As Real Salt Lake waits for the 2020 season’s hiatus to lift, we at the club reflected on some of our favorite moments in team history and wanted to see what you the fan’s favorite RSL moment is. Below we’ve put together a bracket of 16 of the most iconic moments in team history.
Beginning Wednesday at 9am MT, fans can vote for their favorite moment within each matchup with one matchup being decided each day. Voting will take place on RSL.com. The Final Four of the RSL Bracket Challenge will be presented by Pepsi.
RSL Wins 2009 MLS Cup
On November 22, 2009, RSL topped the star-studded LA Galaxy in a penalty shootout to complete one of the great underdog stories in MLS history. After drawing 1-1 with Los Angeles in regulation, Robbie Russel stepped up to the spot as RSL’s seventh shooter and sent the ball into the bottom left corner of the net, sending the RSL faithful into pandemonium. Nick Rimando was voted the MLS Cup MVP after his performance throughout the playoffs, the final and the shootout. The victory remains one of the most recognized major sports victories in Utah’s history.
In the final match of the 2008 season, Yura Movsisyan sent RSL into the playoffs for the very first time, scoring in second half stoppage time at the Rapids to earn a 1-1 draw and book its ticket. Just days later in the 90th minute, Movsisyan again created magic in its first-round clash against Chivas USA when his right-footed, backheel flick found the back of the net for the 1-0 win. The win marked RSL’s first victory in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The First RioT
On October 9, 2008, RSL hosted the New York Red Bulls in the first match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy. In front of a sell-out crowd of 20,008, RSL fell behind before Jamison Olave’s equalizing goal at the north end saw the league’s newest venue erupt for the very first time. The match ended in a 1-1 draw as the RSL faithful left knowing their new home would be something special.
RSL Lands Identity
After two less-than-ideal seasons to open the team’s tenure in MLS, RSL made drastic changes in 2007 as its captain and first-ever signing Jason Kreis was named the Head Coach and goalkeeper Nick Rimando joined the club after the sudden retirement of Scott Garlick. Midway through the 2007 season, RSL landed Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman and from then all-four players would become club legends by leading the team to prominence in the MLS landscape.
2005 Home Opener
After playing the first two regular season matches of its existence on the road to open its inaugural season in 2005, RSL finally played its first match at Rice Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah. 25,000+ fans packed into the stadium to see Utah’s professional soccer team host its Rocky Mountain rival Colorado Rapids on April 16. Fans had to wait until the 87th minute to see the first home goal when Brian Dunseth headed home a Clint Mathis freekick to seal the 1-0 victory. From that day, the RSL fans knew that the flag had been plated.
Following the 2019 regular season, RSL and MLS legend Nick Rimando said goodbye to the game after 20 seasons where he became the league’s all-time leader in matches played (514), starts (514), saves (1,705), shutouts (154) & minutes played (46,366). In 2019, Rimando became the first player in league history to feature in 500 regular season matches, adding yet another incredible milestone to his illustrious 20-year career in MLS.
Jamsion Olave Wins 2010 Defender of the Year
A menacing presence and the anchor of one of the best defensive teams in MLS history, Jamsion Olave was named the 2010 MLS Defender of the Year after helping the club to a second-place finish in the West while only allowing 20 goals the entire season.
Saborio Scores in Seconds
After being sidelined for nearly four months, Alvaro Saborio – RSL’s all-time leading scorer returned to the pitch on September 7, 2014 as a second half substitute. Saborio had missed the majority of the summer as well as the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and just 14 seconds after coming onto the pitch in the 76th minute ahead of a corner kick opportunity for RSL, he announced his return to the team in style. Javier Morales’ corner kick found the head of Saborio who sent a looping header up and over the goalkeeper to put RSL ahead 2-1.
2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League Run
Building on an impressive stretch of seasons since winning the 2009 MLS Cup, RSL reached the final of the CCL after winning its group, beating Columbus Crew SC, Costa Rica’s Saprissa before facing Mexico’s Monterrey in the two-leg final. RSL managed a 2-2 draw at Monterrey in the first leg behind Javier Morales’ stoppage time heroics before the return leg in Sandy. Leg two saw RSL host Monterrey as it looked to become the first MLS side to win CCL with a scoreless draw at minimum. However, it was the visitors who claimed the 1-0 victory, breaking the hearts of RSL and MLS alike. Despite the loss, RSL further solidified its place as an elite side in MLS and strengthened the MLS footprint in world soccer.
Albert’s Equalizer, Winner in Houston
On August 18, 2018, RSL entered second half stoppage time down 1-0 at the Dynamo when RSL midfielder Albert Rusnák unleashed an incredible left-footed shot from the top of the area in the 93rd minute that clattered off the far post and in to level the score. After an extended stoppage time, RSL drew a penalty kick in the 100th minute of play which Albert dispatched comfortably. The come-from-behind moment was the first time that an equalizer and game-winning goal were scored by the same player in stoppage time in league history.
RSL vs. Real Madrid; RioT Groundbreaking
On August 12, 2006, RSL hosted world soccer giant Real Madrid at Rice Eccles Stadium as superstars Fabio Cannavaro, David Beckham, Robinho, Raul and Ruud Van Nistelrooy among others came to Utah. As part of the celebrations surrounding Madrid’s arrival in Utah, both teams and executives helped break ground on Rio Tinto Stadium as RSL looked to solidify its place in the Utah community.
Home Unbeaten Record
From 2009-2011, Real Salt Lake did not lose a home match as it went 25 home games – good for the second best stretch in MLS history on the way to practically dominating the 2010 and 2011 seasons in MLS.
Run to the 2013 MLS Cup Final
Finishing second in the Western Conference ahead of the MLS Cup Playoffs, RSL entered the conference semifinals against the Galaxy in a two-leg series where it won by a 2-1 aggregate scoreline. Moving into the conference final, RSL welcomed the Portland Timbers where it dominated the Oregon side 4-2 in Leg 1 before solidifying its place in MLS Cup with a 1-0 win in Portland. Facing Sporting Kansas City in the Final, RSL took the lead behind an Alvaro Saborio strike before Sporting leveled the match in controversial fashion. A penalty kick shootout ensued before RSL ultimately fell 7-6 in the shootout.
RSL Runs Over Galaxy
Since RSL entered the league as the 12th team, RSL and the Galaxy have played to some memorable matches and generated a sort of rivalry between the two sides. In 2017, RSL visited the Galaxy and thumped the hosts 6-2. One year later, the Galaxy – with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in tow – arrived at Rio Tinto Stadium and a venue-record crowd of 21,363. After falling behind early, RSL stormed back and again topped the Galaxy by a 6-2 scoreline behind a hattrick from Damir Kreilach.
On November 1, 2018, RSL travelled to expansion side LAFC for the knockout round clash at Banc of California Stadium. RSL ultimately claimed the 3-2 victory but the match was highlighted by a brace from Damir Kreilach which included one of the best goals the MLS Cup Playoffs have ever seen. As the ball popped out of the box in second half, Kreilach was waiting outside the penalty area and as the ball dropped out of the air, the Croatian met it with a flying scissor kick volley that clattered off the far post and into the back of the net.
Beckerman and Rimando at the 2014 FIFA World Cup
Through the qualifying cycle for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando became regular call-ups to the U.S. Men’s National Team before earning a spot on the final roster to travel to Brazil. Beckerman was highly regarded as a standout performer through the group stages for the U.S. as it advanced out of the ‘Group of Death’. Rimando served as the third-choice goalkeeper on Jurgen Klinsmann’s team for the tournament. Upon their arrival back to Utah and RSL after the World Cup, the duo was welcomed at Rio Tinto Stadium as heroes when fans gathered at the stadium early to welcome them out for the team’s warmup before a match against the New England Revolution.
Is there a moment we missed on our list of 16 top moments for RSL? Leave us a comment and let us know your favorite moment in RSL’s history.