SANDY, Utah (Thursday, January 4, 2018) – In conjunction with Major League Soccer, today Real Salt Lake announced its 2018 regular-season schedule, unveiling the club’s 34-game league slate for its 14th MLS season.
The 17-game home calendar features hot-blooded rivalries for the club's annual Fireworks games to celebrate Independence Day (Wednesday, July 4 v. Sporting Kansas City) and Pioneer Day (Saturday, July 21 against Colorado Rapids). Back-to-back home games in mid-March highlight the early-season portion of 2018, with expansion LAFC arriving on Sat., March 10 at 1:30 p.m. MT in a nationally-televised home opener followed up by RSL Head Coach Mike Petke – now entering his first full season – welcoming his former club, the New York Red Bulls, on Saturday, March 17 in a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The 2018 RSL season – which starts on March 3 at Dallas and ends in late October – boasts a Saturday-heavy home slate, with ZERO Sunday home games – and includes an RSL bye in the 23-team league on the Sun., Oct. 28 MLS “Decision Day” finales – and just two non-holiday midweek home contests (Wed., May 30 v. Houston, and Thurs., Oct. 18 v. New England).
As previously announced, Real Salt Lake opens Rio Tinto Stadium against Western Conference expansion side Los Angeles FC (“LAFC”) at 1:30 p.m. MT on Saturday, March 10. Visit www.RSL.com or call 844.Real.Tix now to access 2018 Season Tickets and Flex Vouchers. Individual seats for the March 10 opener, starting at $25 and up depending on location, in the heavily-anticipated kickoff go on sale this Monday, Jan. 8, along with 2018 RSL “mini-packs.” The remainder of the 2018 RSL slate will be available on an individual basis starting in February.
Rio Tinto Stadium continues to provide a distinct home-field advantage for Real Salt Lake, with the club running its all-time Major League Soccer regular season record to 87-21-43 since opening the stadium on October 9, 2008. In home openers, RSL is now 5-0-8 all-time, with a 4-0-5 record at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The 2018 schedule sees RSL hosting five Eastern Conference sides with a combined road record of 6-22-14 on the Wasatch Front – as the New York Red Bulls (March 17), D.C. United (May 12), Chicago Fire (Aug. 4), Montreal Impact (Aug. 11) and New England (Oct. 18) arrive on Utah visits.
Meanwhile, RSL travels East on six occasions, visiting new venues in Orlando, Fla., (Sun., May 6 at Orlando City Stadium) and Atlanta, Ga., (Sat., Sept. 22 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium) for the first time. This year, RSL also travels to face the defending MLS Cup Champions Toronto FC (Fri., March 30), makes its second-ever jaunt to NYCFC and Yankee Stadium (Wed., April 11), and also visits the Philadelphia Union (Sat., May 19) and Columbus Crew SC (Sat., June 30).
Each of Real Salt Lake’s 11 Western Conference foes will engage in a home-and-away series with RSL, with the club’s one additional game being played against rival Colorado Rapids (against whom RSL has won nine of the last 11 Rocky Mountain Cups). The fan-created “derby” series against Colorado will feature two of its three 2018 matches on the Wasatch at Rio Tinto Stadium – Sat., April 21 (7:00 p.m MT kick) and Sat., July 21 (8:00 p.m. MT kickoff for Pioneer Day Fireworks) – before looking to secure regional bragging rights on the road at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday, August 25.
Real Salt Lake kicks off 2018 with three of its first five games at home, prior to a 6-week stretch from April 11 to May 26 that sees RSL play five of its next seven games away. Starting with a rare Memorial Day Weekend home game on Sat., May 30 against Houston, RSL plays eight of its next 12 MLS contests at home through mid-August, including the MLS hiatus observed in mid-June for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. As part of that stretch, RSL’s Independence Day spectacular against Sporting Kansas City on July 4 kicks off a run that sees the Claret-and-Cobalt host five of seven MLS matches at Rio Tinto Stadium, where the Utah-based side has enjoyed a prominent home-field advantage since building its permanent home in Sandy, boasting a dominant 105-26-44 mark in the world-class venue since opening in October, 2008.
Throughout an eight-month regular season that sees RSL observe three of four possible FIFA breaks (no games March 20-27, Sept. 4-1 and Oct. 9-16), the club will endure just two weeks that see it play three-games-in-eight-days: May 26 – June 2, as the Houston arrival is sandwiched between a trip to perennial Western elite Seattle and a return match against the very same Sounders; and June 30 – July 7, as the club’s trip to Columbus, Ohio, precedes back-to-back home games against Kansas City and Dallas.
The 2018 season will be the ninth time in the last 10 years that Real Salt Lake opens the regular season on the road (last year’s 0-0 home draw on March 4, 2017, with eventual MLS Cup Champion Toronto FC the lone exception), as RSL heads to Dallas carrying an eight-game unbeaten streak in MLS regular-season openers (5-0-3, win-loss-draw).
A road-heavy month of May sees RSL criss-cross the country twice to visit both coasts on back-to-back weekends, starting with an April 27 match at Vancouver followed by a May 6 visit to Orlando. The run of four road games in a span of five is broken up by a D.C. United tilt at Rio Tinto Stadium on Sat., May 12, before the team then heads to Philadelphia on May 19 and then May 26 at Seattle.
RSL’s lone three-game road trip of the year occurs in mid-August, as a trip to LAFC on Wednesday the 15th is followed by Saturday the 18th at Houston and Saturday the 25th at Colorado.
Real Salt Lake finished the 2017 season as one of the hottest teams in MLS, with an 8-3-4 W-L-D record over the final 15 matches, kickstarted by emphatic road wins at LA Galaxy (6-2) and Portland Timbers (4-1). With a mixture of youthful phenoms and savvy veterans, RSL was among the more exciting teams over the final half of the season and sets up for a dynamic squad under Petke’s guidance in 2018.
Real Salt Lake returns several players for its 2018 campaign, entering the club’s first full preseason under Petke and staff. International playmaker Albert Rusnák (Slovakia) and wingers Joao Plata (Ecuador) and Jefferson Savarino (Venezuela) each sparked the club’s late-season attack last year, while the quintet of USA U-20 CONCACAF Champions – DF Justen Glad, DF Danny Acosta, FW Brooks Lennon, MF Sebastian Saucedo and DF Aaron Herrera, all RSL Academy products – are joined by fellow homegrowns Jordan Allen and Jose Hernandez.
Veterans returning for 2018 include DF Marcelo Silva, who joined the club in August; 11-year icon Tony Beltran, fifth-year MF Luke Mulholland, third-year MF Sunday Stephen, and experienced Major League Soccer players in MF Luis Silva and DF David Horst. Joining that group are a trio of players who matriculated to the first team from the 2017 USL regular-season champion Real Monarchs: MF Nick Besler, GK Connor Sparrow and a Salt Lake City native, DF Taylor Peay.
Wednesday, RSL announced the acquisition of Spanish FW Alfredo Ortuño, with other re-signings and new acquisitions expected to be completed prior to the 2018 MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 19 and the commencement of the club’s preseason on Mon., Jan 22 in Herriman, Utah.
Season Tickets for Real Salt Lake's 2018 campaign at Rio Tinto Stadium are now on sale; please visit www.RSL.com/tickets/royalty or call 844.Real.Tix for more information. An overwhelming percentage of current Season Ticket Members have renewed prior to the early deadline, with several hundred STMs looking to upgrade locations and add seats for RSL's 14th year. The Rio Tinto Stadium box office is open Mon.-Fri., 10a-6p; more information can be found online at www.RSL.com/Tickets. Current or interested RSL Royalty Season Ticket Members can purchase extra tickets at preferred pricing or gain assistance via the Fan Relations Hotline at 801-727-2702.
Dates and times for international exhibitions and the club’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup participation will be announced in the near future, as will Real Salt Lake’s television, streaming and radio broadcast plans.
The March 10, 2018 home date against expansion LAFC – featuring RSL villain Benny Feilhaber, Mexican international Carlos Vela and respected American head coach Bob Bradley – marks the club’s second-earliest non-CONCACAF Champions League opener in its 14 seasons. All-time, RSL is 6-0-7 in its previous 13 home-opening MLS matches, including a 4-0-5 mark at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, dating back to 2009.
Elsewhere in the Claret-and-Cobalt pyramid, the Club’s other two professional teams – the inaugural NWSL Utah Royals FC and USL Real Monarchs – kick off their 2018 seasons weeks after Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer. Royals FC’s Rio Tinto Stadium schedule and Real Monarchs’ inaugural 2018 campaign at the Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman – are now on sale; please call 844.Real.Tix for more information.
Opening fully in preseason, Real Salt Lake is excited to indoctrinate the Zions Bank Real Academy in Herriman, Utah, approximately 20 minutes southwest of Rio Tinto Stadium. The $75 million facility will serve as the daily training home beginning in 2018 for both of the club's men’s professional teams – RSL (MLS) and Real Monarchs (USL) – while centralizing the club's U-19, U-17 and future U-15 development academy youth selections. The Herriman facility also provides adjacencies for an on-site charter school that opened last August, with STEM disciplines (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) for nearly 300 boys and girls.
In December in North Logan, Utah, RSL Owner Dell Loy Hansen cut the ceremonial ribbon on the first of a half-dozen regional training centers across Utah and Arizona to be built in the next 2-3 years. Each $6 million RTC houses a classroom, as well as an indoor and outdoor field, dedicated to fulfilling a curriculum dedicated to the club's vision and mission for youth soccer training and education, and the continued development of both recreational and competitive pre-Academy (ages 7-12) initiatives across Utah and Arizona.