By TYLER GRAY
SANDY, Utah. – Chris Schuler picked up the brace but in the end it was Nick Rimando’s night.
Real Salt Lake steamrolled DC United, 3-0, in front of a sold-out crowd on Saturday night. A brace from Schuler and another goal provided by forward Joao Plata ensured that RSL got a measure of revenge for last season’s Open Cup Championship loss.
RSL hadn’t gotten a goal from their defense all season long until Schuler decided it was about time.
His first goal came just two minutes after the opening goal when he made a surging near post run and poked Javier Morales’ low cross into the goal. His second was all power when he rose up during a corner kick in the 24th minute and headed the ball into the back of the net with authority.
Schuler rose his arms defiantly into the air an homage to Russell Crowe’s Gladiator, seemingly asking the crowd, “Are you not entertained?”
RSL head coach Jeff Cassar was happy to finally see a defender put one into the back of the net.
“The players have been working with our staff,” Cassar said. “Tonight, it really happened for us. It starts with excellent service from Javi [Morales], then it finishes with committed and aggressive runs in the box. Two fantastic finishes from Chris [Schuler]. It’s something we’ve been working on – both offensively and defensively – and tonight was a great night for it.”
Morales provided both assists to the stalwart defender and played masterful throughout the entire match earning himself an early substitution in the 68th minute.
The opening goal came during a well-worked sequence as forward Olmes Garcia attempted to center a cross to the top of the box from the end line. His attempt was blocked but bounced out to Luke Mulholland who had a go. The midfielder played a perfect pass right onto the head of Plata who directed the ball past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid in the 11th minute.
The scoring deluge couldn’t drown out a record-breaking achievement however.
RSL goalkeeper Rimando assumed the number one spot in the record books, logging his 113th shutout and he didn’t even break a sweat. He passed previous record holder, and fellow UCLA alum, Kevin Hartman with the victory over DC United, his former club.
Cassar was effusive in his praise of Rimando, but was sure to stress that the best is yet to come.
“I don’t really know what to say,” Cassar said. “What an amazing career so far, but there’s so much left for him. It couldn’t happen to a better person. He’s a leader within our team and locker room. He’s a fantastic goalkeeper. It’s an amazing individual award, but as I’m sure Nick [Rimando] said, there’s a lot of people that were involved in it. I think there’s more to come. I think there’s a lot more to come.”
About two minutes before the match ended the entire stadium began to chant “Nick Rimando,” until it was deafening. Asked after the match what it means to finally get the record, Rimando was honest in his response.
“Feels good,” Rimando said. “To hear those fans out there scream my name with two minutes left got me a little nervous but it’s great to do it in front of the fans that stuck by me all of my career here. They have been so gracious to me and welcomed me. I was able to share that with them as well as, of course, my teammates and my coaches.”
The chant continued long after the final whistle blew and Rimando had the record secure. The crowd lingered for as long as they could, soaking up the historic moment, perhaps realizing that something like this might never happen again.
Here are the game highlights: