Real Salt Lake

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Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake 2010.svg
Full name Real Salt Lake
  • Claret and Cobalt, Royals[1]
Founded 2004
Stadium Rio Tinto Stadium
Sandy, Utah
Ground Capacity 20,213[2]
Owner Dell Loy Hansen
Head Coach Jeff Cassar
League Major League Soccer
2015 Western Conference: 9th
Overall: 16th
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Website Club home page
Current season

Real Salt Lake (RSL) is an American professional soccer club that competes in the Western Conference of Major League Soccer (MLS). The team has competed in MLS since 2005. The team plays its home games at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City.

Real Salt Lake won the 2009 MLS Cup. The team also finished runners-up of the 2013 MLS Cup, the 2010 MLS Supporters Shield, the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League, and the 2013 U.S. Open Cup. The team has been led since the start of the 2014 season by head coach Jeff Cassar, who was previously an assistant coach with the club.


The title "Real" (Spanish pronunciation: [reˈal]) is a Spanish word which means "royal" in English. The term is usually used by Spanish clubs who have received royal patronage from a reigning Spanish king, the most famous of which would include Real Madrid, Real Betis and Real Sociedad. In choosing the name "Real", owner Dave Checketts intended to create a brand name that would become well known for its simplicity, as well as an association with the world-famous club in Madrid that the club had been striving toward.[3]

Local reaction to the new team's name was initially met with mixed feelings, as fans believed that using a traditionally Spanish name was akin to a move of cultural appropriation.[4][5] On top of that, some thought that the name sounded contrived, and did not truly reflect the Salt Lake area, with other team names such as "Highlanders", "Salt Lake SC", or "Union SLC" being more preferred. However, in recent years, reaction to the name has cooled, with the team establishing its identity as a representative of Salt Lake.[6][7]


Early years: 2005–2006[edit]

Robbie Russell (in red) playing for Real Salt Lake.

Real Salt Lake became the twelfth MLS franchise when Major League Soccer awarded an expansion franchise on July 14, 2004, to SCP Worldwide, headed by Dave Checketts. Jason Kreis became the first player in RSL history, coming in a trade from the Dallas Burn. Other notable players that played in RSL's early years includes veterans Clint Mathis, Eddie Pope and Jeff Cunningham.

RSL's first season was 2005 under head coach John Ellinger. RSL began play on April 2, 2005 against New York MetroStars at Giants Stadium, which ended in a tie.[8] The following week, Jason Kreis scored the first goal in franchise history in a 3-1 loss to LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center. RSL played its first-ever home match on April 16, 2005, before 25,287 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium; Brian Dunseth scored a header in the 81st minute to deliver a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids.[9] The season was mostly a disappointment, however, with the team setting a league record by posting a 557-minute scoreless streak (later broken by Toronto FC). They were also on a 10-game losing streak before managing a 2–2 draw on the road against San Jose Earthquakes. The first season finished with a record of 5-22-5.

In 2006, Real Salt Lake's second season, the team recorded five losses and one tie in the first six matches of the season. RSL had gone 18 consecutive matches without a victory—the longest winless streak in MLS history. Jeff Cunningham, who came to Salt Lake from Colorado, provided most of Real's highlights during an otherwise poor 2006 season. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs, finishing with a 10-13-9 record.

Turnaround and new stadium: 2007–2008[edit]

Real Salt Lake boasted a formidable attack with Cunningham and Kreis up front, joined by recently signed Panamanian international Luis Tejada. They were supported by veteran talent in the midfield and defense, such as Chris Klein, Carey Talley, and newly arrived goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Their first game of the 2007 MLS season was a 2–2 draw for FC Dallas on Real's home turf. RSL were outscored 6–0 in their next three games. In a stunning move, Ellinger was fired and replaced by Kreis,[10] who immediately retired as a player. Also, general manager Steve Pastorino resigned and was later replaced by Garth Lagerwey. The franchise launched a massive re-construction project that continued throughout the year. The team finished with a disappointing 6–15–9 record, missing the playoffs yet again.

In the 2008 MLS season, working with new General Manager Garth Lagerwey, RSL added several key players including Kyle Beckerman, Robbie Findley, Javier Morales, Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave. As Real established chemistry together, they emerged as a force when playing at home. The team's home field advantage improved dramatically in with the opening in October 2008 of Rio Tinto Stadium, the new soccer-specific stadium in Sandy. Through the regular season, their home record ended at 8–1–6. Finishing 2008 with a 10–10–10 record, RSL advanced to the playoffs for the first time.[11] RSL advanced past Chivas USA in the first round of the playoffs. The post-season ended, however, with a RSL lost to the Red Bulls in the Western Conference final.

MLS and CONCACAF success: 2009–2012[edit]

In the 2009 MLS season, RSL proved nearly invincible at home, having a 9–1–5 record in Rio Tinto Stadium, with a record-setting +23 goal differential.[citation needed] Real Salt Lake did not lose a league game at home since May 2009. However, the team struggled to maintain form during road games. In the final weeks of the regular season, RSL found itself in a battle for the final two spots in the MLS playoffs. However, thanks to a victory over Colorado in the final game of the regular season,[12] RSL clinched a position in the 2009 MLS playoffs. Despite finishing with a losing record overall (11-12-7), the team was granted the last spot through a tie-breaker. Real Salt Lake went on to win the 2009 MLS Cup by defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy in the November 22 final. RSL played the L.A. Galaxy to a 1–1 tie through overtime and won the MLS Cup (5–4 on penalties). Goalkeeper Nick Rimando was named Man of the Match.[13] The victory in the 2009 MLS Cup qualified RSL for the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League.

The 2010 season saw RSL continue its home unbeaten streak. On October 16, 2010 Real Salt Lake improved their home unbeaten streak to 25 games after beating the FC Dallas. This win gave Real Salt Lake the most consecutive home games without a loss in MLS history.[14][15] RSL tied San Jose Earthquakes 2005 record for a single-season home unbeaten streak with zero losses in the 2010 regular season.[citation needed] Real Salt Lake finished second in the race for the Supporters Shield with a (15-4-11) record. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando led the league with 14 shutouts, and Jámison Olave was named MLS Defender of the Year. In the MLS playoffs, however, RSL lost to FC Dallas in the first round.

For the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League, Real Salt Lake were placed in Group A with Cruz Azul of Mexico, Toronto FC of Canada and Arabe Unido of Panama. Real Salt Lake finished first in Group A, with a perfect 3–0 home record and a respectable 1–1–1 away record.[16] RSL continued its run in the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League knockout rounds in spring 2011. In the quarterfinals, Real Salt Lake advanced by beating the Columbus Crew 4–1 over two games. In the semifinals, Real Salt Lake beat Saprissa 2–0 in the home leg, before losing the away leg 1–2. The 3–2 aggregate was enough for Real to advance and become the first MLS team to reach the CONCACAF Champions League finals.[citation needed] Real Salt Lake played the first leg of the finals at Mexican side Monterrey. RSL's Javier Morales scored in the 89th minute, ending the game in a 2–2 draw. The second leg of the final was held on April 27, 2011, at Rio Tinto Stadium; Monterrey scored the only goal of the game, giving Monterrey a 3–2 aggregate victory.[citation needed]

In their 2011 MLS season, RSL's home unbeaten streak ended at 29 games on May 28, 2011, with their loss to the Seattle Sounders FC.[17] Real finished the regular season with a 15–11–8 record and finished third in the western conference. In the MLS playoffs, RSL defeated Seattle Sounders 3–2 on aggregate. In the conference finals, RSL lost 3–1 to the LA Galaxy and were eliminated. RSL qualified for the 2012–13 CONCACAF Champions League, since LA had won both the 2011 MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield, since RSL had the next best record.[18]

In 2012, Real finished second in the Western conference during the regular season. In the playoffs, RSL lost to Seattle in the conference semifinals, and were eliminated from the playoffs. In the 2012–13 CONCACAF Champions League, RSL were placed in Group 2 with Herediano of Costa Rica and Tauro of Panama, but were eliminated at the group stage.[19]

New ownership and management: 2013–present[edit]

In 2013, Checketts sold his stake in Real Salt Lake to minority owner Dell Loy Hansen.[20] Before the season, the club also traded key players Jámison Olave, Fabián Espíndola and Will Johnson.[21] RSL finished the season in second place in the Western Conference with a 16–10–8 (W-L-T) record, and reached both the Open Cup and MLS Cup finals, losing both to D.C. United and Sporting Kansas City, respectively.

After the season, Kreis left Real Salt Lake to become the first head coach of expansion club New York City FC,[22] with long-time assistant coach Jeff Cassar replacing him at the helm.[23] Despite the departure, the club finished the 2014 season in third in the Western Conference, with a record of 15-8-11 totaling 56 points, and qualified for the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League. In the MLS Cup Playoffs, RSL was eliminated in the conference semifinals by eventual champions LA Galaxy 5–0 on aggregate.

Despite a five-game unbeaten start to the 2015 season, the team eventually began to struggle in the standings, coupled with a loss to Sporting Kansas City in the semi-finals of the 2015 Open Cup.[24] RSL also lost key players Nat Borchers, traded to the Portland Timbers before the season[25] and all-time goalscorer Álvaro Saborío, traded away to D.C. United mid-season.[26] Although late-season signings Luis Silva and Juan Manuel Martinez provided strong performances, the team missed qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Colors and badge[edit]

The team's official colors are claret Red, cobalt blue, and real gold.[27]

Kit evolution[edit]

Home, away, and third kits.[28]

  • Home
2014–2015 [29][30]
  • Away
  • Third/special


Rio Tinto Stadium has been RSL's home stadium since 2008.

In 2005 a soccer-specific stadium was approved for Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City. However, a vote in 2006 struck down a funding proposal. Dave Checketts said that he would sell it if a proposal was not put forward. Parties from several cities, including Rochester, New York and St. Louis, Missouri, expressed interest in purchasing the franchise and moving it.

Finally, after months of discussions an agreement was put in place and Real Salt Lake announced that they would move forward with the construction of Real Salt Lake Stadium.[31][32] The Debt Review Committee of Salt Lake County, however, voted against the stadium. In response, Real Salt Lake's owner announced the team would be sold and likely move out of the Salt Lake area after the 2007 season.[33] However, a new stadium proposal was passed by the State Senate.[34][35][36] The Utah House approved House bill 1SHB38, approving $35 million towards the development of Real Salt Lake's new home. The governor signed the bill.

The $110 million stadium was built in Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City. The stadium's opening date was set for October 9, 2008.[37]

Club culture[edit]


For more details on this topic, see Rocky Mountain Cup.

The main rival of Real Salt Lake is the Colorado Rapids, with the two teams being the closest to each other geographically, and also competing for the annual Rocky Mountain Cup.[38] Competition first began upon Salt Lake's entry into Major League Soccer in 2005, with the cup itself being awarded by a bi-partisan "Committee of 10", made up of fans from each respective club. Although dominated by the Rapids early on, Salt Lake has since taken a 7-3 series lead over their rivals, and are the current holders of the cup, having won it during the 2014 season.

The team also maintains smaller, fan-driven rivalries with both the Los Angeles Galaxy, whom they defeated in the 2009 MLS Cup final and were runner-up to for the 2010 MLS Supporters Shield,[39] as well as Sporting Kansas City, whom they were defeated by in the 2013 MLS Cup.[40]

Leo the Lion at a "Meet the Players" event, August 2010

Supporters groups[edit]

Real Salt Lake has eight official supporters groups: The Loyalists, Rogue Cavaliers Brigade (RCB), Salt City United (SCU), Section 26, La Barra Real, Union de Real, The Royal Pride (TRP),[41] and The Royal Army.[citation needed] Except for Section 26 and The Royal Army (which is dispersed throughout the stadium), all supporters groups sit in the south stands.[citation needed]

Leo the Lion is the official mascot of Real Salt Lake.[citation needed]

Club anthem[edit]

In 2011, Branden Steineckert, drummer of punk band Rancid and a supporter of Real Salt Lake, composed the song "Believe" in honor of the club. Initially posted on YouTube, the song has since been adopted as the team's official anthem, being sung at the beginning of every home game, as well as after all goals scored by RSL.[42]

Revenue and profitability[edit]

As Real Salt Lake is a small-market team, one of the team's biggest challenges is bringing in enough revenue to remain competitive.[43] Opening Rio Tinto Stadium in October 2008 provided a significant revenue boost to the team. Real Salt Lake went from 4,000 season-ticket holders before October 2008, to 8,750 in 2012, and passed 10,000 in 2013.[43]


Period Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor
2007-2013 Adidas XanGo
2014-0000 LifeVantage

RSL has a multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with LifeVantage.[44][45] It previously had a multimillion-dollar deal with XanGo a nutritional supplements company based in Utah, to carry the XanGo logo on the front of RSL jerseys from the 2007 season until 2014.[46] Additional sponsors include JetBlue Airways[47] and Maverik, Inc.[48]


Radio broadcasts air on KALL AM 700 (English) and KTUB AM 1600 (Spanish).

As of the 2015 season, Sinclair Broadcast Group holds television rights to Real Salt Lake games that are not aired by Major League Soccer's national television partners. The telecasts are produced by Sinclair's American Sports Network unit, and feature pre- and post-game coverage. Sinclair's Utah stations KUTV and KMYU serve as the team's flagship stations, and telecasts are syndicated to other Sinclair-owned stations in the region, and non-Sinclair stations in Albuquerque, Phoenix and Tucson.[49]

Players and staff[edit]

For details on former players, see All-time Real Salt Lake roster.

Current roster[edit]

As of August 21, 2015[50]

No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Fernández , LaloLalo Fernández      Mexico
2 Defender Beltran, TonyTony Beltran      United States
3 Defender Kavita, PhanuelPhanuel Kavita (HGP)     Democratic Republic of the Congo
4 Defender Olave, JámisonJámison Olave      Colombia
5 Midfielder Beckerman, KyleKyle Beckerman (Captain)     United States
6 Defender Okwuonu, BoydBoyd Okwuonu      United States
7 Midfielder Allen, JordanJordan Allen (HGP)     United States
8 Forward Plata , JoaoJoao Plata (DP)     Ecuador
10 Midfielder Gil, LuisLuis Gil (GA)     United States
11 Midfielder Morales, JavierJavier Morales      Argentina
12 Defender Vásquez, ElíasElías Vásquez      Guatemala
13 Forward García, OlmesOlmes García      Colombia
14 Defender Glad, JustenJusten Glad (HGP)     United States
16 Midfielder Pecka, Pecka      Brazil
17 Defender Phillips, DemarDemar Phillips      Jamaica
18 Goalkeeper Rimando, NickNick Rimando      United States
19 Midfielder Mulholland, LukeLuke Mulholland      England
20 Midfielder Silva, LuisLuis Silva      United States
21 Defender Maund, AaronAaron Maund      United States
22 Forward Martínez , Juan ManuelJuan Manuel Martínez (DP)     Argentina
23 Forward Jaime , SebastiánSebastián Jaime (DP)     Argentina
24 Goalkeeper Attinella, JeffJeff Attinella      United States
26 Midfielder Ovalle, AdolfoAdolfo Ovalle (HGP)     Chile
27 Midfielder Stertzer, JohnJohn Stertzer      United States
28 Defender Schuler, ChrisChris Schuler      United States
29 Defender Mansally, AbdoulieAbdoulie Mansally      Gambia
49 Forward Sandoval, DevonDevon Sandoval      United States
50 Midfielder Saucedo, SebastianSebastian Saucedo (HGP)     Mexico

Team captains[edit]

Nat Name Tenure
 United States Jason Kreis 2005 – 2007
 United States Eddie Pope 2007
 United States Kyle Beckerman 2008 – present

Head coaches[edit]

  • Includes MLS regular Season, MLS Playoffs, CONCACAF Champions League, and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
As of October 26, 2015
All Time Real Salt Lake Coaching Stats
Head Coach Start End Games Win Loss Draw Win %
John Ellinger 2005 Jan 2007 May 3 71 16 39 16 33.8%
Jason Kreis 2007 May 3 2013 December 10 261 112 85 64 55.2%
Jeff Cassar 2013 December 18 Present 79 32 26 21 53.8%


Team results[edit]

Finishing positions[edit]

Season Reg season
conf finish
Reg season
MLS Cup Playoffs U.S. Open Cup CONCACAF
Champions' League
2005 5th, West (5–22–5) DNQ 3R DNQ
2006 6th, West (10-13-9) DNQ 4R DNQ
2007 6th, West (6-15-9) DNQ DNQ DNQ
2008 3rd, West (10–10–10) Conference Finals DNQ DNQ
2009 5th, West (11-12-7) Won MLS Cup DNQ DNQ
2010 2nd, West (15-4-11) Conference Semifinals DNQ Runner-up (2010–11)
2011 3rd, West (15-11-8) Conference Finals Quarter-Finals DNQ (2011–12)
2012 2nd, West (17-11-6) Conference Semifinals 3R Group stage (2012–13)
2013 2nd, West (16-10-8) MLS Cup runners up Runners Up DNQ (2013–14)
2014 3rd, West (15-8-11) Conference Semifinals 4R Did not qualify (2014–15)
2015 9th, West (11-15-8) DNQ Semifinals Knockout stage (2015-16)


  • RSL won the 2009 MLS Cup by defeating the LA Galaxy 5–4 on penalty kicks.
  • RSL lost the 2013 MLS Cup final to Sporting Kansas City 6–7 on penalty kicks.

Year-by-year statistics[edit]

As of October 26, 2015
Season League record Top scorer
Played Won Lost Drew GF GA Diff Points Player Goals S. Shield
2005 32 5 22 5 30 65 -35 20 Jason Kreis 9 11/12
2006 32 10 13 9 45 49 -4 39 Jeff Cunningham 16 10/12
2007 30 6 15 9 31 45 -14 27 Chris Brown 5 12/13
2008 30 10 10 10 40 39 +1 40 Yura Movsisyan 7 7/14
2009 30 11 12 7 43 35 +8 40 Robbie Findley 12 8/15
2010 30 15 4 11 45 20 +25 56 Álvaro Saborío 12 2/16
2011 34 15 11 8 44 36 +8 53 Álvaro Saborío 11 3/18
2012 34 17 11 6 46 35 +11 57 Álvaro Saborío 17 5/19
2013 34 16 10 8 57 41 +16 56 Álvaro Saborío 12 4/19
2014 34 15 8 11 54 39 +15 56 Joao Plata 13 4/19
2015 34 11 15 8 38 48 –10 41 Javier Morales 8 16/20
Total 354 131 131 92 473 452 +21 484 Álvaro Saborío 63

CONCACAF Champions League[edit]

The following table shows the results of Real Salt Lake in the CONCACAF Champions League for the years in which RSL qualified for that tournament.

Season Group play (W-L-D) Knockout rounds
2010–11 4–1–1 (1st) QF: Defeated Crew (USA) (4–1)
SF: Defeated Saprissa (CR) (3–2)
F: Lost to Monterrey (MEX) (2–3)
2012–13 2–1–1 (2nd) Did not qualify
2015–16 3–0–1 (1st) QF: Will play UANL (MEX)

0–0–0 Win–Loss–Draw
* No games played
0-0-0 Games to be played
  • Did not qualify for Champions League tournament in years not listed
  • Win %- Number of wins divided by number of games played (ties count as half a win)
  • Games decided by a PK Shoot out counted as win or loss not Draw.
As of October 22, 2015
Club 2010-11 2012-13 2015-16 Totals Games Played Win % G A GD
Panama Árabe Unido 2–0–0 * * 2–0–0 2 100% 5 3 +2
United States Columbus Crew 1–0–1 * * 1–0–1 2 75% 4 1 +3
Mexico Cruz Azul 1–1–0 * * 1–1–0 2 50% 7 6 +1
Costa Rica Herediano * 0–1–1 * 0–1–1 2 25% 0 1 -1
Mexico Monterrey 0–1–1 * * 0–1–1 2 25% 2 3 -1
Guatemala Municipal * * 2–0–0 2–0–0 2 100% 2 0 +2
El Salvador Santa Tecla * * 1–0–1 1–0–1 2 75.0% 2 1 +1
Costa Rica Saprissa 1–1–0 * * 1–1–0 2 50% 3 2 +1
Panama Tauro F.C. * 2–0–0 * 2–0–0 2 100% 3 0 +3
Canada Toronto FC 1–0–1 * * 1–0–1 2 75% 5 2 +3
Mexico UANL * * 0–0–0 0–0–0 0 0% 0 0 0
Totals 6–3–3 2–1–1 3–0–1 11–4–5 20 67.5% 33 19 +14

MLS records[edit]

  • Fewest goals allowed: 20[51] (previous record 23, Houston 2007)
  • Overall goal difference: +25[51] (previous record +22, San Jose 2005 and D.C. United 2007)
  • Home goal difference: +24[51] (previous record +23, Real Salt Lake 2009)
  • Total home points (30-game season): 37[51] (previous record 35, Columbus 2009)
  • Fewest home losses: 0[51] (equals previous record set by San Jose in 2005)
  • Fewest home goals allowed: 7[51] (previous record 8, Colorado 2004)[52]

Real Monarchs[edit]

Main article: Real Monarchs

Real Monarchs SLC is the reserve team of RSL that was created On September 10, 2014. Real Salt Lake revealed their plans plans for their own USL Pro team, which they launched and began play in the 2015 USL season. The creation of Real Monarchs is to bridge a gap between the academies to the first level team.

Player records (career)[edit]

  • Players in Bold are still active
  • Only regular season matches played with Real Salt Lake counted towards all-time records. Stats from MLS play offs, U.S. Open Cup, Super Liga and CONCACAF Champions league are not included.

Player records (single season)[edit]

Indicates current season
  • Only regular season matches played with Real Salt Lake counted towards records.
As of November 19, 2015 [54]

Other player records and honors[edit]

Player awards[edit]

Awards given by MLS to Real Salt Lake players:

MLS Best XI:

Retired numbers[edit]

Hat tricks[edit]

September 29, 2012 vs Chivas USA (Win 4-0), MLS;
July 27, 2013 vs. New York Red Bulls (Loss 3-4), MLS

Attendance by season[edit]

MLS Season Reg. season MLS playoffs
2005 18,935 DNQ
2006 16,366 DNQ
2007 15,960 DNQ
2008 16,179 17,364
2009 16,375 11,499
2010 17,095 19,324
2011 17,594 17,067
2012 19,153 19,657
2013 19,362 18,187
2014 20,351 20,713
2015 20,160 DNQ

DNQ = Did Not Qualify


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External links[edit]