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Things we learned from MLS Week 28

Focusing on individual achievements more than usual this week.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

1. Nick Rimando might just have pulled off the Save of the Year, but he still probably isn't MLS's Goalkeeper of the Year

Nick Rimando made some very good saves in Week 28. We'll see if this one snags Save of the Week and makes its way into the end-of-season Save of the Year competition.

Week 28 was another occasion on which Rimando reminded the MLS-watching public that he is a special 'keeper. It was also a week in which he advanced a little closer to the all-time league records that appear to be his destiny. There was no clean sheet for him this week, but Rimando already has the all-time MLS regular season record for shutouts: 122 (and counting).

He played his 390th regular season game: second-most (by a lot) on the list of all-time Games Played and Games Started. And he edged a little further above 35,000 minutes played (35,253) - another list on which he is second. Rimando trails Kevin Hartman in all three categories. But not by much. If he plays another season or two, the 36-year-old should comfortably set new records in all the major MLS regular season appearance categories.

But he has never been named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Of the four MLS 'keepers to have logged over 300 career regular season appearances (Hartman, Joe Cannon and Jon Busch are the other three), Rimando is the only one never to have been named the league's top 'keeper.

It may ultimately be the most curious statistic of his stellar career in MLS. He is not a favorite to win the award this season - or at least, he shouldn't be - either. As his playing days wind down, Rimando has become something of a regular call-up to USMNT camps, and that has an impact on availability for league play. This week saw his 20th start for Real Salt Lake this season; the team has played 28 games. If Rimando plays every league match remaining for RSL in 2015, he'll still have missed eight games: almost a quarter of the season.

And his team isn't very good. This week's win raised RSL off the bottom of the Western Conference...to ninth place. It is six points off the playoff pace in the West with six games left: not an insurmountable deficit, but it will not be an easy task to make the post-season.

Rimando's Goals Against Average is excellent in 2015: 1.05. But Bill Hamid (0.95) has done better to this point in the season, from the exact same number of appearances. Hamid's D.C. United is a better team, so he also has more wins from his 20 games played (nine to Rimando's seven). And Hamid's Save Percentage is phenomenal: 79%. Anything over 70% is very good in MLS; close to 80% sustained over 20 games is extraordinary.

But the front-runner for this year's Goalkeeper of the Year must be Vancouver's David Ousted. He has played every minute of every league game for the Whitecaps so far this season. He's currently holding a 1.00 Goals Against Average - second only to Hamid of the 'keepers who have played significant minutes this season. Ousted's Save Percentage is a respectable 72%. He is second to Portland's Adam Kwarasey for total shutouts (11 to the Timbers man's 12). And he has saved three penalties so far this year - the same number as Rimando (who has saved 36% of the penalties he's faced in MLS regular season play in his career: a remarkable achievement).

It's hard to make a statistical case for Rimando at the moment. If you want to give him some credit for back-stopping an all-too-often losing team, you perhaps ought to consider Clint Irwin's work for the Colorado Rapids - he has played more games than Rimando, faced more shots, made more saves at a better overall save percentage and racked up more clean sheets.

It is a point of fact that Rimando is one of the better, perhaps even the best, 'keeper in MLS. Certainly, there are not many teams in the league for whom he would not start. And you would question those who left him on the bench.

But this year - like every other year of his remarkable career - looks likely to end without him adding MLS Goalkeeper of the Year to his many deserved accolades. Unless he does some very special things in RSL's remaining games.

2. Drew Moor joins MLS 300 club; room for one more this year

At the start of this season, 26 players had registered 300 or more career MLS regular season appearancesIn Week 28, the Colorado Rapids' Drew Moor became the 33rd player in MLS history to hit 300 career regular season games played.

It is still a landmark achievement for any MLS player. But more than 20% of the group entered the 300 club this season: Bobby Boswell (now at 320 career regular season appearances), Nat Borchers (313), Chad Marshall (310), Jon Busch (304), Justin Mapp (303), Edson Buddle (302), and now Moor (300). The 300 club is not quite the exclusive place it used to be.

There is one more player who might gain entry this season: Chicago Fire's Jeff Larentowicz has 295 career regular season appearances; the Fire has six games left to play.

3. Scoring 20 goals in MLS is still a big deal, though it might not be for much longer

Kei Kamara scored twice for Columbus Crew against Philadelphia Union to lead his team to a win in Week 28 and himself to 20 goals for the season to date.

It is a big deal for Kamara, whose previous MLS single-season scoring high was 11 goals for Sporting Kansas City in 2012. And it is a big deal for MLS: Kamara is only the 16th player in league history to score 20 goals in a single regular season.

MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle provides the detail:

(Source: mlssoccer.com)

Interestingly, the last four seasons have seen the 20-goal scorer become somewhat more common in MLS. After three players achieved the feat in 1996, just six more managed to reach the mark in 15 seasons. In the last four years, seven players (including Kamara) have hit 20 goals or more - and two of them, Chris Wondolowski and Bradley Wright-Phillips, have equaled the all-time single-season scoring record.

There may yet be at least one more 20-goal scorer this year: Sebastian Giovinco has 17 to his name with seven games left to play.

Scoring 20 goals a season in MLS is still impressive, but it's also increasingly the minimum to be in contention for the Golden Boot.

4. The Supporters' Shield is officially out of reach of four teams

Let the record show that in Week 28 of the 2015 MLS regular season, we finally got our first set of clear-cut eliminations from the chase for league titles. Vancouver Whitecaps' mid-week win over Colorado pitched them to the front of the Supporters' Shield race with 48 points. That officially snuffed out Orlando's remote chance of winning the league: it's maximum points yield from this season is 47 points. OCSC celebrated the lifting of the burden of not-quite-being-out-of-contention by beating Sporting Kansas City.

By the end of Week 28, three more teams - Philadelphia Union, NYCFC, and Chicago Fire - were eliminated from Shield contention. This was the beginning of the end of the 2015 season.

Probability and possibility is starting to progress to fact and certainty. Week 29 will likely bring another wave of Shield-race eliminations (Colorado, RSL and Houston are almost there), and perhaps the first set of playoff-clinching results (DC, Columbus, New England and RBNY can all entertain hope of confirming post-season qualification in Week 29).

The season's endgame is here.

5. New England is doing that thing again

Peril of late publication: The Guardian offers commentary on this theme, as does MLS's podcast Extra Time Radio.

Bad news for the New York Red Bulls, who next play the Revolution in New England: the Revs beat Toronto FC 3-1 in Week 28 to extend their winning streak to five consecutive games.

That is tied with FC Dallas for the longest string of victories in MLS so far this season. The Revs also own the current 2015 league record for the longest unbeaten streak: nine games, set between March 21 and May 16. When New England is good, it is very, very good.

And when it is bad, it is horrid. The Revs co-own the 2015 record for the league's worst losing streak too: five consecutive games (shared with Seattle Sounders).

The Revs are hot right now, which is troubling news for RBNY. More troubling is the realization that New England is following a pattern it established last year. In 2014, the Revs had the league's worst losing streak: eight consecutive games from May 31 to July 26. But they compensated for that with the joint-best run of consecutive wins in MLS: five matches, shared with Seattle. Unlike the Sounders, however, whose five-game streak ran from April 12 to May 7, the Revs won five in a row twice: between April 26 and May 24, and between August 23 and September 13.

In 2014, New England was the hottest team in the league for a while, then the absolute worst, and then the hottest again. It ended up winning the Eastern Conference playoff final and having a crack at MLS Cup. The Revs didn't get hot enough quickly enough to with the East in the regular season, but they did take the post-season prize.

In 2015, it would seem the Revs are following the same pattern (though they are in contention for the Eastern Conference title, possibly even the Shield if results start to go their way around the league). RBNY and the rest of the East is on notice.