SANDY — The U.S. men’s national team arrived in Utah on Thursday fresh off a 2-0 win over Panama in Seattle. As the players and coaches entered Rio Tinto Stadium Thursday evening, there was one extra familiar face among the group: Nick Rimando. Real Salt Lake's goalkeeper is excited for the chance to be a member of the team that will face Honduras this coming Tuesday in a 2014 World Cup qualifying game.
“I expect a great crowd, a fantastic game, two teams that are hungry, and our team that is very confident right now with how we’ve been playing and just really waiting to get out here and see the fans and be in my home stadium. It’s very exciting,” the RSL ‘keeper said.
Rimando is already among the all-time leaders in MLS history at his position. He has won a couple of MLS Cups, and his play in the league has earned him the chance to be a part of the national team.
“It’s huge for me,” he said. “I’ve been in and out of the national team pool for a while now, so to be a part of this group, it’s probably my last run. I’m taking it step by step and game by game and taking everything in.
“I love being with this team and the guys here and I think I fit in well,” Rimando continued. “I’m just taking it one game at a time, one training at a time.”
The team had a little fun at training Thursday, playing a game of soccer/volleyball/tennis where four guys on a team hit the ball over the net with a maximum of three hits per side. It was more about enjoying time together as a team, something Rimando said is very important with a national team.
“You come into camp and you have to gel quick,” Rimando said. “With your clubs, you have time to gel and train everyday. Here, you only get a limited time to go out and perform and get those results when you have games. I guess that is really the only thing different — (other than) obviously, the players that come from different backgrounds and different parts of countries and coming together.”
The U.S. team is currently leading its group at the halfway point of qualifying, but the only team to beat it was Honduras, so the U.S. knows it will need a big effort Tuesday.
“I’ll see my family and friends for sure, but all the focus is on Tuesday. You never know what’s going to happen and you always have to be ready and I’m treating it like it is a must-win,” concluded Rimando.
Michael Black is a writer, editor and page designer at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. He has been involved in the publication of the paper for the last 10 years with an emphasis in sports.