The Claret-and-Cobalt's 3-0 win lifted them into first place in the Western Conference and into a tie for first place in the Supporters' Shield race — pending the outcome of a couple of games on Sunday.
Not only that, but RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando set the all-time MLS record for career shutouts at 113, a week after he tied the mark set by retired ‘keeper Kevin Hartman. And Rimando did it against the team that traded to him to Salt Lake in 2007.
En route to setting the record for the most shutouts in MLS history, Rimando admits he was worried at one point on Saturday night.
“To hear those fans out there screaming my name with two minutes left made me a little nervous,” he said with a smile. “But it's great to do it in front of the fans who stuck by me all my career here.”
But it was a momentous occasion as Rimando set the record in front of the home fans, so he “was able to share that with them as well as my teammates and my coaches. It's something I dreamed of, making that record here.”
“I think it's important for him but it's good for us because he's a good guy,” said RSL midfielder Javier Morales. “He's one of the most important guys on this team, on this club.”
As is generally the case, Rimando deflected credit for the record onto is teammates.
“I don't think any shutout is for myself,” he said. “I have the name on the shutout but it's a committed effort from the team, so this is not only my record. My name is on it, but there are a lot of guys that should be getting credit for this.”
It was a record that everyone knew was coming, they just didn't know when.
“We knew that we had a lot more shutouts in us on this team. It was only a matter of time,” said Rimando, who didn't want to talk about the record much over the past few months.
“I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself and listen to the media or anybody else about getting shutouts,” he said, adding, “the guys in front of me helped me out big-time today.”
It looked pretty clearly like it was going to be RSL's night when, in the 11th minute, diminutive forward Joao Plata — all 5-foot-2 of him — scored his 10th goal of the season on a header. It was the first time he'd done that this season.
Just two minutes later, RSL midfielder Javier Morales put the ball between the legs of a DC defender and Chris Schuler — all 6-foot-4 of him — put the ball in the net. It was the first time he'd scored a regular-season goal in 52 games, dating all the way back to Sept. 3, 2011.
But Schuler wasn't finished. In the 24th minute, Morales put the ball in front of the goal on a corner kick and it was Schuler's turn to use his head, giving RSL an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
In 11 minutes, the big defender doubled the number of regular-season goals he's scored in five seasons in Salt Lake.
Shutout No. 113 may have been one of Rimando's easiest. DCU had few chances throughout the match, and Rimando didn't have to make a save until the 70th minute. His second came in the 86th minute.
This despite the fact that RSL were playing without their two starting outside backs. Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert both missed the game because of yellow-card accumulation on controversial time-wasting cards called a week earlier in Colorado, and Abdoulie Mansally and Carlos Salcedo stepped in to shore up the defense.
The best bit of luck DCU had came in the first half, when Eddie Johnson was yellow carded for taking RSL's Salcedo down from behind. RSL wanted a red after Johnson kicked the ball at Salcedo after the whistle with the defender down on the ground.
With the win, Real Salt Lake improve to 10-4-9 (39 points) and move into first place in the Western Conference ahead of Seattle and into a tie for the lead in the Supporters' Shield race with Kansas City, at least temporarily.
RSL face Club Tijuana on Tuesday in a friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium, and then host Seattle on Saturday
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