HERRIMAN, Utah (Friday, May 27, 2022) – Real Salt Lake (6-3-4, 22 pts, 4th West) returns home to Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday night in Sandy, hosting Western Conference foe Houston Dynamo (5-5-3, 18 pts, 7thWest) in what is expected to be Designated Player Jefferson Savarino’s 2022 debut. The Venezuelan international returned to the Wasatch Front earlier this week to bolster Pablo Mastroeni’s side, which has notched come-from-behind wins each of the last two weeks to remain just four points off Major League Soccer’s Supporters Shield pace. Fans are encouraged to visit www.RSL.com/tickets for Saturday’s match to witness Savarino’s debut.
Saturday’s match will be broadcast locally via KMYU (12 over the air, 22 satellite and 643 HD on cable), with streaming on the KSL Sports App, as well as ESPN700 AM radio. Spanish-speaking fans can tune in on KBMG Latino 106.3 FM, La Gran D 102.3 FM and KTUB 1600 AM for the local radio broadcast.
With a win or draw on Saturday night against Houston, RSL will seek to match a Club-record 10-game unbeaten run against a single opponent. RSL’s active unbeaten streak against the Dynamo is at nine games, including February’s 0-0 road draw to open 2022. RSL owns a 4-0-5 (W-L-T) mark against Houston dating back to 2017; the Claret-and-Cobalt also created 10-game unbeaten runs against Philadelphia (4-0-6 from 2010-17) and Portland (7-0-3 from 2011-14, incl. playoffs).
Saturday’s match kicks off a run of home opportunity for RSL, as four of the next six and six of the next nine MLS contests occur at Rio Tinto Stadium, where the Claret-and-Cobalt has posted a 4-0-1 (W-L-T) mark at home this season, capturing 13 of a possible 15 points throughout the first one-third of the year. All five of the “RioT” contests have witnessed crowds of 20,000-plus, RSL opening a season with five consecutive sellouts for the first time ever.
Despite innumerable injuries suffered and squad rotations that have forced Mastroeni and staff to utilize 26 players in MLS action already this year (DF Chris Kablan made his RSL/MLS debut Sunday at Montreal), the Claret-and-Cobalt have demonstrated wit, guile and resiliency, continuing its 2021 trends of scoring goals after the 80th minute and rescuing points from a losing position, setting the MLS standard each of the last two years.
Sunday afternoon in Montreal, RSL rode goals from DF Justen Glad and FW Sergio Cordova just early in the second half to erase an 0-1 deficit suffered in the first 43 seconds on Quebec soil. MF Maikel Chang supplied the game-winning assist for a second consecutive week, while MF Pablo Ruiz should have received credit for assists on both goals in return to the lineup after serving a caution accumulation suspension May 14 v. Austin. The victory in Canada was only RSL’s fifth-ever road win north of the border in 27 MLS attempts (5-19-3) since 2007, while the three points captured in Quebec represent RSL’s first spoils in five games played (1-4-0) against the former Impact, now known as CF Montreal.
Real Salt Lake v. Houston Dynamo
Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT
Saturday, May 28 at 7:30 p.m. MT
Game Notes for Saturday’s RSL v. HOU Match Available Online
The Adobe PDF version of the 2022 MLS Game Guide in advance of Saturday’s contest between Real Salt Lake and Houston can be found here.
Media members looking to receive the document as an attachment or have further questions are asked to please contact Meg Van Dyk in RSL Communications via email at email@example.com
2022 Records: Real Salt Lake (6-3-4, 22 pts, 4th West); Houston Dynamo (5-3-3, 18 pts, 7th West)
OTHER 2022 RSL NOTES:
NEVER SAY DIE – SECOND HALF STRIKES GOLD FOR RSL
For the third time this season, RSL pulled out the full three points after conceding first (matching LAFC for 2022 supremacy in the comeback category). Like it had at New England on March 12 in an eventual 3-2 win, and at home against Austin just the week before, RSL stayed focused and retained its belief after going down 0-1 just 45 seconds in on Sunday in Montreal, posting a 2-1 comeback. No team has earned more points this season on goals scored in the second half than RSL this season, with 15 of its 22 points coming on second half strikes.
The scintillating, come-from-behind 2-1 home win May 14 at home against Austin FC was the Claret-and-Cobalt’s sixth win and ninth result following a loss (6-1-3, W-L-T) in the Mastroeni era. RSL’s eight wins over the course of the last two seasons after going down 0-1 lead MLS.
With DF Justen Glad and FW Sergio Cordova scoring their second goals of the season Sunday in Montreal, the duo joins DF Tate Schmitt and FW Bobby Wood as the Club’s joint Golden Boot leaders in 2022, the quartet with a team-high two goals on the season.
ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER HOMEGROWN GOAL
Glad’s equalizing header Sunday was the fourth of the season for RSL Homegrowns, as DF Tate Schmitt scored twice in early March prior to DF Andrew Brody’s dramatic 88th-minute game-winner on May 14 vs. Austin. Fellow homegrown defenders Erik Holt, Aaron Herrera and Jaziel Orozco are now “on the clock”.
CHANG GANG DOES IT AGAIN
Starting MF Maikel Chang owns a goal and two assists in his last 180 RSL minutes, both comeback 2-1 wins. Two weeks ago against Austin, Chang provided the early second-half equalizer, erasing an 0-1 halftime deficit on a nice play that saw FW Bobby Wood set up MF Justin Meram, who found Chang in the middle of the box for the far-post shot. Chang also received credit for the secondary assist on Brody’s 88th-minute game-winning blast, the first goal of his career.
At Montreal, Chang notched another game-winning assist, taking a Pablo Ruiz pass and deftly, sublimely flicking with his heel a through-ball to unlock a streaking Sergio Cordova in alone, the Venezuelan loanee burying his shot from a tough angle far post to secure the three points for RSL in historic fashion.
The Cuban-born, Monarchs-developed talent has provided yeoman’s efforts in midfield this year, entering the starting lineup in game two and locking down a starting spot with the continued absence of Captain Damir Kreilach.
JASPER MAKING MOST OF OPPORTUNITY
Picked No. 81 overall out of Pitt, German native and rookie MF Jasper Löffelsend joined RSL in Tucson preseason training camp hoping to learn, connect and earn a Real Monarchs MLS Next Pro contract for 2022, which he certainly did. On Opening Day of the season, just hours before kickoff in Houston, Löffelsend and GK Tomas Gomez saw their Monarchs contracts converted to Major League Soccer deals. Since that time, Löffelsend has started three games and appeared in a total of 10, providing communication and other intangibles as a two-way midfielder each of the last two weeks. The Cologne native also has played outside back and on the wing off the bench for Pablo Mastroeni as something of a Swiss-Army Knife, earning the game-winning assist on Tate Schmitt’s stunner in New England and starting on the back line at Kansas City when Johan Kappelhof was suddenly scratched in warmups.
BRODY BLAST SEES HOMEGROWN CAREER COME FULL CIRCLE
RSL Academy product Andrew Brody could not have picked a better time than the 88th minute of Saturday’s match to curl home his first-ever career MLS goal. Signed as a 16-year old into the Club’s Casa Grande, Ariz., played two seasons of NCAA soccer at Louisville before coming to Utah and making more than 100 appearances with Real Monarchs (USL Championship). Following a loan spell in the 2019/20 season to the Austrian Third Division with FC Pinzgau – where he was coached by German legend Christian Ziege – Brody returned to Utah, eventually signing his first RSL contract.
Last season, a mid-game injury to fellow HG Aaron Herrera opened the door for Brody to contribute to the first team, a door never since closed. Brody has started in 23 of his 28 MLS appearances since recording an assist in his debut last May 1 at home against Sporting KC, filling in on either the right or left side, as a full back or wingback, depending on the formation.
RUIZ, CALDWELL EACH RETURN FROM RECENT SUSPENSIONS
RSL emerged victorious each of the last two weeks despite the absence of either starting holding midfielders due to caution accumulation suspensions, as playmaker Pablo Ruiz and MF Scott Caldwell each have seen yellows No. 5 on the season.
ANDERSON NOTCHES GAME-WINNING ASSIST IN 2022 HOME DEBUT
One of RSL’s three acquisitions during the recently closed transfer window could made his 2022 RSL HOME debut Saturday, as FW Anderson Julio – who saw 15 minutes of action in the 0-2 loss at Nashville on May 8, after just one travel-day training session with the team – completed his first week back on the Wasatch Front with a dramatic, substitute appearance that saw him set up the 88th-minute game-winning goal by DF Andrew Brody. Julio strained his hamstring at the death of the 2-1 home win over Austin, setting up Maikel Chang’s game-winning assist on the Andrew Brody bomb from 22 yds out.
Julio scored 8 goals in 30 appearances for RSL a year ago, and also added a playoff goal at Kansas City while on loan from Atletico San Luis (Liga MX). San Luis did not register or play the Ecuadoran attacker in the most recent Clausura, eventually selling the rights to the 25-year old to Real Salt Lake in late April. With his appearance last Sunday in Tennessee, Julio was the 25th player to see MLS minutes in the first 11 games for Mastroeni and staff this season.
The other two deadline moves – DF Chris Kablan, on loan from Blitzer-owned Waasland-Beveren; and FW Jefferson Savarino, the Venezuelan international who returns to RSL as a Designated Player from Atletico Mineiro in Brazil – have a combined 4 official minutes for the Claret-and-Cobalt this year.
Kablan made his debut late in the Montreal road win after participating in nearly two weeks of training sessions with the Club, while Savarino’s work visa process delayed his arrival until Tuesday, with his first session with RSL on Wednesday. Could Savarino be ready for Saturday? Possibly, that’s the goal for the spectacular playmaker who scored 22 goals and added 21 assists in 83 games across MLS reg. season and playoff action from 2017-19.
ROAD PROSPERITY AT ALL-TIME HIGH
With nine road results achieved in the last 13 road trips dating back to last Oct. 27 at Dallas, RSL boasts a 5-4-4 (W-L-T) record, the 19-point haul setting an all-time RSL mark for road success across any 13-game period over the Club’s 18-year existence.
Prior to the early May 0-2 loss at Nashville, RSL had earned points in eight of its previous 11 road matches (4-3-4, 16pts), matching the Club’s record 2010 stretch (3-1-7, 16 pts) as the MOST successful away spell in Club history. RSL was unable to set a new travel standard, however, as Nashville suffocated the game, went up 1-0 in the 65th minute, and iced the affair in the final 10 minutes by punishing an RSL turnover.
However, a few historical indicators were stacked up against Real Salt Lake last week. In the Club’s initial visits to new stadiums since 2007, RSL’s record is now just 2-10-3, with wins at Cincinnati last year and at NYCFC in 2016. RSL drew at Orlando in 2016, at Philadelphia in 2010 and at Toronto in 2007 in Claret-Cobalt debuts at those cities. Overall, in first-ever visits to an opponent, RSL is now 2-20-4, which includes the 2005 expansion season when the Claret-and-Cobalt posted an 0-10-1 mark against the other 11 opponents in debut games. RSL drew at the Meadowlands against the MetroStars in its first-ever match, then lost 10 straight.
O CAPTAIN OUR CAPTAIN, WHEN WILL THEE RETURN?
Fifth-year MF Damir Kreilach was named RSL’s Captain during the preseason following the free agency departure of Albert Rusnák. Kreilach becomes the Club’s sixth mainstay captain in the Club’s history, following the footsteps of M/F Jason Kreis (2005-07), MF Carey Talley (2007), MF Kyle Beckerman (2008-20) and Rusnák (2021). Kreilach – referenced by Mastroeni as the team’s “X FACTOR” – continues the 2022 season as the team’s leading active goal scorer (fourth all-time), with 43 goals to go along with 23 assists in reg. season play.
Due to calf and back injuries this year, and a shortened offseason and a Covid-laden preseason, Kreilach has only started three of the 12 games this year, coming off the bench for short stints in three others. Veteran DF Marcelo Silva has worn the band in eight of the nine games missed by Kreilach, with GK Zac MacMath also serving as the team’s leader in the one game – March 19 v Nashville – missed by Silva (toe).
Real Salt Lake Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni began his first full season as the Club’s sixth-ever permanent head coach Feb. 27 in Houston. As RSL’s interim manager for the final 100 days of 2021, Mastroeni posted a combined reg. season / postseason record of 8-8-1, leading a shock “Cinderella” run to the West Final in Portland, RSL’s fifth Conference Final appearance since 2008. With 10 Conf. Semi appearances in the last 14 years, RSL is second only to Seattle in terms of perennial MLS Cup Playoff advancement from 2008-21.
Mastroeni’s all-time RSL record is now 14-11-5 (47 pts), while his all-time MLS coaching record is currently 53-63-40 (196 pts) in reg. season / playoffs combined. Pablo spent one year as an assistant in Houston on Tab Ramos’ staff in 2020 before coming to RSL to join Freddy Juarez’ staff in February, 2021. With Colorado from 2014-16, Mastroeni led RSL’s Rocky Mountain Cup rivals to their best-ever regular-season in 2015. The former U.S. Men’s National Team stalwart played 7 matches in the 2002 / 2006 World Cups for current Revolution boss Bruce Arena, part of his 65-appearance career with USMNT.
RSL EAST COAST HISTORY
In the Eastern Time Zone, RSL is now just 15-41-20 all-time / all competitions, outscored in the previous 76 matches by an aggregate score of 149-75. Five of the 15 wins and 16 of the 75 goals have come in New England, with RSL at .500 or better in NE (5-4-3), PHI (1-1-4) and Cincinnati (1-0-0). RSL owns two wins or fewer in the other eight ET cities – Toronto (2-5-2), Columbus (2-10-2), NYCFC (1-2-0), NYRB (1-6-4), D.C. (1-7-3), Montreal (1-4-0), Orlando (0-1-2) and Atlanta (0-1-0). RSL heads out to Atlanta on July 13 for its final East Coast trip this year.
FIVE CONSECUTIVE SEASON-OPENING SELLOUTS FOR FIRST TIME EVER
RSL experienced an unprecedented fifth consecutive sellout two weeks ago against Austin, the first time in the Club’s 18-year history to start the season with five straight SRO crowds. What will Saturday on Memorial Day Weekend bring for Jefferson Savarino’s return?
Back on March 19 at Rio Tinto Stadium, 20,036 fans attended to give the Utah side its first back-to-back 20k crowds since late Summer 2016, and its first March with 40,000+ tickets sold since the 2013 and 2015 seasons. With RSL selling out the RioT April 9 against Toronto for 20,136 fans, it marked the first three-game sellout streak to open a season since 2015, and only the second ever.
In that fateful non-Playoff 2015 season, RSL sold out 11 of the Club’s 17 home reg. season contests, including seven straight from late June through mid-September. RSL’s next home match – Sat., May 28 against Houston – kicks off a run that sees five of eight at home for the Utah side, the last team in MLS to host back-to-back home matches (June 18/25 v San Jose & Columbus).
HOME SWEET HOME
Currently, RSL owns an MLS-best regular season home record of 128-36-56, 440 points since 2009 (includes one “road” match against RioT tenant Vancouver in 2021). With a 4-0-1 home mark in 2022, and four of the next six matches in Sandy starting Saturday against Houston (and six of next nine), perhaps a dominant home Summer of Soccer is in order for Mastroeni’s troops.
In Sandy, Utah, RSL has enjoyed a prominent home-field advantage – posting a dominant 150-44-47 (Win-Loss-Draw) record across all competitions at home (2.06 points per game for a 0.720 win pct.) – since opening its permanent Rio Tinto Stadium venue in Sandy on Oct. 8, 2008, more than 13 years ago.
In 2021, RSL earned a 9-4-4 home record and set a new Club mark for most consecutive home wins, earning seven straight victories. Rio Tinto Stadium will host seven home matches in 11 games over 10 weeks between May 14 – July 23, including the Rocky Mountain Cup vs. Colorado on July 9 and hosting rival Sporting Kansas City on July 17 as the club looks to build upon its league-best regular season home mark and retain the Rocky Mountain Cup for the 13th time in 18 seasons. With back-to-back home games June 18/25, RSL becomes the 28th and final MLS side with home games in such close proximity.
TERRIBLE TIMES ON TURF
RSL owns an all-time MLS regular-season and playoff mark of just 15-39-19 (W-L-T) on artificial surfaces across the league since its 2005 inaugural campaign. Last Saturday, April 23 at Portland, with a 0-0 draw, RSL snapped an overall five-game winless streak at Providence Park. In those 73 all-time games on the fake stuff, the Utah side has been outscored 127-74. RSL is now 5-4-3 all-time at Foxborough against the Revolution, the March 12 win at Gillette Stadium snapping a three-game winless streak. In both 2015 and 2017, RSL lost 0-4 in turf drubbings, prior to a 0-0 draw in its last visit to Gillette, in 2019. From 2010-13, RSL did win three consecutive road matches against the Revs by an aggregate score of 6-2. Next time out on the fake stuff? Next Saturday, June 4 at Vancouver.
INJURY BUG SLOWLY SUBSIDING / SQUAD ROTATION
With Sunday’s introduction of loanee DF Chris Kablan late in the match at Montreal, Real Salt Lake boss Pablo Mastroeni has now used 26 players in the first 13 games this season, including eight RSL debutants in 2022.
Including Kablan, eight players have now made their RSL debuts this season, including Bundesliga loanee Sergio Cordova & MLS free agents Scott Caldwell and Johan Kappelhof, homegrowns Jaziel Orozco & Bode Davis, MLS SuperDraft pick Jasper Löffelsend and Monarchs college free agent Pierre Reedy, a roster hardship addition prior to April 2 at Colorado.
RSL Captain Damir Kreilach, FW Rubio Rubin, GK David Ochoa, DF Justen Glad, DF Aaron Herrera – each of whom played key roles in last year’s postseason run – have missed significant time through the first third of 2022. DF Erik Holt & M/F Joni Menendez – each of whom suffered injuries during or after the March 26 match at Kansas City (along with DF Johan Kappelhof & Löffelsend) – have also missed extensive time, but returned to full, uninhibited training this week.
Captain Damir Kreilach scored his 43rd career RSL/MLS reg. season goal April 9 against Toronto, leaving him three goals shy of matching former Claret-and-Cobalt fan favorite Joao Plata for third place among the Club’s all-time scoring register (46 goals). Costa Rican legend Alvaro Saborio leads with 63 goals in his illustrious RSL career, followed by Javier Morales at 49 goals.
Soon-to-arrive FW Jefferson Savarino – the author of 21 RSL goals from 2017-19 – needs 10 goals to move up to eighth in RSL’s all-time scoring ledger, past FW Yura Movsisyan (31 goals) and MF Kyle Beckerman (30). Savarino also ranks sixth in RSL’s career assist annals, with 21 – just two behind Kreilach, well shy of such luminaries as Morales, Joao Plata, Albert Rusnák, Beckerman and Andy Williams.
RSL DF Aaron Herrera went the full 90 for the first time this year a month ago at NYCFC, making his 100th career MLS regular-season appearance, the second Homegrown to surpass the century mark (DF Justen Glad, 166 games / 161 starts). Herrera has now made 105 appearances / 100 starts for RSL in MLS reg. season play since his RSL Academy / Univ. of New Mexico career. In that time, he has scored one goal (July 17, 2021 at LAFC) and notched 16 assists, including a team-high 11 last season.