Major League Soccer is officially continuing the regular season in home markets and Real Salt Lake will return to Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday, August 26 against LAFC. The match will be the first at Rio Tinto Stadium since March 7 when RSL hosted the New York Red Bulls in its 2020 home opener.
Prior to hosting LAFC, RSL will continue its abbreviated season after reaching the Round of 16 of the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida, last month when it faces Rocky Mountain Rival Colorado Rapids on August 22. MLS and Real Salt Lake announced phase one of its continuation of play, a slate that will see RSL play six matches within the first phase with more match dates and opponents set to be released at a later date.
Here’s a look at RSL’s matchups and the dates in which it will play during phase one.
Colorado Rapids (Saturday, August 22 and Saturday, September 12)
Having faced an all too familiar opponent from Colorado in its opening contest of the MLS is Back Tournament, RSL continues the season at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on August 22 in what is always an entertaining affair. On July 12, RSL claimed a dominant 2-0 victory over Colorado to open Group C in Florida. The win helped solidify RSL’s spot in the knockout round of the tournament as goals from Albert Rusnák and Damir Kreilach secured the win.
Colorado on the other hand failed to advance out of Group C, finishing with just one point from three matches to finish last in the group. With losses to RSL and Sporting Kansas City before a 2-2 draw with Minnesota, the Rapids will be looking to right the ship when it returns home to Denver to welcome RSL.
During the first phase of continuation of play, the two sides will face one another twice with Colorado making the return trip to Utah on September 12. While RSL has been dominant against the Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium, playing to a 15-3-6 record in Utah since 2005, anything goes in this abbreviated season as teams fight for playoff positions in a short amount of time.
LAFC (Wednesday, August 26)
Although Los Angeles Football Club hasn’t been in the league long, it has made a lot of noise in its short time in MLS. The defending Supporters’ Shield winners visit Rio Tinto Stadium after bowing out of the MLS is Back Tournament quarterfinal in July. LAFC carries multiple weapons that Head Coach Bob Bradley deploys with the likes of Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi in the attack. Vela – who did not participate in the tournament – will likely make his highly anticipated return to the field alongside Rossi who already has six goals to his name in 2020.
RSL has only seen one victory over LAFC since the California team entered the league in 2018, a win that came in an entertaining Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round contest at Banc of California Stadium. Can the Karate Kid that is Damir Kreilach replicate his 2018 playoff performance again in 2020? We’ll find out during the midweek clash.
Portland Timbers (August 29)
An MLS is Back Tournament finalist, Portland may provide the most unique test for RSL during phase one. With the Timbers going the distance to the final in Florida, the hosts will likely be in form and comfortable at home within the confines of Providence Park in downtown Portland where historically it has seen success. As has been the case over the last several seasons, the Timbers will be led by Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco who performed to their league-leading abilities in Florida en route the final.
Adding a layer of intrigue to the contest will be RSL attempting to halt the extraction of revenge from Portland after RSL ended Portland’s playoff hopes in 2019 with a late 2-1 victory over the Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium in the Knockout Round.
Seattle Sounders FC (September 2)
After visiting the Pacific Northwest, a similar storyline for RSL awaits when the defending MLS Cup champions visit Sandy for another midweek contest. On its way to emphatically claiming its second MLS Cup crown, the Sounders knocked out RSL in the Western Conference Semifinals by a 2-0 scoreline. RSL will then look to extract a bit of revenge over the Sounders with a bit of history on its side. The last time the Sounders visited Utah, RSL claimed a dominant 3-0 victory in August 2019.
Minnesota United (September 5)
In its final trip away from Utah during Phase 1, RSL visits another MLS is Back Tournament semifinalist when it faces yet another familiar opponent in Minnesota. Joining RSL in Group C in Florida, the teams played to a scoreless draw in each team’s second match of the tournament on the way to both advancing to the knockout stage. The match will be RSL’s second visit to Allianz Field after falling 3-1 to The Loons in September 2019.