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Real Salt Lake Returns Home Wednesday to Host Seattle Sounders FC

HERRIMAN, Utah (Tuesday, May 14, 2024)Real Salt Lake (6-2-4 / 22 points / 1st West) returns to America First Field Wednesday against Seattle Sounders FC, the team looking to rebound from last week’s Open Cup ouster and a disappointing draw at the death Saturday against the LA Galaxy on the road. Kickoff Wednesday against perennial rival Seattle (3-5-4 / 13 points / 10th West) is at 7:30p MT, available on Apple TV+ / MLS Season Pass, with Max Bretos and Brian Dunseth (ENG) and Francisco X. Rivera and Diego Arrioja(SPN) on the call.

First-place RSL – led by Captain Chicho Arango and his 11 goals / 7 assists in 12 MLS games thus far – returns home to Sandy this week for two matches, riding an eight-game unbeaten run (five wins, three draws) dating back to March 9 at home, a stretch that has seen Major League Soccer’s second-staunchest defense notch four clean sheets. During the current MLS run, RSL has outscored opponents 15-6, scored first in five of the eight matches and scored four game-winning goals in the final 15 minutes of matches.

RSL hosts both Seattle and Rocky Mountain Cup rival Colorado this week – tickets for both expected sellouts are available via www.RSL.com/tickets – boasting a 3-1-1 home record / 10 points at America First Field in MLS action this year, defeating LAFC (3-0, March 2), St. Louis (3-1, March 30) and Kansas City (1-0, May 4), while drawing with Columbus Crew (0-0, April 13) and losing at home on March 9 to Colorado (2-1, after taking a 1-0 lead).

Real Salt Lake v. Seattle Sounders FC – MLS Matchday 14

America First Field – Sandy, Utah

Wednesday, May 15, 2024 – 7:30p MT

Real Salt Lake (14-12-8, 50 pts, 5th West MLS);

Seattle Sounders FC (14-9-11, 53 pts, 2nd West MLS)

This week, Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni’s team also looks to extend the Club’s active unbeaten streak to nine and 10 MLS games, the Claret-and-Cobalt last losing on March 9 at home against Colorado. The early May 1-0 win over rival Kansas City was just one of four America First Field matches for RSL from mid-April to mid-June, the Claret-and-Cobalt playing eight of 12 away from home during that span, includes last week’s U.S. Open Cup trip to Albuquerque.

Real Salt Lake’s recent three-game MLS win streak – snapped Saturday at LA Galaxy with the 94th-minute concession on the last kick of the game – was the Claret-and-Cobalt’s first in nearly two years. RSL last strung together three straight victories in league action in both May and March of 2022; RSL also had three such streaks in the 2019 season. However, RSL has not had a three-game win streak involving two road victories – as the recent run did – since August, 2018.

The active eight-game MLS unbeaten run is the sixth-longest in RSL’s 20-season history, trailing last year’s 11-game streak across three competitions, as well as a 16-game run from 2013 into 2014, and a Club-record 18-game unbeaten streak from July 2010 to April 2011.

The active run to the top of the Western Conference table places RSL there for its latest first-place bragging rights in the calendar since April 30, 2016, and the latest solo No. 1 in the West since August 2013.

RSL will then embark on another two-game road trip May 25-29 at Dallas and at Seattle. Following a June 1 home game against Austin FC, RSL will enjoy a much-needed early June bye weekend prior to again traveling to Montreal and Kansas City on June 15/19 to wrap up the circuitous gauntlet.

CAPTAIN CHICHO REMAINS ON FIRE

When Chicho Arango finds the scoresheet, as he has in 10 of 12 MLS matches this year, RSL owns six wins and three draws against one loss, the Claret-and-Cobalt failing to score at Miami Feb. 24 and April 13 v. Columbus, with Chicho’s assist on an Emeka Eneli goal back on March 9 coming in a loss to Colorado.

Chicho provided a three-goal explosion in a 21-minute span in the Utah side’s come-from-behind 3-1 home win over St. Louis on March 30, the Club’s first hat trick since September 17, 2018 (Damir Kreilach). Chicho’s three-goal performance is just the seventh in RSL’s now 626-game MLS history, the Colombian joining Alvaro Saborio (three hats – two in 2012, one in 2013), along with Robbie Findley (2009), Javier Morales (2014) and Kreilach. Former Captain, head coach and current Club director Jason Kreis also had a hat trick, albeit in the 2005 U.S. Open Cup.

Arango now has two hat tricks in his MLS career – his first was for LAFC in late 2021 against Dallas – and boasts 110 goals as a professional, including 54 goals in 87 games across all competitions since arriving in MLS for LAFC and RSL. Since appearing on the Wasatch Front last July, Chicho boasts 19 goals and nine assists in 30 MLS reg. season appearances for the Claret-and-Cobalt, with those numbers increasing to 21 goals and 11 assists in 35 RSL games across all competitions (incl. Leagues Cup, Open Cup, Playoffs).

IRON MEN ALL AROUND THE PARK

Two RSL players – MF Emeka Eneli (1080) and FW Chicho Arango (1065) – have played nearly every minute of the Club’s 12-game MLS season so far in 2024, with only second-year man Eneli perfect from a minutes standpoint. DF Andrew Brody (977) did not start twice this season for the only time April 27 in Philadelphia. DF Bode Hidalgo is the fourth player to have appeared in all 12 league games, while three RSL players have appeared in 11 matches, missing just one game this year – Anderson Julio, Braian Ojeda and Andrés Gómez.

GK Zac MacMath, Justen Glad, Matt Crooks, Diego Luna and Fidel Barajashave each appeared in 10 of 12 MLS contests thus far, with a heavily-congested May/June continuing this week.

Last Wednesday in Albuquerque, RSL fell 4-2 in 90 minutes to USL Championship side New Mexico United, conceding two goals to Zico Bailey in the 19th / 20th minutes before teenager Fidel Barajas pulled one back in the 36th minute – RSL Academy products Zavier Gozo and Tommy Silva earning the assists on that Barajas goal, his first for RSL. Another long-distance offering from the home side created a 3-1 halftime deficit, with RSL starlet Diego Lunacutting the NM Utd lead to one in the 49th minute with a scintillating goal. But in the 88th minute, New Mexico iced the match with a rebound off the bar from 16 yards out for the final 4-2 margin, eliminating RSL in the Round of 32, the Claret-and-Cobalt suffering its eighth “one and done” ouster in its 20-year history of the 111-year-old tourney.

In RSL’s last previous Open Cup road trip prior to Las Vegas last year, in June 2017 at Sacramento, a young side guided by Mike Petke lost 4-1 to USL Republic FC in what was RSL Academy Homegrown starlet – and current RSL Academy head coach – Jordan Allen’s last professional game. Back in 2014, RSL lost at Atlanta to the lower-division Silverbacks.

Last season, RSL advanced to the USOC Semifinal Round with a road-heavy schedule, ultimately losing 3-1 at the Dynamo in 120-minutes of extra time, while previously winning road matches at Las Vegas (3-1 AET in the Round of 64), at Portland (4-3 in the Round of 32) and at Colorado (1-0 in the Round of 16), as well as a home Quarterfinal against LA Galaxy (3-2).

Wednesday’s loss drops the Club to an all-time 35-game, 18-year tourney record of 15-17-3 (W-L-T), including MLS “qualifying” games from 2007-10. The overall home record at Rice-Eccles Stadium (3-1-0) and the former Rio Tinto Stadium (9-5-2) is 12-6-2, with RSL splitting the penalty-kick tiebreakers in Sandy – both in 2016.

80 DAYS AWAY FROM LEAGUES CUP OPENER: On August 1, RSL kicks off its participation in the 2024 Leagues Cup, the second year of the 47-team, 78-game tournament, with three CONCACAF Champions Cup berths on the line. RSL is grouped with a road tilt away at Houston Dynamo (MLS) on August 5, with the home opener on August 1 against Atlas CF (MEX) match at America First Field in its West 2 group, with single-elimination knockout games to follow leading up to an August 25 title match.

Based on last year’s fifth-seeded West finish (14W-12L-8T, 50 points, 48 GF / 50 GA), RSL will be grouped with both Houston and Liga MX side Atlas F.C. in Leagues Cup 2024 this July. RSL last faced Atlas in the 2022 Leagues Cup “Showcase” match in Utah, dropping a 1-2 decision despite former DF Aaron Herrera’s wondergoal from 65 yards away over the retreating goalkeeper.

Due to the new for 2024 Leagues Cup seeding formula, RSL will once again travel to Houston for a group stage LC match in addition to its two MLS reg. season games against the Dynamo, with RSL now winless in its last six games against Houston – all last year – across all competitions. Prior to the active six-game streak without a win against the South Texas side, RSL had seen great success against the Dynamo, which defeated RSL for the first time in 11 games dating back to 2017 in last year’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal.

During the first week of January 2022, the RSL compendium of properties was acquired by global sports entrepreneur David Blitzer – who boasts interests in the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), the New Jersey Devils (NHL), the Cleveland Guardians (baseball) and the Washington Commanders (NFL) – as well as several European soccer entities, including Crystal Palace (England), FC Augsburg (Germany), Estoril (Portugal), ADO Den Haag (Netherlands), Alcorcón (Spain), SK Beveren (Belgium) and Brøndby IF (Denmark). The Blitzer group partners with Utah-based Smith Entertainment Group (SEG), which owns the Utah Jazz (NBA) and the new Utah Hockey Club (NHL), led by Ryan Smith and including Dwyane Wade, among others.

Real Salt Lake recently kicked off its 20th Major League Soccer season, its third full season under Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni, who led the Utah side on an interim basis for the final 100 days in 2021. RSL is the lone Western Conference side to have advanced to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in each of the 2021, 2022 and 2023 campaigns, amassing 13 postseason appearances in the last 16 years, as well as on five occasions in the last six seasons.

RSL’s MLS Cup 2009 victory marked the state of Utah’s only major professional championship in nearly 40 years, the title preceding an historic run to the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League Final. Buoyed by a passionate base boasting several thousand season ticket holders and opening its permanent home in Sandy just over 15 years ago; since October, 2008, RSL’s 166-60-76 (W-L-T) mark at America First Field – home of the “RioT” Supporters Group umbrella – equates to a 1.91 points per game average and a 0.679 win pct, one of the truly amazing value proposition in North American sporting landscape today.

For the 2024 season and beyond, Real Salt Lake’s Blitzer / Smith ownership groups have partnered to bring the National Women’s Soccer League back to Utah, as Utah Royals FC returned this Spring. Led by Head Coach Amy Rodriguez, President Michelle Hyncik and Sporting Director Kelly Cousins, URFC aims to seize upon the success the NWSL enjoyed during its first iteration on the Wasatch Front from 2018-20 and grow the game to even greater heights going forward. Led by visionary sports business entrepreneur Jess Gelman – the founder of the Sloan Sports Analytics Institute, along with innovative NBA executive Daryl Morey – Utah Royals FC blazes new trails in 2024 at America First Field.

In 2015, the club expanded its development pyramid with the addition of Real Monarchs SLC, one of several MLS-operated clubs playing in the USL Championship, the United States’ Division II setup. The Monarchs boast a pair of titles in its brief history, as the 2017 USL Championship Regular-Season champions, later winning the USL Championship title in 2019. For the 2022 season and beyond, Real Monarchs compete in the newly-launched “MLS NEXT Pro” as part of a joint United States and Canada endeavor to complete the professional player pathway by connecting youth academies in MLS NEXT to first teams in Major League Soccer.

The entire competitive RSL setup, which includes nearly 70 players representing the RSL Academy’s U-15 and U-17 teams, calls the expansive Zions Bank Training Center in Herriman, Utah their daily training home. With five world-class grass fields, two indoor turf fields, a residential dormitory, the STEM-based RSL Academy High School and the 5,000-seat Zions Bank Stadium located on a 42-acre campus, Utah’s sporting future is bright.

The RSL Community Foundation was established in 2016, created with the goals of being active in the community yearround, utilizing the popularity and reach of RSL, the Royals, the Monarchs and the Academy in promoting health and wellness in children throughout the region, engaging supporters of soccer to raise funds and volunteer time for various local initiatives.