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QUICK TAKE: Nick Rimando
by Ridge Mahoney, March 30th, 2010 12:51AM
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[MLS] Real Salt Lake goalie Nick Rimando helped his team to the 2009 league title with back-to-back shootout wins in the semifinals and MLS Cup. RSL travels to Houston on Thursday after opening its 2010 season by winning in San Jose, 3-0. Rimando explains to Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney why last year's crown was no fluke.

Dating back to last year’s playoffs, RSL -- which struggled to a 2-11-2 road record in the regular season – has not been beaten in four straight games away from Rio Tinto Stadium: at Columbus, at Chicago, at Seattle (MLS Cup), and at San Jose.

SOCCER AMERICA: The scoreline [3-0] might suggest RSL dominated this game, but you, personally, had to make a few saves to keep San Jose off the scoreboard.

NICK RIMANDO: I think we controlled the game a lot, but still they got their chances, and I think they got their chances maybe from us taking a couple of plays off. They’re a dangerous team and have two forwards [Ryan Johnson, Cornell Glen] who battle for every ball. But we won the game in the midfield and we won the second balls and obviously when Javier [Morales] scores two goals like that, we’d better get three points.

He had a great performance and just all-around, the possession of the ball and confidence coming in here from last year helped us out.

SA: Is there a sense around the league that last year was a fluke, that you finished under .500 in the regular season and just got hot at the right time?

RIMANDO: That’s MLS. If you get hot at the end, you’re hot at the right time. That’s how you win championships. That’s what happened in D.C. [2004] when we won it and that’s what happened here, too. The way this league is set up, eight teams go to the playoffs, and if you sneak in like we did, you have a chance to win it. But we want to come in this year and prove that it wasn’t a fluke, and we are a good team.

SA: You also want to improve on the road from last year. You’ve won in San Jose, and Thursday you’re at Houston.

RIMANDO:
They’re a great team, home and away. They’ve proven that over the years, but for us to go there and get any kind of a result is going to be a positive. Of our first five games, four of them are on the road, so if we can get points starting off the year it’s good for our confidence. [The San Jose win] was great but Houston is a better test.

SA: The goal this year for RSL is to join the league’s elite teams that are always contending for a championship, like Houston. Is there anything about that team you’d like to emulate?

RIMANDO:Consistency. They have hard workers, we have hard workers. They have special players and so do we. I think we match up well against them but I think what draws them out is they finish games well just about every week. We had trouble with that last year on the road. At home we were great [9-1-5] but we have to be more consistent on the road.



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