Nick Rimando was in the Giant buying wrapping paper when he got the call from his agent, who said he'd been traded to Real Salt Lake.
Not that it was any great shock. He'd asked for a trade, after all. There were all sorts of rumors. He thought Kansas City and New York were his most likely destinations, but Salt Lake was high on his wish list, since his sister-in-law and her husband and their two daughters live there, just a few blocks from RSL's stadium. But anyhow, he had gotten back from Ben Olsen's Jamaican wedding, where everything was beautiful and where he pledged not to drink another Red Stripe for two years or so, and now he was in the Giant buying wrapping paper on a lovely Monday morning when he got the call from his agent, who needed to know whether Nicky would object to going to Salt Lake.
"I was like, 'Whoa,'" Nicky said. "I was like, 'No man, we want to go."
So that was that. He stayed in the aisle of the Giant for about 30 minutes yesterday morning, making phone calls, talking to his wife and to DCU President Kevin Payne. By the afternoon it was all over the Internets. Nicky's contract with MLS expires at the end of the year, but he said he has "a good feeling" that he and his agent will work out a new deal with the league. He's already talked to his sister-in-law about where to look for houses in Salt Lake. And so, just weeks after shooting up into Bog superstardom, Nick will leave D.C.
I called Jeremy, aka Two Thirds, aka Dos Tres, one of the Water Warriors, to see if he had heard the news.
"Aw, man. That sucks. Wow," Dos Tres said. "That's pretty crazy. I have to call the other warriors. I'm just gonna be like, 'I was looking forward to stalking him again in the springtime.'"
Dos Tres, a very casual soccer fan, knew that Freddy was gone. He didn't realize Nicky was also part of the deal. Kind of weird the way Nicky became almost an afterthought in what one Utah columnist called the biggest trade in state history. We're talking, after all, about a goalie who won an MLS championship two years ago and is still only 27 years old, and now he's in the "oh yeah, D.C. also traded..." category because he happens to have been packaged with Freddy.
"I expected that," Nicky said with a laugh. "Freddy's a big name. People that know soccer know that it's not just me being thrown in [as] some candy."
Jacqui, his wife, has already talked to her boss about possibly being transferred to Utah so that she can remain in sales. They might keep their Northern Virginia house, the one the water warriors slept outside, and try to rent it out. Nicky said he doesn't exactly feel relief, but he's glad that he'll get a chance to compete for playing time again. He said he'd miss the fans and his teammates, and that after five years in this area he'll be saying goodbye to a ton of friends, but that he knows the business well enough that he never expected to end his career in D.C. And he said maybe a radio station in Utah will run a water wars promotion at some point. You never know.
"I know the business and I know it's hard to stay in one place and play your whole career, so I think this is a step up in my career. I want to play as long as I can, and if I'm not playing here I need to go somewhere else and keep developing," he said. "Another adventure, and I think it's time to move on."
Speaking as someone who followed him around for three consecutive days while five guys with squirt guns squatted in his bushes and interrogated his friends and followed his car and slept in front of his house, all of which prompted nothing but smiles and a few frantic, near-tragic moments in Georgetown, I can only say this: The Goose will be missed.
"There's not too many other professional athletes out there you could ask to do something like that," Dos Tres agreed. "Definitely sorry to see him go."