This is the 13th part of a series in which we introduce Orlando City fans to the teams our Lions will be facing in 2015 when the team starts play in Major League Soccer. Today we take a look at Real Salt Lake.
What are the three most important things Orlando City fans need to know about RSL?
1. Real Salt Lake, founded in 2005, found early success hard to come by. It wasn’t until 2007, when Jason Kreis retired as a player and graduated to head coach, that things started looking up. It was not long after that, when Garth Lagerwey joined as general manager, that a solid foundation was formed.
2. “The team is the star” is more than just a catchphrase the team bandies about. It’s a descriptor of the way in which the squad has been constructed. There are no highly paid players—all three designated players (Alvaro Saborio, Javier Morales, and Sebastian Jaime) are only just in the salary range that necessitates the limited roster space, and several float in the wage area just below the limit. This relatively egalitarian method of roster-building is rare in MLS.
3. Despite winning an MLS Cup in 2009, there’s been a sense of slight underachievement since. Between finishing inches away from the Supporters Shield twice (2010, 2013), making another MLS Cup final—and falling on the tenth penalty (2013)—and dropping the second leg in the CONCACAF Champions League final and losing the most prestigious trophy on the continent (2011), RSL has been a good side that’s just missed out time and time again.
What nicknames, chants and slang are unique to Real Salt Lake, and can you please explain them if they aren’t readily apparent to the outsider?
MM: Acceptable nicknames: “RSL,” “Salt Lake.” Occasionally “Royals” sneaks in. “Lakers” is basically untenable, but some insist on using it regardless (blame the Utah Jazz and their rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers). The most notable chant is the “Believe” anthem written by Utah native Branden Steineckert (of Rancid fame), but “Olé, Olé, Olé” is widely heard as well.
What are the can’t-miss things to do when Orlando City fans visit an RSL game?
MM: Despite the popular misconception, both drinking and dancing remain legal in Utah. There are a number of bars and restaurants spread across the city (this is obvious), but popular haunts include Red Iguana (Mexican food near downtown Salt Lake City), the Bourbon House, Whiskey Street, and plenty of other non-prohibition-era bars. When in Utah, there are plenty of ice cream eateries about, too—despite the falsehood of the popular myth that Utah leads the nation in ice cream consumption. (It’s actually eighth in the nation.)
Who are the key players on Real Salt Lake that we should know about?
MM: Nick Rimando: The best active goalkeeper in MLS and one of the greatest in MLS history. He holds the all-time shutouts record.
Kyle Beckerman: RSL’s captain, Beckerman is a USMNT regular, a strong defensive midfielder, and a goal scorer on his best days.
Javier Morales: An Argentine playmaker. They’re all the rage in MLS, after all, but Morales was perhaps the progenitor of this modern era of Argentines leading midfields across the league.
Which RSL players do you think might get exposed in the upcoming MLS Expansion Draft?
MM: It’s difficult to say who’s left unprotected, and probably even more difficult to say who will be left protected. There will probably be surprises, but the veteran build of the team makes it difficult to predict anything other than a regular starting eleven here.
Much respect to Matt for taking the time to tell us about Real Salt Lake. We look forward to drinking and dancing in Salt Lake City after a big Orlando City victory.
Previous “Meet Our New Foes”:
Columbus Crew SC
New England Revolution
New York Red Bulls
Sporting Kansas City