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Sandy • On the day Real Salt Lake players went through their 2016 exit meetings with the team's front office, a report surfaced that the longest-tenured player at RSL is a primary target for an incoming MLS expansion franchise.
Sports Illustrated reporter Grant Wahl reported on Wednesday that Atlanta United plans on pursuing RSL's 37-year-old goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who has spent the last decade between the posts for RSL. Rimando, the owner of several MLS records including shutouts, games played and victories for a goalkeeper, has one year remaining on his contract that will pay him $420,000 guaranteed, Wahl reported. That number makes Rimando the second-highest paid goalkeeper in the league behind Colorado's Tim Howard.
The report from Wahl states that Rimando is close to former UCLA teammate and U.S. men's national team starter Carlos Bocanegra, who is now the technical director at Atlanta United. Rimando just wrapped up his 17th season in MLS in which he has started 424 regular-season matches.
Prior to Wahl's report, Rimando spoke to the local media following his exit meeting. He was asked if he believes the aging RSL core still has another playoff run in it.
"Yeah, I do," Rimando said. "I believe in myself. That's the only person I can talk about. The coaches have their opinions, but when I look in these guys' eyes, and if you're talking about just the veterans, I can see they still have fight in them, I can see they have the ability to play at this level, so it comes down to us being a team out there and fighting together and winning these games."
RSL general manager Craig Waibel is scheduled to meet with the media Thursday where this report will certainly be a topic of conversation.
The injections into his left heel that helped manage the discomfort of a severe bone bruise continuously became the most painful feeling ever felt for RSL forward Yura Movsisyan. The 29-year-old striker who finalized a full-time move to RSL last month dealt with the lingering pain of the bruised heel the last two months of the season.
"I kept playing on it [and] getting injections always pushes you a week back, so I'm hoping to take off four-to-five weeks just completely off, let this thing heal," he said. "It's a bone bruise. It's very painful as much as I didn't really show it."
Maund's offseason recovery
RSL center back Aaron Maund said he's closing in on a return to feeling 100-percent healthy, but reiterated that his recovery timeline while dealing with a healing foot fracture is something he's still getting used to.
"I've been sprinting and doing all that stuff 100 percent," he said. "So far it's just my recovery isn't the same as it was, so the recovery period is really what I'm working on, being able to run really hard and the next day not feeling anything. That's not quite there yet, but it keeps getting better. I've noticed markable changes in a positive way over the past couple weeks. I'm still looking more of that."
Maund, who started 20 games in 2016, missed the last 11 games of the year after suffering the injury in training the first week of August.
Wingert hopes to return
When Chris Wingert was told he'd be placed on waivers by New York City FC in January, the only other fit he wanted was his former club, Real Salt Lake. The 34-year-old defender returned to RSL during preseason and ended up starting 18 regular-season games in 2016.
The outside back from Long Island voiced his desire to return in 2017.
"Absolutely," Wingert said. "It's a good soccer situation for me. I have a life out here, even though I still call New York home. While I'm playing, and for the time being, I certainly do have a life out here and people I care about out here, so I'd like to be back. We'll see if we can make that happen."