Real Salt Lake: Top 10 Moments Of The Decade
SANDY, Utah – There have been a number of memorable moments from the past decade for Real Salt Lake fans, from deep MLS Cup and CONCACAF Champions League runs to big signings and the introduction of a new franchise.
Although there has not been an MLS Championship Cup brought back to Utah this decade or a CONCACAF Championship, the decade has been memorable for different reasons.
A new owner funded a new training facility as well as continued development into the youth academy. Dell Loy Hansen was also the catalyst behind the Utah Royals’ existence within the state.
Here are the best club moments of this decade – ranked.
10. Monarchs Cup Champions 2019
Despite finishing fourth in the regular season with a 16-8-10 record, the Real Monarchs went on to win the USL Championship for the first time in club history.
The Monarchs, who were only founded five years ago in 2014, accomplished this feat under then-interim head coach Jamison Olave. He was later rewarded for his success by being named the full-time manager on November 20, 2019.
The Monarchs beat both the LA Galaxy II and Tacoma Defiance 5-0 during 2019, it was their largest margin of victory for the season.
Douglas Martinez (who appeared for Real Salt Lake on occasion) scored 17 goals for the Monarchs despite only appearing in 25 games.
Maikel Chang scored 15 goals whilst playing in 28 matches. Although, Chang, did lead the team with 8 assists.
The man between the sticks for the Monarchs was David Ochoa, the young American finished 2019 with 69 saves while achieving 4 clean sheets.
9. Beating LAFC in opening Playoff Round of 2018 – Damir Kreilach crane kick
Real Salt Lake had no business beating LAFC in the opening round of the playoffs at Banc of California Stadium after they barely scraped into the playoffs as the sixth seed. However, RSL found a way to karate kick themselves into the second round and eliminated the third seed while doing so.
The game, which is remembered for the brilliance of Damir Kreilach, will go down as one of the more exciting 90 minutes of soccer in recent memory. A total of five goals were scored in the 3-2 nailbiter that left RSL fans ecstatic.
Kreilach ended with a brace after scoring in the 21st and 58th minutes. Arguably the most famous goal in recent RSL memory came when Kreilach scored the ‘Krane-kick’ in the 58th minute.
His second goal came after two consecutive LAFC goals. The final two goals were scored by RSL with the game-winner occurring in the 69th when Jefferson Savarino’s shot deflected off the body of LAFC center-back Walker Zimmerman and found the back of the net.
It was the first MLS Playoff game in LAFC’s short history. Fortunately, the result went in the way of the visiting team.
8. 2014 World Cup USMNT Run – Kyle Beckerman played a big role
Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando were both selected to represent the United States in the 2014 World Cup, hosted by Brazil. Unfortunately, Nick Rimando never saw the pitch and sat on the bench behind incumbent starter Tim Howard.
However, Kyle Beckerman started at the defensive midfielder position for every one of the United States group matches against Germany, Portugal, and Ghana.
Jürgen Klinsmann then elected to bench Beckerman for their do-or-die match against Belgium in the Round of 16. The United States had its World Cup run cut short at the hands of Belgium as they lost 2-1.
Regardless, Beckerman’s extensive group stage playing time was a sight to behold for RSL fans and the state of Utah. He represented the community and his family well.
7. Big signings – Albert Rusnak, Damir Kreilach, Jefferson Savarino
A number of big signings have taken place this decade, including the likes of Albert Rusnak, Jefferson Savarino, Damir Kreilach, Luis Gil and, Alvaro Saborio.
All of the players listed above have made monumental impacts to the club and have shaped the club into the powerhouse it has become today.
Alvaro Saborio is the clubs all-time leading goal scorer with 63 over 123 matches.
Albert Rusnak has played in 94 matches and counting while adding 28 goals and 26 assists in his three years with the club.
Jefferson Savarino has attracted the attention from European clubs in his short time with RSL. The young Venezuelan debuted against the New England Revolution in 2017 and has gone on to play 87 matches while scoring 22 goals and assisting on 21 other occasions.
Kyle Beckerman has captained Real Salt Lake the entire decade after taking over the armband duties in 2008.
Nick Rimando spent the entire decade in between the sticks for RSL prior to hanging the boots up following the 2019 season.
6. Real Salt Lake Broke The MLS Home Unbeaten Record In 2011
It all started on June 6, 2009, when RSL drew the Colorado Rapids 1-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Twenty-nine home games later, RSL lost its first game at Rio Tinto Stadium at the hands of the Seattle Sounders.
The 29 game stretch ranks as the second-best home unbeaten record in Major League Soccer, only behind the Houston Dynamo who from July 9, 2011, to April 28, 2013, went one up on RSL and notched 30 games unbeaten at home.
Regardless, the 29 game stretch that RSL was able to put together was more than impressive. Rio Tinto Stadium continues to be a fortress for RSL, the altitude and home crowd play big roles in helping the home team pick up many points.
5. 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League Final Run
Real Salt Lake competed in Group A of 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League, along with former MLS club Toronto FC as well as Panamanian club Arabe Unido and Liga MX power Cruz Azul.
RSL ended atop the group, qualifying for the quarterfinals after comfortably getting through group play.
RSL took on Colombus Crew in the quarterfinals where they were able to beat the Crew 4-1. Following the dismantling of the Crew, the Claret and Cobalt then beat Costa Rican club Saprissa where they were able to get over the line 3-2 in a nailbiter.
Unfortunately, the CONCACAF final did not go in favor of our beloved RSL as they were beaten by LIGA MX giant Monterrey 3-2.
It was the first CONCACAF Championship in Monterrey’s history.
Alvaro Saborio led RSL with eight goals finishing second in the goalscoring tally only behind Cruz Azul’s number nine Javier Orozco.
4. Utah Royals Inaugural Season – Home crowd first game
On the 24 of March 2018, the Utah Royals debuted in the NWSL on the road against the Orlando Pride in a game that ended in a 1-1 draw. In the third minute of the game, Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir scored in the third minute of the game to give the visitors the early lead whilst going down in the Royals record books for the first goal scored in the history of the club.
The first home game was played on April 14, unfortunately, the Royals lost to the Chicago Red Stars in front of a packed 19,203 Rio Tinto Stadium. For women across the state, it was a day of celebration, and for good reason.
In Utah, women’s high school soccer was the second most popular sport played only behind track and field according to a report by the Standard-Examiner.
Laura Harvey was the inaugural head coach, she led her team to a final record of 9-8-7 finishing fifth in the standings and just barely missing out on a playoff birth by two points.
Katie Stengel led the team with six goals, Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir, Christen Press and, Taylor Lytle all ended with two assists apiece.
Captain Becky Sauerbrunn ended the season as the NWSL Defender of the Year whilst also adding an NWSL Best XI selection.
3. 2013 MLS Playoff run
Real Salt Lake finished the 2013 MLS regular season as the second seed in the Western Conference, behind the Portland Timbers who finished one point ahead of RSL.
After beating the LA Galaxy and the Portland Timbers in the Western Conference semifinal and final respectively, the Claret and Cobalt found themselves in the MLS Cup against Sporting Kansas City, also a second seed.
Alvaro Saborio opened the scoring in the 52nd minute only for SKC defender Aurélien Collin to equalize in the 76th minute.
The match went to penalties.
RSL missed their first two penalty kicks while SKC slotted their first two away. Then RSL went on to score their next five and Nick Rimando saved two of SKC’s next five.
Unfortunately, Sebastián Velásquez and Lovel Palmer missed two of RSL’s final three penalties and the Claret and Cobalt surrendered a great opportunity to gather their second MLS Cup.
It was a valiant effort by the playing group and a memory that will go down as one of the greatest moments of the decade for the club, despite the way it ended.
2. New Ownership, New Facilities – Welcome DLH
In October of 2009, Dell Loy Hansen joined the Real Salt Lake ownership group as a minority owner. However, in January 2013, Hansen acquired full ownership of the team.
Since his arrival, the club has transitioned into a breeding ground for admiring soccer professionals. Hansen has spent millions of dollars developing the RSL Academy that has seen multiple young prospects strive in the professional world, including RSL first-team players Aaron Herrera, Justen Glad and David Ochoa.
Hansen funded the building of the Zions Bank Real Academy. Home to the training grounds and facilities of Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals and Real Monarchs while also housing a public school for teenagers to attend and develop their education and athletic development.
The owner has been influential in creating a long term structural solution for the club. With an emphasis on the development of young, aspiring soccer professionals but also catering to the first team needs of Real Salt Lake and the Utah Royals.
The arrival of the Utah Royals was largely due to Hansen’s desire to own a professional women’s franchise.
He is the reason Utah has the Royals today.
1. USWNT World Cup Heroes
During the summer of 2019, the United States Women’s National Team won the FIFA World Cup for the fourth time in eight attempts. They beat the Netherlands in a 2-0 rout after defeating Spain, France, and England throughout the knockout stages in the tournament.
The United States was well represented by the Utah Royals as they claimed three roster spots with defenders Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn and forward Christen Press.
The USWNT was in Group F alongside Thailand, Sweden, and Chile.
Becky Sauerbrunn started six of the seven matches for the United States at center back. Helping the Red, White and Blue secure four shutouts.
Kelley O’Hara ended the tournament with two assists after seeing the pitch in six of the seven matches.
Christen Press predominantly came off the bench for her National Team, however, she was able to notch one goal and one assist.
The team was welcomed back to the States in heroic fashion as they partook in a parade throughout the streets of New York City before quickly flying to Los Angeles for the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards (ESPYS).
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