When Real Salt Lake takes the pitch against the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, September 29th, the Club will make history, celebrating its first-ever Hispanic Heritage in observance of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual recognition of the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans and the role they have played in shaping and molding the United States of America into what it is today.
The observance takes place each year beginning on September 15th and continuing for 30 consecutive days until October 15th. Unlike other celebratory months, Hispanic Heritage Month begins mid-September as a nod to the anniversaries of several Spanish-speaking countries and their quest for independence.
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all won independence on September 15th, Mexico earned its independence on September 16th and Chile became independent on September 18th.
The celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month originated in 1968 when President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the first Hispanic Heritage Week which took place the week of September 15th. This tradition remained until President Ronald Reagan expanded it to include the entire month.
As of 2020 62.1 million citizens claim to have Hispanic or Latino roots, making up over 18 percent of the United States population, up 23 percent from 2010, making them the fastest-growing group in the country.
Within the Real Salt Lake organization, eight Hispanic nationalities are represented through players, coaches, and staff.
Currently, the two head coaches of the professional teams are both Hispanic, with Interim Head Coach of Real Salt Lake Pablo Mastroeni hailing from Argentina and Real Monarchs Head Coach Jamison Olave born in Colombia. Meanwhile, RSL Goalkeeper Coach Ignacio “Nacho” Hernandez is from Mexico.
Players of Hispanic decent make up nearly 38 percent of the Real Salt Lake roster, representing seven different countries, including Argentina (Jonathan Menéndez, Pablo Ruiz) Cuba (Maikel Chang), Ecuador (Anderson Julio), Honduras (Douglas Martinez), Mexico (Chris Garcia, David Ochoa, Rubio Rubin) Uruguay (Marcelo Silva) and Venezuala (Jeizon Ramirez).
Meanwhile, 33 percent of the Real Monarchs roster is Hispanic, with Brayan Gomez and Kevin Saucedo coming from Colombia, Julio Benitez and Jaziel Orozco with ties to Mexico, and Josimar Quintero from Ecuador.
RSL Academy players are heavily Mexican American, with nearly half coming from Hispanic households.
Additionally, the front office is similarly representative of the Hispanic American landscape, with employees who have lineage to Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico Puerto Rico, and Peru.
Real Salt Lake’s Hispanic Heritage Night, much like the purpose of the country’s Hispanic Heritage Month, will serve to honor those from the Hispanic community and recognize their contributions to help create the Club into what it is today.