Real Salt Lake’s 2022 Year In Review

Dec 31, 2022, 4:19 PM


Real Salt Lake celebrated Rubio Rubin's goal in the 48th minute against Portland Timbers at American First Field on October 9, 2022. (Photo by Laura Dearden/Real Salt Lake)

(Photo by Laura Dearden/Real Salt Lake)

SALT LAKE CITY – The 2022 calendar year began with excitement and improved interest for Real Salt Lake which introduced new ownership to the world in January.

New Ownership Ignites Local Community

David Blitzer and Ryan Smith joined Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber at America First Field to conduct an introductory press conference. The news of Blitzer and Smith joining forces brought an incredible amount of optimism to the soccer community of Utah following years of misery under the reign of Dell Loy Hansen.

Shortly after the introduction of Blitzer and Smith, America First Field began seeing upgrades throughout the stadium. Murals were painted on select walls, flags were placed in bins around the stadium, and Damir Kreilach received his own corner alongside legendary midfielder Kyle Beckerman. The stadium showed life, color encapsulated the former bland brick walls and the club began making a significant effort to reinvigorate the local fanbase.

When the season finally began, the renewed optimism was on full display when fans throughout the state flocked to America First Field every other week to watch Real Salt Lake. The club sold out every home game in the 2022 season, the first time in which the club has been able to accomplish this feat.

Midway through the 2022 MLS campaign, the club also announced a significant sponsorship announcement that changed the historical name of the stadium from Rio Tinto Stadium to America First Field following a deal that will last a decade and provide the club close to 100 million dollars.

Shortly after the conclusion of the season, the club announced another major development with the partnership of SeatGeek. The club and its fans will rely on SeatGeek to provide a world-class ticketing experience.

Improvement Required On The Field

On the field, Real Salt Lake endured a season of momentum swings. Under Pablo Mastroeni, Real Salt Lake began the 2022 season in blistering form and quickly rose up the Western Conference standings. However, the opening half of the year took its toll as Damir Kreilach, the 2022 captain, was sidelined with a back injury that ended his year.

At the midway point of the year, Real Salt Lake began to show signs of trouble. Bobby Wood endured an abductor injury that ended his year and the results began to dwindle.

As has so often been the case over the last few years, Real Salt Lake relied on a Decision Day victory to cement its postseason position. Fortunately, the club prevailed beating Portland Timbers 3-1 at home. However, a week later the club failed to capitalize on a 2-0 lead on the road in the opening round of the playoffs against Austin FC and ultimately lost in a penalty shootout.

In conclusion, the off-field growth that the club saw in 2022 was a relief. It appears as though the club is finally making progress in its attempt to reinvigorate the local soccer community. In 2022 the club provided a welcoming environment for fans regardless of their age, ethnicity, or background.

On the field, the club is still working on taking the next step in its progression to reclaim MLS silverware. For years, the club has managed to squeeze its way into the postseason without making any serious endeavors toward regaining the MLS Cup. The 2023 season will provide a platform for the club to cement dominance on the pitch and host a playoff game. The previous two seasons have proved that an away slate of postseason games is too much for the club to overcome.

Hosting a playoff game is the most realistic goal in 2023 and the most important. Every player that was asked in the 2022 exit interviews confirmed the importance of hosting playoff games moving forward.

Following the conclusion of the 2022 campaign for Real Salt Lake, the front office has already begun making adjustments. Bobby Wood joined New England Revolution as a free agent after the club decided not to pick up his option ahead of the 2023 season and RSL homegrown defender Aaron Herrera was recently traded to Montreal in exchange for an international spot, $500K in General Allocation Money (GAM) and a first-round SuperDraft selection.

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