- The Washington Times - Friday, September 16, 2005

D.C. United boasts the third-best defense in MLS, and Nick Rimando’s goalkeeping is a big reason why. Now in his sixth season, the former UCLA keeper is having his best year.

“Goalkeeping is the toughest position to play,” Rimando said. “It’s definitely the position where you have to be the most consistent.”

And consistency certainly has been Rimando’s trademark in 2005. After being benched for one game in April, Rimando has been solid all season. Going into tonight’s game against the visiting Colorado Rapids (9-12-4, 31 points), Rimando is tied for the league lead with 10 shutouts in 26 games.

“You know, those 10 shutouts could be 15 or 20,” Rimando said. “It’s the lack of concentration that fails us with the late goals, and that’s something we need to get rid of come playoff time.”

United (13-9-5, 44 points) has a defense that was expected to struggle this year after captain and All-Star central defender Ryan Nelsen moved to the English Premier League. While United seems to have survived without Nelsen, Rimando’s backline has given him a number of problems. Rookie central defender Bobby Boswell has put three own-goals past Rimando.

“Those are tough to take, especially when you lose on those goals,” Rimando said.

Like any MLS keeper, Rimando would love a shot at playing for the national team.

“I’ve got three caps and three shutouts, which is not bad,” Rimando proudly recounts, concerning his brief career so far with the U.S. national team.

At 26, which is still young for a goalie, Rimando still hopes to wear a U.S. team jersey. With the American team qualified for the World Cup, he says it’s possible for more MLS goalies to be noticed by U.S. team coach Bruce Arena.

“Bruce has done well giving players a shot, and I hope my shot comes, too,” Rimando said.

In another era, Rimando probably would be a regular on the national team. Instead, he is just one of many goalies hoping to catch Arena’s attention.

“That’s the thing,” Rimando admitted. “America breeds the best keepers in the world.”

The Rapids arrive at RFK Stadium tonight with Jovan Kirovski, a former U.S. team striker who joined the club from the Los Angeles Galaxy this week.

Walker moves up — Forward Jamil Walker has been promoted to the club’s senior roster, while reserve midfielder Nick Van Sicklen was placed on a senior developmental contract. David Stokes was put on season-ending injured reserve. The club also signed a foreign player whose name will be released once he gets a work visa.

United also signed Stephen deRoux (High Point High School) to replace Stokes on the roster.

Big trip — United will leave Tuesday to take the 5,000-mile, 15-hour journey to Santiago, Chile, for the return leg against Universidad Catolica in the Copa Sudamericana. The teams are tied at 1-1 after Tuesday’s match at RFK.

Youth team — The U.S. under-17 team plays North Korea today in its first game of group play in the world championship in Peru. The Americans play Italy on Tuesday and the Ivory Coast on Friday.

Over the pond — Prince William, grandson of Queen Elizabeth, will become the new president of England’s Football Association. England will bid for the 2018 World Cup. … Less than 30,000 fans turned up to watch EPL champion Chelsea in its midweek Champions League win over Anderlecht at its 42,000-seat stadium. The lack of enthusiasm may have to something do with the price of tickets for England’s top team. Chelsea’s game-day tickets cost between $68 and $109. A Chelsea season ticket costs $1,613.

Rankings — The U.S. team may have qualified for the World Cup and beaten Mexico 2-0 in the process, but it slipped one spot below France to seventh place in FIFA’s monthly rankings. Mexico, which also has earned a World Cup berth, retains the fifth spot. Brazil remains first, followed by the Netherlands, Argentina and the Czech Republic. Spain is No. 8 — ahead of Portugal, Sweden and England, which slipped out of the top 10. Italy is No. 13, while Germany, which plays host to next year’s finals, is 15th.

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