Major League Soccer’s postseason kickoff brings with it multiple jaw-dropping, astounding moments that leave fans in complete awe at the pandemonium just witnessed, making each and every 90-minute affair anyone’s game, one where anything can happen – something Real Salt Lake fans are (thankfully) all too familiar with.
As we prepare to begin the Club’s 11th postseason run of the last 14 years, let’s take a look back at some of the greatest Real Salt Lake playoff moments – in chronological order.
- In 2008, just days after scoring the equalizing goal against Colorado Rapids to put Real Salt Lake in the Playoffs for the first time in Club history, Armenian Yura Movsisyan delivered yet another game-saving, heroic moment. In the 90th minute of the team’s postseason debut against 2005 expansion brethren Chivas USA, Movsisyan took a pass from Robbie Findley across the face of goal and back-heeled at the death for the first-ever Claret-and-Cobalt postseason score.
- The magical MLS Cup 2009 run began in Columbus, Ohio with a home-and-home series against the Crew. After winning game one, 1-0, at the RioT, Jason Kreis’ team traveled to Columbus where they quickly suffered two goals conceded to that year’s Supporters Shield winners. In the 37th minute, Javier Morales jumped on the end of a pass from Kyle Beckerman to find the back of the net and ignite the team’s offense, storming back to take the 4-2 aggregate series win.
- Riding high into the following match on the road, the Eastern Conference Final against Chicago Fire, RSL was held scoreless through 120 minutes of regulation and extra time. With the two sides deadlocked at 0-0 heading into a penalty shootout in Bridgeview, a prime Nick Rimando – in just his third year with the Club – made several saves to allow RSL to claw back into contention, blocking Fire veteran Brandon Prideaux’s shot in the frame to send Real Salt Lake to the MLS Cup 2009 Final, in Seattle, against the MLS “Galacticos” – a David Beckham/Landon Donovan-led LA Galaxy.
- Undoubtedly one of the most iconic RSL Playoff moments occurred in that very Final, when RSL's Robbie Russell found the back of the net in the seventh round of the penalty shootout, breaking a 1-1 regulation draw to give Utah its first major-league sporting title in nearly 40 years.
- Costa Rican Alvaro Saborio – the Club’s all-time leading goalscorer – cemented himself in MLS Cup Playoff history against the Seattle Sounders. In game one of a Western Quarterfinal series, Saborio scored a brace en route to an ultimately insurmountable 3-0 lead. Amazingly, his second goal doubled the home RSL lead with a lefty back-heel flick for one of RSL’s most memorable Playoff goals.
- In that same series, in the first half of second leg in Seattle, Rimando sprung outward to punch a cross out of a dangerous area, but unfortunately the ball fell directly to the feet of a Sounders player. With an open goal, due to Rimando’s positioning, the Seattle shot appeared to be going into the back of the net, but Tony Beltran sprinted in to head the ball away, preventing what seemed to be a sure goal.
- In 2013, RSL opened its postseason campaign with back-to-back defending champions, LA Galaxy. After suffering a 1-0 defeat in California on a scintillating Sean Franklin goal, RSL returned to Rio Tinto Stadium needing at least a 2-0 result to move on to the Conference Final. Sebastian Velasquez provided the first goal early in the match, but the Utah side went deep into extra time searching for the series-winner. An unlikely hero, centerback Chris Schuler, was there to tap in a cross off a free kick, ending the Galaxy’s quest for a three-peat, and leading RSL to advance.
- After a brief spell without a postseason berth, RSL returned with a bang in 2018. Facing upstart power LAFC on their home turf, the two sides battled back and forth for much of the match until Damir Kreilach scored one of the Club’s most infamous goals of all time, the karate kick. In the 58th minute, Kreilach collected a failed clearance about 20 yards out, channeling his inner Ralph Macchio to leap and karate kick far post to equalize and put RSL on the path towards victory.
- RSL’s most recent postseason run – 2019 – saw yet another shining example of late game heroics. In the Western Conference Quarterfinal, Real Salt Lake hosted rival Portland at the RioT. With the final moments dwindling down, extra time beckoning, Venezuelan forward Jefferson Savarino hit the game winner in the 87th minute, skirting his shot along the inside of the post to vault RSL to the Conference Semifinal, where it would ultimately fall to Seattle.
- Of course, this list would not be possible without Sunday night’s “Damiracle” at rival Kansas City, a magical “Decision Day” moment when winger Justin Meram bicycle-kicked his shot into the path of Damir Kreilach in the dying seconds of added time – 94:38 to be exact – to punch RSL’s improbable ticket to the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs with an incredibly dramatic 1-0 win.
But these are just a sampling of RSL’s incredible postseason history. With this year’s Round One match at Seattle Sounders on November 23 at 8:30 p.m. MT (FS1 / FOX Deportes), incredible moments are sure to keep coming for the Claret-and-Cobalt.