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This Week in RSL History: RSL in the playoffs, the Texas curse, Kreilach’s new nickname

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RSL’s Texas curse continues, Monarchs get a blowout, RSL’s cup run begins, and Demar Kreilach gets a new nickname.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake Melissa Majchrzak-USA TODAY Sports

This Week in RSL History will look back at events from Utah Soccer’s past. At times this will also include a breakout “This Day in RSL History” to cover significant events, while The Week will give more of an overview of events to allow all of us a chance to say, “hey, I remember that!”

We continue with events that occurred this week over the years, Oct. 26–Nov. 1. Do you remember any of these events?

October 26

  • 2016: LAG vs RSL – This MLS Playoff Knockout round featured the Los Angeles Galaxy, who had entered the playoffs comfortably sitting in third place, and Real Salt Lake who barely slid into the knockouts by a narrow margin. Alan Gordon opened the scoring for the Galaxy, by Joao Plata converted a PK to equalize shortly afterward. Emmanuel Boateng sealed the Galaxy win with a brace before the half ended. RSL ends the season with several questions to answer before the next year.
  • 2019: Monarchs vs Orange County – The Monarchs were riding a 5 game unbeaten streak going into the USL playoffs, while Orange County finished 2 points below them. The Utah side had been in the playoffs the previous two seasons, but were always knocked out in the first game, they were hoping this year would be a change of fortunes. It’s safe to say that fans did not expect a 6-2 blowout win!

October 27

  • 2012: RSL vs VAN – The final regular season game for 2012. RSL had clinched their berth, but were unsure of where they would end up on the table as anywhere between second and fourth place was possible depending on results from games that would be played the next day. Their opponents, Vancouver Whitecaps; were desperately clinging to the final playoff spot and needed at least a point to keep it. The sold-out crowd at the RioT were likely surprised to see the lineup with most of the regular starters on the bench, while the Whitecaps fielded their best available. In spite of numerous shots on both sides, the game remained deadlocked at the final whistle.

October 29

  • 2011: RSL vs SEA - Second place Seattle Sounders faced third place RSL in the first leg of the MLS Playoffs. RSL was in a serious slump with four losses and two ties to end the season, so the Sounders had every reason to be confident. Their fortunes changed when RSL quickly established dominance from the start and didn’t let up; the Sounders’ defense was up to the task for most of the first half, but Alvaro Saborio finally broke the game open in the 41st minute; the pressure didn’t end after the half with Sabo netting his second goal, followed by the dagger by Ned Grabavoy.

October 30th

  • 2010: FCD vs RSL - In the first leg of the MLS Playoffs, RSL sitting in 2nd place faced 3rd place FC Dallas. RSL was unbeaten in 14 games, and showing a great deal of confidence since they’d beaten Dallas just two weeks earlier; however their last loss back in July was on the road - also vs Dallas. Everything looked rosy for RSL as Fabian Espindola opened the scoring in the 5th minute, but it would not last. Dallas equalized just before the half, then a pair of red cards, one for each side would further complicate matters. FCD would seal the win in the 88th minute, and both teams would head to Utah for the 2nd leg.

October 31

  • 2009: RSL vs CLB - The first leg of the 2009 Eastern Conf. playoff saw the Supporters’ Shield winner Columbus Crew, facing playoff wildcard RSL who had slipped into the final playoff spot thanks to a draw vs Colorado Rapids on the final day. Both sides traded shots, but the keeper’s did their jobs well and the score remained 0-0 at the half. Robbie Finley finally put the home side on the board in the 88th minute to give the underdogs a much needed cushion going into the 2nd leg.

November 1

  • 2008: RSL vs Chivas USA - This was RSL’s very first MLS Playoff match. Only four years removed since both teams joined MLS, with different trajectories. Both had a terrible first season, but while RSL languished in the league basement for two more years, Chivas made the postseason. RSL had the better chances in the first half, but the game remained scoreless at the half largely thanks to the Chivas GK Zac Thornton. The home side continued to pile on the pressure through the second half, and finally found the breakthrough in the 90th minute thanks to a Yura Movsisyan backheel.
  • 2014: RSL vs Los Angeles Galaxy - The first leg of the playoffs once again had familiar foes meeting each other. While RSL applied the pressure, the Galaxy looked to score on breakouts; both had good chances in the first half, but neither could find the net. It would be safe to say that the LAG keeper Jaime Penado was the only reason the game ended 0-0.
  • 2018: Los Angeles FC vs RSL: Once again RSL were heavy underdogs facing the 3rd place LAFC. RSL would draw first blood in the 21st minute, but the home side would equalize just before the half. LAFC came back with a vengeance after the half, taking the lead in the 54th. It would not last as 4 minutes later Damir Kreilach would make the most memorable strike in RSL history channeling Ralph Macchio and inspiring the new nickname “Karate Kreilach”. RSL would go on to shatter the home team’s dreams 3-2.