When United and Real Salt Lake face off on Friday (10:30 pm ET, UniMas) at Rio Tinto Stadium, two of the best goalkeepers in MLS will be on display in Bill Hamid and Nick Rimando.
Hamid, well-known for his tremendous athleticism and an uncanny ability to come up with huge saves in big moments, is in fine form since returning from injury at the end of May. The 2014 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year has kept a clean sheet in three of his four games this season, recording 17 saves along the way.
Though Hamid was injured for the beginning of this season, he has looked like his old self since returning to action, keeping a clean sheet in three of his four appearances. He was named to the MLS Team of the Week in Week 15 for his stellar performance against the Houston Dynamo several weeks ago, when his two incredible saves in stoppage time helped preserve a 0-0 draw. Hamid has also been nominated for Etihad Airways Player of the Month.
At just 25 years old, Hamid has already laid the foundations for a great career. But his opposite number on Friday is known as one of the best keepers in MLS history: Nick Rimando. Rimando played for United from 2002 to 2006 before being traded along with to Salt Lake, where he has appeared at least 24 times each season. The seasoned veteran ranks first in MLS history in shutouts with 125, and is near the top for most other goalkeeping records (including second all-time in saves). He has also appeared 21 times for the U.S. national team.
Though RSL’s attack has been firing on all cylinders in recent weeks, the Utah-based side’s defense has been struggling. United have had the reverse problem, maintaining a solid defensive record but at times lacking cohesiveness up front. Both sets of strikers will have their work cut out for them in trying to beat goalkeepers the caliber of Hamid and Rimando. If both are on top of their game, it will take a special moment for the teams to find a breakthrough goal. While last year’s only matchup between the two teams resulted in a 10-goal spectacle, it remains to be seen what type of match Friday night will be.