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Real Salt Lake Games
Since Major League Soccer (MLS) was formed in 1996, the organization has initiated several rounds of expansion, reaching new audiences in the United States and Canada. What was once 10 teams has flourished into a 26-team franchise, and MLS still keeps their eyes open for new markets, hoping to one day have a slew of over 30 teams competing in MLS. In MLS’ growth period starting in 2004, the league nearly doubled in size. One of the teams that was added into the mix at that time was Real Salt Lake.
Real Salt Lake – also known as RSL – is based in Sandy, Utah, which is in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. It is one of the smaller metropolitan areas to be awarded its own MLS team, since Salt Lake City is only the sixth-largest city in Utah. RSL plays their home games at Rio Tinto Stadium, which locals call Rio Tinto or The Riot. This soccer-specific stadium is also home to the city’s National Women’s Soccer League club, called the Utah Royals FC. This newly built stadium opened in 2008, and it has over 20,000 seats. It has hosted a number of big-name competitions in soccer, including the MLS All-Star Game (2009), CONCACAF Champions League Finals (2011), Lamar Hunt US Open Cup (2013), CONCACAF Gold Cup (2013) among others. This speaks to the impressive base of soccer supporters in the area. The $110 million project has paid off, despite the hardship of securing funding in the project’s early days.
In recent seasons, RSL has had a performance record that is nothing short of impressive. In 2019, the team was ranked third in the Western Conference and sixth overall. The team has won the MLS Cup (2009), and they have been runners-up in a number of top competitions, including the Supporters’ Shield, U.S. Open Cup, MLS Cup, and CONCACAF Champions League.
As with most teams, RSL has drummed up some rivalries. The nearby Colorado Rapids are an obvious geographic rival, because they compete for the Rocky Mountain Cup. Interestingly, the cup is awarded by what’s called the “Committee of 10,” with fans from both clubs judging the competition. A more unusual rivalry has emerged with Sporting Kansas City. MLS soccer has referred to their relationship as a feud, with the headline “Hard tackles, hard words, hard-fought: The Real Salt Lake-Sporting KC feud.” The tensions reportedly began in 2011, and despite periods of peace between the teams, it seems that the rivalry keeps coming back.
Even though RSL is a small-market team, they fight hard to stay competitive in the growing world of MLS. Soccer lovers do not have to be members of a supporter team to see RSL in action. Search for information about the team and upcoming matches today.