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Real Salt Lake 2014: 5 traits that make goalkeeper Nick Rimando world-class

Athleticism
Gene Sweeney Jr

For Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, his magical season continued on Saturday, April 19 as he inched closer towards setting Major League Soccer’s all time shutout record. After defeating the Portland Timbers 1-0 -- this after he sat out two weeks due to a knee injury he suffered against Mexico in a U.S. national team friendly -- you wonder if the man is even human at times.

You really wonder when you examine the diving save he made in the 85th minute, contorting his body like an acrobat as he parried away what was a sure goal going into the upper corner. When you consider that Rimando only stands a mere 5-foot-9 and weighs only 184 pounds--certainly not the standard for modern-day goalkeepers--you realize you’re looking at someone who defies all odds and is truly special.

Rimando is currently 3-0-2 as Real Salt Lake goalkeeper this season. He has 23 saves, the third-best mark in MLS despite missing several games due to international callups. But he is far and away the best shot-stopper in the league, allowing just 0.80 goals per game.

But those are just a few examples of what makes Rimando such a unique world-class goalkeeper. Here are five traits that make him stand out above the rest.

Athleticism
Athleticism Gene Sweeney Jr

Athleticism

Everyone knows Rimando can make the most spectacular of saves -- but few know that he has the best foot skills among all goalkeepers in Major League Soccer.

Unlike most MLS goalkeepers, Rimando’s goal kicks are also above average. Defenders are just as comfortable passing the ball back to Rimando as they are creating interplay in their own back line.

His versatility has allowed RSL to essentially utilize him as a sweeper-keeper -- which also grants RSL’s wing defenders -- such as Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert -- the freedom to attack.

Experience
Experience Christian Petersen

Experience

Few realize Rimando has played in Major League Soccer for 15 seasons now. To give you an idea of how long Rimando has been in MLS, the Miami Fusion were the first pro team he played for, in 2000.

After being the 35th overall selection in the MLS SuperDraft out of UCLA, Rimando played for Miami -- until the franchise folded. While there he played alongside current RSL GM Garth Lagerwey and his current head coach Jeff Cassar.

Fearlessness
Fearlessness Gene Sweeney Jr

Fearlessness

Rimando has only missed one season due to injuries in his 15-year career -- back in 2006 when he played with D.C. United.

Though he’s always carrying various knocks -- which is common as a goalkeeper -- his numbers have hardly suffered.

Even last year -- when he missed seven games due to international duty and illness -- Rimando still had a solid year, helping his team earn a result in 20 of the 27 games he played.

Leadership
Leadership Ed Zurga

Leadership

Nobody is more vocal in MLS than Rimando -- who has long been known for publicly chastising his teammates for a poor play they have made.

This was apparent as recently as the game against Portland on Saturday, April 19 when midfielder Sebastian Velasquez failed to track back.

Before anyone -- including captain Kyle Beckerman -- could get to Velasquez Rimando was right there in his face, barking at him for losing his mark.

Humility
Humility Steve Dykes

Humility

Like most great leaders, Rimando is also quick to divert any attention he has received to others.

After being asked what he thought about nearing the milestone of the most all-time shutouts in MLS, he replied thusly.

“I think it’s a really great accomplishment, but I think when it comes, it comes. I’m not banking on it coming next week or the following week. I’m just thinking about getting a win and keeping this game moving forward. If it comes, it comes and when it comes I’m sure everybody will make a big deal about it.”