HERRIMAN, Utah (Wednesday, August 2, 2023) – Real Salt Lake continues its inaugural foray in the Leagues Cup Thursday at America First Field with a critical elimination match against reigning CONCACAF Champions Club León; the Round of 32 match in Sandy kicks off at 7:00p MT, with tickets available at www.RSL.com/tickets. RSL split its group stage fixtures with a dominant 3-0 win over esteemed MLS rival Seattle later reversed by an identical scoreline days later against Liga MX power CF Monterrey. Los Rayados’ 4-2 win at Seattle Sunday secured advancement for RSL, which finished second in the West 2 group.
RSL arrives at Thursday’s tilt looking to recapture the red-hot form that saw the Utah side unbeaten in 11 games played in Leagues Cup, MLS and Open Cup action during June & July – eight wins, three draws, with 25 RSL goals scored by nine different players – prior to last week’s disappointing 0-3 home loss to Monterrey. Dating back to April 8, RSL remains unbeaten in 21 of its last 25 games across the trio of competitions (14 wins, seven draws), a run which includes numerous milestones, including a Club-record 11 consecutive road results. Prior to the loss, RSL had won three consecutive games at home for the first time since May 2022, with a combined 10-1 aggregate over MLS sides Seattle, New York Red Bulls and Orlando.
Throughout the last 100 days, RSL had played 17 of the 25 games on three or four days rest while navigating MLS and Open Cup action; during this period, RSL Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni and staff have seen 28 different players appear, RSL earning 8 wins and 6 draws against just 3 losses in these short rest / heavy rotation contests.
Thursday’s kickoff against Club León – which won its West group ahead of LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps – starts at 8:30p MT on the Apple MLS Season Pass w/ Max Bretos and Brian Dunseth (ENG) & Rodolfo Landeros and Mariano Trujillo (SPN); the match will be televised nationally as well on Fox Sports 1 (Nate Bukaty / Tony Meola) and UniMás. For local coverage, tune in at 7:30p MT for KSL Radio pre-game w/ David James & Jay Nolly via www.KSLSports.com/ 1280 AM / 97.5 FM and www.KSLNewsRadio.com / 1160 AM).
Real Salt Lake v Club León – Leagues Cup Round of 32
America First Field – Sandy, UT
Friday, August 4, 2023 – 7:00p MT
2023 Records: Real Salt Lake (10-7-7, 37 pts, t-2nd West MLS; 1-0-1, 3 pts Leagues Cup);
Club León (1-2-0, 3 pts., 11th Apertura Liga MX)
Thursday’s RSL v León winner will face tonight’s LAFC v Juarez winner in the upcoming Round of 16 (likely next Tuesday, Aug. 8), with RSL traveling to LAFC or hosting FC Juarez; a León v Juarez matchup in the next round would be played at a neutral site in the U.S.). Additional details regarding RSL’s participation in the highly-anticipated Leagues Cup 2023, which will occur from July 21 – August 19 this Summer, amidst RSL’s 19th campaign, can be obtained at www.LeaguesCup.com.
HOW WE GOT HERE
While RSL could not host any matches during the 2022 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, last year’s postseason qualification – the Claret-and-Cobalt’s fourth in the last five years, and its 12th in 15 seasons since 2008 – did clinch at least these TWO home matches at America First Field in Sandy against both Monterrey and Seattle for the 2023 Leagues Cup.
Last September, Real Salt Lake welcomed LIGA MX Champion Atlas FC to Utah in the Leagues Cup “Showcase” as the 42nd match against 30 different international opponents from 16 various countries for the Claret-and-Cobalt since 2005. Atlas FC – which overcame an early and spectacular 78-yard laser from former homegrown DF Aaron Herrera for RSL – was the ninth Mexican opponent to visit Utah and appear opposite RSL, which has also competed against Monarcas Morelia, Santos Laguna, Cruz Azul, Club America, CD Guadalajara, Monterrey, Xolos de Tijuana and UANL Tigres a combined 15 times across international friendly or CONCACAF Champions League play, as well as the Leagues Cup 2019.
Now, reigning CONCACAF Champions League holders Club León become the 10th Liga MX side to visit Utah.
All-time, following last week’s 0-3 loss to Monterrey, RSL is now just 3-6-3 (W-L-T) against Mexican visitors, while the Utah side owns an all-time 19-14-11 overall record in international competitions and/or friendlies. Both records include RSL’s home 1-0 loss to Tigres in 2019, as well as last year’s 1-2 loss to Atlas.
RAYADOS DOMINATE RSL YET AGAIN
Visiting Utah for the first time since April, 2011, when the storied Monterrey club defeated Real Salt Lake, 1-0, in that year’s CONCACAF Champions League Final, Los Rayados scored twice in the July 26 game’s first 13 minutes, opening up the RSL defense with quick-strike counters and precision one-touch passing. RSL was unable to score on its five clear chances created, as Brayan Vera, Chicho Arango, Rubio Rubin and Jefferson Savarino all experienced failure on attempts they typically finish.
Twelve years since they last squared off, RSL hosted a CF Monterrey side that some believe is the best on the continent. Back in 2011, RSL secured a 2-2 tie in the first leg of that 2011 CCL series, but Rayados, thanks to a late first-half goal by Humberto Suazo, took the title with a 1-0 upset in Utah. Victor Manuel Vucetich was the coach for Monterrey then, and returned to the club in 2022, although he was no longer the manager as Leagues Cup 2023 kicks off.
LEAGUES CUP KNOCKOUT SCHEDULE, IF NEEDED
Should RSL emerge as one of the two teams from West Group 2, advancing sides will compete in the single-game elimination Knockout Rounds, beginning with the Round of 32 on August 2-4 (16 matches), followed by the Round of 16 on August 6-8 (eight matches). The eight advancing teams will compete in the Quarterfinals from August 11-12 (four matches) before the two Semifinal matches on August 15. The possibility exists that America First Field in Sandy could host Knockout Round matches involving Real Salt Lake, as well as potential “intra-league” matches between Liga MX opponents.
The Leagues Cup 2023 Final and third-place game will be played on Saturday, August 19 to determine the three clubs that will qualify for the 2024 CONCACAF Champions League.
Fans around the world will be able to watch Leagues Cup on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app, which is available on Apple devices, smart TVs, streaming devices from Roku, Amazon, and Google, game consoles, and the web at tv.apple.com. In addition, TelevisaUnivision, FOX Sports, TSN and RDS will be the linear broadcast home for select Leagues Cup matches in the United States and Canada.