For Maikel Chang, the proverbial centennial mark has been a rapidly approaching accomplishment.
Since becoming a member of the Claret-and-Cobalt ahead of 2020, Chang has appeared in all but 19 of the team’s 110 matches, and prior to this year he had only missed 10 games across three seasons.
Despite suffering an injury earlier this year, which put a pause on his rise to 100, Chang has quickly, and with a calm resolve crept his way towards the achievement, a task which has taken the last several players who have done so five, or more, seasons to reach, Chang doing so in just four.
But for Chang, his favorite memory came from hitting the back of the net, rather than providing the assist.
The match itself was the team’s first in regular season play after more than five months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the team had competed in the MLS is Back Tournament, the game at Colorado Rapids was a welcomed return to some semblance of normalcy.
After suffering a one-goal deficit in the 38th minute Damir Kreilach was able to find the equalizer in the 57th minute. Chang had been substituted on at halftime and in the 76th minute he found himself unmarked in front of goal with the ball at his feet, following a fumbled save by the goalkeeper. Chang wasted no time and one-touched a left footed shot into the far corner, recording his first Major League Soccer goal and what would prove to be the eventual game winner.
Nine minutes later he set up former RSL Homegrown Corey Baird, his first assist on the heels of his first goal, a series of special moments kick-starting his Claret-and-Cobalt career.
“It was the most beautiful moment in my career,” Chang said “I will never forget that feeling of making my debut and being able to help the team.”
As the Major League Soccer’s second-most capped Cuban of all-time, Chang has taken pride in representing his home land on the Wasatch Front.
On July 21, 2021 in the 25th minute against LA Galaxy Chang scored his first goal in front of a home crowd at America First Field. As Chang jogged towards the corner flag in celebration a fan tossed a piece of fabric towards the midfielder. Unfurled, the piece of fabric revealed to be the Cuban flag, flying proudly through the air above his shoulders.
“It means a lot because coming from Cuba and becoming the second Cuban to reach this milestone in the league is a proud moment for me,” Chang said. “I’m very proud to represent Cuba and to always showcase and represent my country.”
Since then the winger has quietly become one of the team’s most important offensive pieces. Lost in the names of Designated Players Damir Kreilach, Jefferson Savarino and Chicho Arango, Chang’s contributions are not to be understated.
In his four seasons as a member of Real Salt Lake no player has recorded more assists than Chang. Additionally, his 18 assists, combined with his five goals put him tied with Pablo Ruiz for the fourth-most goal contributions during the Club’s last 120 matches.
“I’m very grateful to be able to reach 100 games and thankful to God for putting me in this position,” Chang finished.