With the beginning of the season just around the corner, it is always great to go back and look at Real Salt Lake’s top five moments in club history.
5. RSL becomes the 12th franchise in the league
July 2004, Real Salt Lake was announced as the newest expansion club in MLS. It came at a time where the soccer fans in Utah craved a team they could watch, cheer and celebrate for as they played at the highest level in the league. Although it was announced in 2004, the inaugural game wasn’t until April 2, 2005. Without the financial backing of then-owner Dave Checketts’ and this announcement, none of the other top five moments for RSL would have happened.
4. Jason Kreis
On Nov. 17, 2004, Real Salt Lake acquired its first player: Jason Kreis. This was easily one of the biggest moments in RSL history. He scored the team’s first goal, and he was the first player in league history to score 100 goals, while he wore the Claret and Cobalt. In 2007, his relentlessness on and off the field helped him get appointed to head coach four games in the season, which sent the team’s success through the roof.
3. 2007 coaching and player acquisition
As mentioned before, Kreis was obtained as RSL head coach at the beginning of the 2007 season. Not only did RSL obtain their most successful coach in team history, but they also obtained many iconic players, like long time team captain Kyle Beckerman, all-time team assist leader Javier Morales, and long time defense staple, Chris Wingert. Top goalscorers in Fabian Espindola and Robbie Findley and, last but not least, MLS’s greatest goalkeeper, Nick Rimando. That team was able to build around many of these core players acquired and help make multiple MLS cup runs.
2. 2013 MLS Cup Run
This one may still be bitter one to remember but, RSL made it to the MLS Cup final in 2013, forcing the game into overtime with a great goal from Alvaro Saborio and an assist from Kyle Beckerman. It came to the final penalty shot — and it was missed by Lovel Palmer. Although the outcome was hard to swallow, Real Salt Lake had a tremendous year. Finishing 2nd in the Western Conference, RSL tallied 16 wins, ten losses and only eight draws.
1. 2009 MLS Champions
With this being the team’s only championship — though we hope it’s certainly not the last one — this has to be the team's best moment. Beating LA Galaxy in penalty shots, RSL brought the MLS Cup to Utah. Although the first half was not their best performance, with David Beckham and Landon Donovan commanding the flow of the game, the second half was a lot better for the Claret and Cobalt. They were sharper, and through Robbie Findley’s equalizing goal, they were able to get to extra time and ultimately win in a penalty shootout.
This was a hard list to come up with because there are so many great moments from RSL. Although these are my top five moments, there are so many more to go. This season, could we have another championship run that may make our top five list?
- CCL 2011 Run and lose
- Rio Tinto Stadium announced
- Harriman facility and academy announced