Real Salt Lake Tryouts & Club Guide: History, Stadium, Players, and More!
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Real Salt Lake, often shortened to RSL, is an American professional soccer franchise based in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. The club competes as a member club of Major League Soccer (MLS) in the Western Conference.
Real Salt Lake Youth Development System
Real Salt Lake Academy
The Real Salt Lake Youth Development Academy was created to enhance the developmental process of youth soccer players all across the region, from 7 to 18 years old. The RSL YDA offers world-class facilities, professional training, and technological resources to assure that players are progressing and reaching their individual goals.
Real Salt Lake Discovery Program
The Real Salt Lake Youth Development Academy Discovery Program was created to enhance the developmental process of youth soccer players all across Utah, from 7 to 14 years old. The RSLYDA Discovery Program offers world-class facilities, professional training, and technological resources to assure that players are progressing and reaching their individual goals. Along with player development, the Discovery Program will incorporate a RSL Coaching Education Program to provide community coaches with an opportunity to gain insight and knowledge of the game and learn the RSL Way, beginning in 2018.
Real Salt Lake believes in supporting local clubs and the opportunities these clubs provide to all youth soccer players in Utah. Players will be identified, scouted, and invited to participate in the Discovery Program based on several criteria that the RSLYDA coaching staff has created. The Discovery Program will supplement existing local club practice schedules by providing an elite training program and special events for invited players to attend. Players will be able to continue to enjoy their club soccer experience while simultaneously learning the RSL Way.
All of the costs of the program are covered by RSL so there is no cost to the player. This includes the full training kit that is provided.
Real Salt Lake Player Selection
Players can be selected for the RSL Discovery Program in three ways:
- Scouting Identification
- Personal Player Application
- Youth Programs Identification
Real Salt Lake Programming Details
U-9 to U-14
RSLYDA staff will select a pool of 25 players from each age group for a weekly training session in 6 session cycles.
Their respective club’s technical director will notify the players that are selected for the RSL Discovery Program. Every 6 weeks a list of players will be sent out to every club technical director, notifying them of the players selected.
Real Salt Lake How to be scouted?
The YDA scouting department has been scouting games, trainings, scrimmages and tournaments since early 2017. With the YDA scouting department seeing tens of thousands of players in this time, we understand that there are still some talented players that we haven’t seen yet. There are also players that were observed that were either not having their best game or perhaps not present when the game was being scouted.
For these and other reasons we feel it important to have 1) recommendations from club DOC’s and coaches 2) input from parents.
Real Salt Lake Tournaments
For the latest tournament information, please click here.
Real Salt Lake Programs and Camps
For upcoming program and camp information, please click here.
Real Salt Lake Affiliate Teams
Real Salt Lake Recruitment Trials
At the time of this writing, there is an official link from Real Salt Lake with a trial form. Please click here to visit their web page. (Updated April 2022 – link active)
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Real Salt Lake Overview
Real Salt Lake, or simply RSL, is a Major League Soccer (MLS) club in the Western Conference that represents the United States in professional soccer. In 2005, RSL joined the league as an expansion team. An expansion franchise in Major League Soccer was awarded to the team’s inaugural owner and founder in 2004.
They share Rio Tinto Facility with their sister team, the Utah Royals FC, which is a soccer-specific stadium located in Sandy, Utah, a Salt Lake City suburb. Rice-Eccles Stadium, on the University of Utah’s campus, served as RSL’s home ground from 2005 to 2007. Freddy Juarez, the team’s temporary coach, is presently in charge. Real Salt Lake won the Major League Soccer Cup in 2009, the Supporters’ Shield in 2010, and the U.S. Open Cup in 2013.
They also finished second in the MLS Cup in 2013. It was in the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League when RSL became the first American club to go to the final stage of the tournament, since the CONCACAF Champions League format was implemented in 2008. In 2019, Real Monarchs, the club’s fully-owned USL affiliate, won the USL Championship, the second tier championship in American soccer. ‘Royal’ is a translation of the Spanish word for’real.’ Clubs with royal patronage in Spain, such as Real Madrid, Real Zaragoza, Real Betis and Real Sociedad, are known as “Real Madrids” in the English language. When naming his team Real, owner Dave Checketts hoped to develop a brand name that would be remembered for its simplicity as well as a connection to Real Madrid’s world-famous club.
Dave Checketts’ enthusiasm for Real Madrid during his time as general manager of the NBA’s Utah Jazz team was a factor in the decision to use Real. Having a basketball team at Real Madrid was also energizing to Checketts. There was initially a divided reception to the new team’s name among the community. Other names like “Highlanders,” “Salt Lake SC,” or “Union SLC” were more popular, and others considered the name was too contrived and did not really reflect the city of Salt Lake. However, by at least 2014, the team had established its identity as a representative of Salt Lake City, and the name had become less controversial.
Real Salt Lake History
Early years (2005–2006)
When Major League Soccer awarded an expansion license to Dave Checketts’ SCP Worldwide on July 14, 2004, Real Salt Lake became the twelfth MLS franchise. After being acquired from the Dallas Burn in a trade, Jason Kreis became the first player in RSL history. RSL’s early years also saw the likes of stalwarts Clint Mathis, Eddie Pope, and Jeff Cunningham take the field.
RSL’s inaugural season occurred in 2005, when John Ellinger served as head coach. On April 2, 2005, RSL and the New York MetroStars played to a scoreless draw at Giants Stadium to open their season. Later, in a 3–1 loss against LA Galaxy, Jason Kreis netted the first goal in franchise history. Brian Dunseth scored a header in the 81st minute to give RSL a 1–0 win over the Colorado Rapids in their first ever home match on April 16, 2005, in front of 25,287 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium. In spite of this, the season was a disappointment, as the team’s 557-minute scoreless stretch set a league record (later broken by Toronto FC). Prior to a 2–2 draw away at the San Jose Earthquakes, they were also on a 10-game losing streak. At the conclusion of the inaugural year, the team had a record of 5–22–5. In the first six games of Real Salt Lake’s second season in 2006, the squad suffered five defeats and one draw. RSL had lost their previous 18 games in a row, the longest losing skid in the history of Major League Soccer (MLS). Most of Real Salt Lake’s highlights came from Jeff Cunningham, who moved from Colorado to Salt Lake City. The team finished the season with a record of 10–13–9.
Turnaround and new stadium (2007–2008)
Luis Tejada, a recently signed Panamanian international, bolstered Real Salt Lake’s attack with Cunningham and Kreis. Veteran midfielders Chris Klein and Carey Talley, as well as freshly recruited goalkeeper Nick Rimando, aided and abetted them. FC Dallas and Real Madrid drew 2–2 in their season-opening match of the 2007 MLS season. The next three games saw RSL beaten 6–0. Ellinger was abruptly fired and replaced by Kreis, who promptly announced his retirement from the game. In addition, Steve Pastorino, the previous general manager, left and was succeeded by Garth Lagerwey. Throughout the year, the franchise undertook an extensive renovation effort. The squad concluded the season with a dismal 6–15–9 record, failing to qualify for the playoffs for the third straight year.
After appointing Garth Lagerwey as the team’s new general manager in 2008, RSL brought in a number of high-profile players, including Kyle Beckerman and Robbie Findley. Real became a power in their own backyard as their chemistry developed. With the inauguration of Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy’s new soccer-specific stadium, in October 2008, the team’s home field advantage increased significantly. They finished the regular season with an 8–1–6 record at home. RSL made the playoffs for the first time in 2008 after finishing the season with a record of 10–10–10. Chivas USA was eliminated in the first round of playoffs by RSL. A RSL loss to the New York Red Bulls in the Western Conference finals terminated the post-season.
MLS and CONCACAF success (2009–2012)
RSL had a record of 9–1–5 in Rio Tinto Stadium in the 2009 MLS season, with a record-setting +23 goal difference. Since May 2009, Real Salt Lake has not lost a league game at home. However, the team was unable to continue its momentum when playing on the road.’ RSL was fighting for the final two slots in the MLS playoffs in the closing weeks of the regular season. RSL secured a spot in the 2009 MLS playoffs, though, with a win over Colorado in the season’s final match. Due to their overall record of 11–12, the team was awarded last place in a tie-breaker. On November 22, 2009, Real Salt Lake defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS Cup Final to win the championship. RSL won the MLS Cup 5–4 on penalties after a 1–1 overtime draw with the L.A. Galaxy.
It was a penalty kick that gave Robbie Russell the win. The game’s most valuable player was goalkeeper Nick Rimando. RSL qualified for the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League by winning the MLS Cup in 2009. RSL’s home unbeaten streak was maintained in the 2010 season. Real Salt Lake’s home unbeaten record was extended to 25 games on October 16, 2010 when they overcame FC Dallas. Real Salt Lake now has the longest winning streak in MLS history at home. With zero losses in the 2010 regular season, RSL equaled the San Jose Earthquakes 2005 record for a single-season home unbeaten streak. A 15–4–11 record earned Real Salt Lake second place in the Supporters Shield race. Both Nick Rimando and Jámison Olave were voted MLS Defender of the Year for their efforts in goal. However, RSL was knocked out of the MLS playoffs by FC Dallas in the first round.
Real Salt Lake was assigned to CONCACAF Champions League Group A together with Mexican club Cruz Azul, Canadian club Toronto FC, and Panamanian club Arabe Unido for the 2010–11 season. A 3–0 home record and 1–1–1 away record earned Real Salt Lake the top spot in Group A. After reaching the quarterfinals of the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League in the spring of 2011, RSL continued to compete. During the round of 16, Real Salt Lake defeated the Columbus Crew 4–1 over the course of two games to get to the semifinals. Real Salt Lake defeated Saprissa by a score of 2–0 at home in the semifinals, but fell short in the away leg by a score of 1–2. Real Madrid made it to the CONCACAF Champions League finals for the first time with a 3–2 series win. Monterey hosted Real Salt Lake in the first leg of their finals matchup. Javier Morales scored in the 89th minute to give RSL a 2–2 draw, and the game ended in a penalty shootout. At Rio Tinto Stadium on April 27, 2011, Monterrey won the second leg of the final 3–2 on aggregate, giving them a 3–1 aggregate victory.
RSL’s home unbeaten streak in the 2011 MLS season came to an end on May 28th, 2011, as they were defeated by the Seattle Sounders FC. As a result of their regular-season record of 15-11-8, Real was able to secure third place in the Western Conference. Seattle Sounders FC was eliminated from the MLS playoffs after a 3–2 aggregate loss to RSL. RSL was knocked out of the conference finals after a 3–1 loss to the LA Galaxy.
LA qualified for the 2012–13 CONCACAF Champions League by winning the 2011 MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield, while RSL had the second-best overall record. Second place in the Western Conference during the regular season in 2012 went to Real Madrid. RSL was ousted from the playoffs after losing to Seattle in the Conference Semifinals. RSL was in Group 2 of the 2012–13 CONCACAF Champions League with Costa Rica’s Herediano and Panama’s Tauro, but the team was ousted in the group stage of the competition.
New ownership, managers, and academy (2013–present)
Dell Loy Hansen purchased Checketts’ share in Real Salt Lake in 2013. Jámison Olave, Fabián Espndola, and Will Johnson were all traded prior to the start of the season. With a record of 16–10–8 (W-L-T), RSL finished in second place in the Western Conference and advanced to the Open Cup and MLS Cup finals, where they lost to D.C. United and Sporting Kansas City.
Long-time assistant Jeff Cassar took over after Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis departed for New York City FC’s first head coaching job after the season. With a record of 15–8–11 and 56 points, the team finished third in the Western Conference in 2014 and qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League for the 2015–16 season. When it came time for the MLS Cup Playoffs, the eventual champion LA Galaxy beat RSL 5–0 in aggregate to eliminate them in the conference semifinals.
Sporting Kansas City’s semi-final defeat against Real Salt Lake in the 2015 Open Cup was a turning point in the team’s 2015 season, which had started with five straight wins. RSL also lost two crucial players, Nat Borchers and lvaro Saboro, who were traded away to Portland Timbers and D.C. United, respectively, during the season. The team failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007 despite the contributions of late-season acquisitions Luis Silva and Juan Manuel Martinez.
A 3-1 series loss against eventual Liga MX runner-up Tigres UANL in the 2015–16 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals ended their season in 2016. However, on their return to the playoffs in 2016, the Real Salt Lake team was again knocked out in the Western Conference play-in game, this time by the LA Galaxy, who won 3–1. Both Javier Morales and Jamison Olave, two venerable veterans, had their options not exercised by the team during the offseason. Coach Jeff Cassar was fired by the team three games into the 2017 season, as reported on March 20th, 2017.
For the two matches against the New York Red Bulls and Minnesota United, Daryl Shore was named interim head coach. It was announced on March 29th that Mike Petke would be taking over as head coach after the April 1 game against Minnesota United. The club finished one point short of making the playoffs after a stunning late-season surge. The new $78 million Training Center and Zion’s Bank Real Academy in Herriman, Utah, opened just in time for the 2018 season.
There was a great deal of appreciation for the facility’s year-round training amenities for Real Salt Lake, the NWSL franchise Utah Royals FC and men’s second division side Real Monarchs, as well as the men’s second division squad Utah Royals. The youth academy was relocated from Casa Grande, Arizona to this facility, making it easier for the team to find and nurture new players. Longtime goalkeeper Nick Rimando and defender Tony Beltran both hung up their cleats after a successful season in 2019. Mike Petke, the club’s head coach, was fired on August 11 after an incident with match officials during the 2019 Leagues Cup, which resulted in his dismissal.
Coach Freddy Juarez was initially named interim manager for the rest of the season, but he was later hired head coach following the season. Hansen’s shares in Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC, and Real Monarchs were sold by MLS on August 30, 2020, following criticism over his use of racist rhetoric.
Colors and Badge
The team’s official colors are claret red, cobalt blue, and real gold.
Real Salt Lake Stadium
Sandy, a Salt Lake City suburb, got its soccer stadium approved in 2005. But in 2006, a funding request was rejected by the public. In the absence of a proposal, Dave Checketts stated that it would be sold. Rochester, New York and St. Louis were among the communities that expressed interest in purchasing the franchise and bringing it to their city.
When Real Salt Lake finally reached an agreement after months of negotiations, it announced that they would begin building Real Salt Lake Stadium. Salt Lake County’s Debt Review Committee, on the other hand, voted against the stadium’s construction. Real Salt Lake’s owner responded by announcing that the team would be sold and most likely relocated outside of the Salt Lake City area following the 2007 campaign. The State Senate, on the other hand, approved a plan for a brand-new sports arena. Legislation authorizing $35 million in funding for the construction of Real Salt Lake’s new stadium was passed by the Utah House. The bill was signed by the governor. The stadium was built in Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City, and cost $110 million. Rio Tinto Group is the corporate sponsor of the Rio Tinto Stadium. Set for October 9, 2008, the stadium’s opening date.
The Colorado Rapids are regarded as Real Salt Lake’s biggest adversary due to their proximity geographically and their annual competition for the Rocky Mountain Cup. After Salt Lake City’s 2005 admission into Major League Soccer, a bipartisan “Committee of 10” comprised of supporters from each team began awarding the cup. Salt Lake has gained a 9–4 series lead over the Rapids despite being outplayed early on, and they currently hold the cup after winning it in 2017.
Sporting Kansas City, which was founded out of a 2011 preseason brawl and ultimately defeated RSL in the 2013 MLS Cup after a penalty shootout, has been RSL’s fiercest opponent since 2011, despite the fact that no annual trophy is at stake. As a result, the two clubs have been consistently engaged in a battle for supremacy in the Western Conference’s top division ever since, even during the rebuilding years of Real Salt Lake. Both Los Angeles-based teams and Seattle Sounders FC have smaller, fan-driven rivalries with the team. Seattle’s acquisition of Garth Lagerway, the general manager who established the team’s Golden Years in 2014, and their 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs encounter have led to the latter.
Supporters of Real Salt Lake (Salt City United, Rogue Cavaliers Brigade, Section 26, Riot Brigade, and La Barra) are all part of a larger unified umbrella group called The Riot.
Leo the Lion is the official mascot of Real Salt Lake.