, as Yura Movsisyan presents the impossible choice of playing the cross or waiting for the impending header. So impossible, in fact, it’s tough to credit the goal to Movsisyan or Chris Wingert.

52′ — Waston slams home a rebound off the post — No one wants to see Rimando go out like this. I hate seeing it, you hate seeing it, everyone hates it. Heck of a finish from Kendall Waston, who’s not exactly the most composed player the world has ever seen.

55′ — Ousted makes a stunning, diving save — Justen Glad got up and get plenty of power on his header, but Ousted was eager to redeem his earlier blunder.

64′ — Reyna’s diving-missile header beats Rimando for 3-1 — There’s something so satisfying about a player flinging his entire body, head-first, at the ball and watching the back of the net bulge immediately thereafter.

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Man of the match: Bernie Ibini-Isei

Goalscorers: Techera (29′), Wingert (37′), Waston (52′), Reyna (64′), Beltran (83′)

MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 1-0 Real Salt Lake (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Brian Schmetzer’s side went through a similar beginning to the season in 2016, and the club went on to win MLS Cup. The Seattle Sounders will hope to duplicate that feat this season. Coming off a four-match winless run, the Sounders responded well at home on Saturday, knocking off Real Salt Lake behind Harry Shipp’s second goal of the season. Despite Nick Rimando’s best efforts — and his 22nd career penalty kick stop — RSL struggled to finish off numerous chances in the attacking third. Meanwhile, the other goalkeeper in the match was pretty stellar as well, with Stefan Frei making five saves of his own for the hosts.

[ MORE: BWP bicycle kick dazzles in Red Bulls draw ]

Three moments that mattered

39′ — Rimando stones Morris in front of goal — Nick Rimando has built up his reputation as a top MLS goalkeeper in his career, and this 1 v 1 situation showed why.

42′ — Shipp gives Sounders lead at HT — Sometimes you just need to take your shots and good things happen.

55′ — Rimando does what he does best… — Most teams clammer when conceding a penalty kick, but when you have Nick Rimando in goal chances are the shot-stopper will at least get a hand to it.

Man of the match: Stefan Frei

Goalscorers: Harry Shipp (42′)

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MLS (afternoon) roundup: Chicago on Fire; TFC lose Giovinco to injury

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The second MLS Saturday of 2017 is just about about halfway complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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Chicago Fire 2-0 Real Salt Lake

Two weeks into an MLS season is absolutely too early to make bold predictions based off of 180 minutes of soccer, but since I said it before the season started, I’m going to ride this pony until it keels over: Chicago’s going to the playoffs. Last week, they came from behind to rescue a point on the road against Columbus Crew SC. On Saturday, the blitzed RSL in the opening 15 minutes, took care of business defensively, saw out a mostly comfortable 2-0 win in their 2017 home opener.

Nemanja Nikolic bagged his first MLS goal to opening the scoring, only 11 minutes on the clock, and Arturo Alvarez made it 2-0 barely four minutes later.

The final score would have been extremely lopsided if not for the (typical) heroics of Nick Rimando. With four points from their first two games of the season, Veljko Paunovic’s side has already matched its haul from the first month of 2016 (four games).

Philadelphia Union 2-2 Toronto FC

Philadelphia and Toronto drew 2-2 but — who are we kidding? — the real story here is the health and well-being of Sebastian Giovinco. The tiny Italian was subbed off in the 45th minute, after Oguchi Onyewu destroyed the 2015 MLS MVP in a collision of knees at midfield. The official diagnosis from TFC was a “leg contusion.”

As for the other 89 minutes, 55 seconds: Jozy Altidore is off the mark for 2017, converting a penalty kick moments after Giovinco left the field after Jay Simpson scored his first MLS goal to put Philadelphia ahead in the 11th minute. TFC took the lead — ever so briefly as it was — in the 71st minute, as Justin Morrow fired past Andre Blake. Two minutes later, C.J. Sapong rounded Clint Irwin and made it 2-2, which is how the game would end.

New York Red Bulls 1-0 Colorado Rapids

Tim Howard played out-of-his-mind amazing on his 2017 debut (WATCH HERE), but Colorado were ultimately undone by an own goal, scored by Eric Miller, in the 45th minute. On the plus side, Colorado haven’t conceded a goal scored by their opponents through two games. They’re equally stingy, and annoying to watch and play against, this year as they were in 2016, which is to say, they’ll be involved in lots of 1-0 games these next eight months. Through two games: a 1-0 win, and a 1-0 loss.

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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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

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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?

Follow @NicholasMendola