As we move into a new season with a roster that looks very different than last year, we look back over the five best players in the history of the club.
5 - Kyle Beckerman
Kyle Beckerman may be the most iconic player for Real Salt Lake. His defensive discipline and ability to control the field have made him not only a regular RSL starter for a decade, but a legend in Major League Soccer. He holds the record for all-time MLS regular season appearances by a field player, as well as most fouls committed, which is more of an indication of a long career in a defensive role rather than an aggressive fouler.
He was also a part of the 2014 squad that made it out of the "group of death" during the 2014 World Cup. Beckerman has been the captain of RSL since 2008, made over 250 appearances, and netted 25 goals and 30 assists. It's easy to see the change in the team when Beckerman is not on the field. His dreads and leadership are forever a part of this club.
4 - Jason Kreis
If you're a recent Real Salt Lake fan you know Jason Kreis as a coach. Kreis was the team captain turned coach who, two years after stepping aside as a player to take the reigns as head coach, won the MLS Cup. The team he led was defined by its diamond formation and the team is the star mentality. It's easy to view Kries' time at RSL through the lens of the '09 season, but he was first a player, and he was RSL's first great player. His number, 9, is our only retired number and it says his name and number proudly in Rio Tinto Stadium.
Kries joined Real in our opening year in 2005 as a forward. He'd already made his mark in the league as the 1999 MVP and both FC Dallas (formally Dallas Burn) and RSL's first goal scorer. At Dallas he scored an impressive 91 goals and 65 assists in 247 appearances making him Dallas' all-time leading goal scorer. While at RSL he helped lead the attack, direct the team, and develop Real Salt Lake into a winning team. His talent for seeing the game and leadership took him off the field and into the coach’s box, but his first major contributions to Real were on the field.
3 - Álvaro Saborío
Costa Rican striker Álvaro Saborio joined Real Salt Lake on loan from Sion in March of 2010 and quickly made a 12 goal impact in his first year. He would continue to lead the team in scoring in four out of five of his years with the club and is Real's all time leading goal scorer. His ability to be in the right place at the right time and finish made him a constant goal scoring threat on the field. He scored hat tricks on three separate occasions.
His departure was sudden and seems to have been borne out of conflict with the head coach. Towards the end of his time with RSL, his speed and rate of scoring slowed considerably. He often wouldn't track back to do any defensive work and seemed frustrated on the pitch. Those were genuine complaints for fans, but that shouldn't color his legacy as the club's most potent goal scorer ever.
2 - Javier Morales
The Argentine playmaker is one of the most beloved Real players of all time, as was made clear with his recent departure. Morales first joined RSL in 2007 and led the team in assists (81). His good footwork and vision helped make him one of the most dangerous number tens in Major League Soccer. In his 240 appearances he scored 49 goals, putting him in second place for the club.
Morales could be prone to injury, but his soccer I.Q. helped him develop and control an attack. He wasn't afraid to do defensive work and was a clear leader on the team. Javi was a part of the long time core, along Beckerman, Rimando, Beltran, etc. that built Real into a club that could play great soccer and were always a threat.
1 - Nick Rimando
The Wall of the Wasatch has undoubtedly been instrumental to Real Salt Lake's successes. He holds the record for most career shut outs, appearances, and wins in Major League Soccer. Rimando had two saves in the 2009 MLS Cup final shoot out that helped Real win the cup that year. He's widely accepted as the all time greatest goalkeeper in MLS, as noted by former EPL keeper Tim Howard, and most RSL fans would agree. He has 21 caps for the USMNT, and 11 wins in that time.
Rimando first joined RSL in 2007 in a trade that also brought Freddy Adu to the club. In that time Rimando has made 279 appearances, making him the club leader. He's known for his ability to play with his feet, distribution, and shot stopping, three very desirable traits in a keeper. RSL has been very fortunate to not only had one of the greatest keepers in league history, but keep him for 10 years and counting.