REAL SALT LAKE

Can Real Salt Lake Climb MLS Mountain For First Time In 15 Years?

Jun 4, 2024, 3:57 PM

Chicho Arango Real Salt Lake RSL MLS Austin FC...

(Photo courtesy of Real Salt Lake)

(Photo courtesy of Real Salt Lake)

SALT LAKE CITYReal Salt Lake is off to one of the best starts in the club’s history as the midway point of the 2024 season approaches.

Can RSL recreate past glory and be crowned MLS Cup Champs for the first time since 2009?

RSL Tops Power Rankings Heading Into June

For the first time this season, Real finds themselves leading the MLS power rankings.

Based on the club’s recent run of form, it seemed like only a matter of time.

RSL is currently second in goals scored, sixth in goals allowed, and first in goal difference. The Utah-based club is also amid an MLS unbeaten streak that goes back three months to early March.

When you look at Real Salt Lake’s lineup, it’s hard to find any holes.

Chicho Arango, Andres Gomez, and Diego Luna lead a dynamic attack, while Emeka Eneli and Braian Ojeda form one of the league’s most consistent midfields. On the back line, you can find Justen Glad and Brayan Vera holding down the fort.

RSL could have as many as eight players in the MLS All-Star game next month in Columbus. It’s plausible that Real could tie or break Seattle’s record from 2021 with six players in the game.

Arango Carries RSL To Top Of MLS

One of the biggest reasons for Real Salt Lake’s success up to this point has been the MVP-level play from Arango.

With 16 goals and nine assists, Arango is the third-fastest player to 25 goal contributions in MLS history.

Arango and Lionel Messi are currently in a two-man race for the MLS MVP award. Regardless of that outcome, Arango is also on track to win the MLS Golden Boot with a three-goal advantage over the second-leading scorer in the league.

Arango attracts so much defensive attention that opportunities have opened up for other players. Anderson Julio and Gomez are the two biggest beneficiaries.

Not taking anything away from the great seasons Julio and Gomez have put together but it’s just a fact that Arango has instilled confidence in everyone on the roster with his stellar play.

Real Salt Lake: 2009 vs. 2024

Now for the biggest questions. Can RSL become champions for the first time in 15 years? Is this Real Salt Lake team as good as the 2009 team?

It’s not too controversial to say they’re better.

In 2009, Real won it all as the 5th seed in the West. They actually had a losing record that season at 11-12-7.

Barring an unforeseen falloff, Real Salt Lake is on its way to being a top-3 seed in the West and a top-5 team in the league this season.

Plus, RSL has better playmakers all over the field this season compared to 2009. Robbie Findley had an excellent season for RSL 15 years ago with 12 goals but Arango has already surpassed that mark with 19 games left in the season.

Maybe the only spot where the 2009 team has the 2024 team beat with little to no arguments is in goal. Nick Rimando is debatably the best goalkeeper in MLS history. Although Zac MacMath and Gavin Beavers have done their job this season, it’s hard to compete with one of the greats.

Only time will tell if Real Salt Lake can win the second MLS Cup in club history. But, they have proven themselves as bonafide contenders.

How To Watch Real Salt Lake

All Major League Soccer games are broadcasted on Apple TV with MLS Season Pass.

All Real Salt Lake English-language radio coverage for the 2024 season and beyond will be carried on various KSL radio signals. KSL Sports Zone (97.5 FM/1280 AM) and KSL Newsradio (102.7 FM / 1160 AM) are both stations under the Bonneville International umbrella.

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports. 

Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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Can Real Salt Lake Climb MLS Mountain For First Time In 15 Years?