This Day in RSL History will look back at events from Utah Soccer’s past. Most of the time this article covers events from each week, but “This Day in RSL History” is occasionally used to cover significant events.”
So on this day, November 22nd, we celebrate RSL’s historic MLS Cup win over the LA Galaxy in Seattle. Where were you when it happened? Share your stories below.
You can view the highlights, or the RSL team interview feature below.
My family had followed RSL far removed from the action in the Southern corner of Utah. The early years were bleak trying to get news with very limited TV coverage on the few times they were on national broadcasts. We were elated to follow the entire season in 2009, and when they made the playoffs we eagerly awaited the next game. We reveled with the defeat of the Supporter’s Shield winners Columbus Crew, and clung to our seats during the PK shootout vs Chicago Fire. Then came the big one. MLS Cup against the Galaxy.
Looking back from 11 years on, I honestly can’t say I remember much from the game except for the shootout at the end - I recall more now after watching the highlights. The intervening years had tempered most of it to just a fond memory, but the PK’s will stand vividly with David Beckham calmly netting his, Landon Donovan apparently trying for a field goal, Kyle Beckerman looking confident, but having his shot saved. Nick Rimando once again making saves he had no business doing, an injured Andy Williams having his shot saved to once again turn the tables in LA’s favor; and finally Robbie Russel putting the winning goal in the corner after sending Josh Saunders the wrong way and falling to his knees before getting dog-piled by the rest of the team. We couldn’t stop celebrating with them.
When the MLS Cup made the tour of Utah a few months later, I took the day off work to take my kids. We only wish that some of the players could have joined the tour, but having Leo kick around a ball and getting to hoist the cup was priceless.
It was only my first year as a season ticket holder, and I had only been to a handful of games before the 2009 season. My buddy Rob and I had gone to a couple away games — the Colorado game in 2009, and even the MLS Cup in 2008 when we bought tickets prematurely, but still went even though RSL didn’t make it that year. The trip to the 2009 MLS Cup in Seattle will always be one of my favorites of all-time. I mean, of course it was — we won the cup!
It was a crazy weekend. I was in a band and we had a show booked in Utah on November 21st, the night before the game. We played the show with the intent of leaving right after to drive straight through the night to Seattle. So, after we wrapped everything up, six of us die-hard RSL fans piled into our band van and left for Seattle around 2:00 AM. We drove through some crazy weather, and once it got too snowy I opted out of driving and tried to sleep in the back so if we got in a wreck, I wouldn’t see it coming. Rob’s the one who got us through the craziest stretch of snowy weather leading into Seattle, thankfully.
We ended up getting to then-Qwest Field sometime in the afternoon, parked the van, and walked toward the stadium, through all the festivities including an unexpected Third Eye Blind concert in the parking lot. The game itself was electric for us, even though we were surrounded by fans who really didn’t have a horse in the race. Unfortunately we didn’t get to sit with a big group of away supporters. It was still nice, though, because it felt like the majority of Sounders fans at the game were rooting for RSL since they all seemed to have a personal vendetta against the Galaxy.
The penalty shootout — what an experience. Our seats were close to the top row on the end behind the goal where the penalties were being kicked. I remember vividly Landon Donovan sending his shot way over the bar. It seemed like he missed it by about 50 feet at the time, but I’m sure I’ve exaggerated it in my head by now. As soon as Robbie Russell sent his shot in and fell to his knees, our entire group went ballistic. What a feeling! We stayed after the game for a while to celebrate with other RSL fans who made the trip and made our way down to the front to celebrate the team lifting the trophy. Super happy to be one of the many RSL fans with a similar story who got to enjoy that whole experience, and I can’t wait for championship number two someday.