New to Real Salt Lake or simply trying to refresh yourself on the team? We're counting down Real Salt Lake's biggest moments in its still-short history.
And yeah, we spoiled one of the top five moments — what would you expect?
- Real Salt Lake is founded by Dave Checketts
- Rio Tinto Stadium is announced, securing the team's presence in Utah for years to come
- RSL makes it to its first MLS Cup after beating Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference championship match
5. January 2013: Dell Loy Hansen buys Real Salt Lake
One of the more controversial happenings in Real Salt Lake's history, Utah real estate mogul Dell Loy Hansen took full ownership of RSL, Rio Tinto Stadium, and ESPN 700 in January 2013, and that's something that's still enraging RSL fans more than three years later.
Hansen bought the club from Dave Checketts, who founded Real Salt Lake — and that's always going to be something that's hard to work past for some. But when one of the highest items on popular lists of grievances is about buying a 'big screen' (that massive south-end video board) instead of investing in players (although big-money spending on Burrito Martinez and Joao Plata would indicate otherwise), it's clear that this isn't going to be a moment we'll soon forget.
4. December 2013: Jason Kreis leaves Real Salt Lake
This one's not really fair, because there was no one definitive moment at which Jason Kreis decided to leave. There was one moment in which he announced it, but the writing had been on the wall. After rejecting contract negotiations with Hansen in early 2013 after he took full ownership, Kreis flew to Manchester to meet with New York City FC staff in July. In December, days after (spoiler alert) losing the 2013 MLS Cup final, Kreis announced his departure.
This was a big one: Kreis was Checketts' man, and there was (likely substantiated) talk that he and Hansen didn't really get along. He was RSL's first successful coach, he was an original, and he defined the club. The turmoil after he left hasn't really slowed down.
3. December 2013: RSL loses 2013 MLS Cup Final
The second-biggest heartbreak on this list (or third, if you're particularly a Kreis fan) came on December 7, 2013, when Real Salt Lake lost in the 2013 MLS Cup final to Sporting Kansas City on the 10th penalty of the longest shootout in memory. Names aren't important here, but there have been few moments so dramatic as this. From the drama of the 90 minutes, the frozen motion of extra time, and the strains of "Believe" that came through after one particular penalty miss — there's simply nothing that's quite like this one.
2. April 2011: Real Salt Lake loses 2011 CCL by a hair
This is the biggest, highest-profile loss Real Salt Lake has suffered. After making it to the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League final, then going to Monterrey and securing an extremely respectable 2-2 result, the team dropped 1-0 at home.
It's hard to talk too much about this one — it's still heartbreaking to this day. It makes the 2013 MLS Cup loss look downright fun. Nothing should do that.
1. November 2009: Real Salt Lake wins 2009 MLS Cup
Real Salt Lake's penalty reputation starts this year: Two penalty wins, some exemplary saves by Nick Rimando, and one MLS Cup. The team hasn't won it since, but as we discussed above, they've been back. In some sense, the ghost of that 2009 team still haunts Rio Tinto Stadium, except several key players are around, and none of them are actually ghosts.
Still, this is the measuring stick by which all other Real Salt Lake teams will be judged. Thankfully, our biggest moment is a positive one, and the team should be happy to accept that relative marker.