You know that old saying that ends with, “…and miles to go before I sleep?”
Poet Robert Frost may have been talking about walking around on a snowy evening, but that’s precisely how Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando felt after he was left off of the 2011 MLS All-Star team.
Left out in the cold, with nowhere to go, and not certainly New York City. He has stayed quiet about the snub, and his head coach Jason Kreis is doing all the talking to the media, but you have to think that somewhere, Rimando is beyond boiling.
For starters, the two players he was glossed over for are new to Major League Soccer. One is a grizzled veteran of many world leagues in Faryd Mondragon of Philadelphia, who has played in soccer hot spots like Koln FC, Deportivo Cali and even at Galatasaray in Turkey before coming to MLS.
The other was literally and figuratively speaking, a major surprise to all who saw it, and he was Houston’s Tally Hall, a Tim Howard lookalike who is big in stature, not like Rimando. Hall played two years in Denmark before coming over here.
Naturally, it was Hall, not Mondragon, who received the most complaints from Kreis, and others, who voiced their disappointment in a player like Hall, a league rookie, getting the nod over Rimando, a proven veteran. (Hey, maybe whoever did this thought Wayne Rooney can’t shoot around Hall as easily.)
What has to be so maddening to these same folks is that Rimando has been a member of the U.S. senior national team, the same team that Hall aspires to play on but doesn’t (he’s had his minutes with the U.S. Under-23 team).
The only reason that anyone can think of as to why Rimando was snubbed is that he let in three goals in second half play in the 2010 All-Star Game, a game in which he was a halftime substitute for L.A. Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
That said, the score was 2-0 and clearly turning into a Manchester United blowout even before then All-Star coach Bruce Arena gave the nod to Rimando.
What’s more is that Ricketts was also left off this year’s All-Star team, but that had more to do with him battling an ulna fracture, so named for the bone extending from the elbow to the wrist opposite the thumb.
As confusing as that injury sounds, and it doesn’t feel good, being left off of an All-Star team has to be irritating to a guy like Rimando who is currently ranked second in MLS in goals allowed per game (0.75), just behind Ricketts.
So to many, the two best goalkeepers were left off the All-Star team, though neither performed particularly well against Man U last year.
The man responsible for the snub is New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe, this year’s All-Star manager. The rest of the blame goes to Major League Soccer itself for not recognizing that Rimando, who has long been one of MLS’ brightest stars, deserves to be on the league’s biggest stage.
While it’s still possible that Rimando could be named to the inactive roster–as fellow RSL star Kyle Beckerman was last year–it is merely a slap in the face to him, and to a team that has given MLS, and the CONCACAF region in general, so much to cheer about over the past year.
Perhaps Backe saw Rimando in goal as too much of one team; after all, defender Jamison Olave and Beckerman, a midfielder, were already named to the 22-man roster.
However, New York has four players in the game, Los Angeles four also. And so, the question must be asked…Are MLS’ best truly being represented in this All-Star game?
One could surely make an All-Star case for RSL forward Fabian Espindola, who is currently on a torrid pace for goals (six), as well as midfielder Will Johnson and defender Nat Borchers for their leadership.
RSL must be a team that scares people, particularly opposing coaches. When it plays at its best, it’s hard for anyone in MLS, let alone CONCACAF, to defeat.
And maybe fear is the common denominator shared by those who made the decision to keep Rimando out, but by doing so, they may have awakened the sleeping giant of a team aiming for respect any way it can get it.