|USA MLS||10/02 02:30||-|| LA Galaxy v Real Salt Lake ||D||1-1|
|Ameerika sõpruskohtumised||09/23 02:06||-||Real Salt Lake v Atlas||L||1-2|
|USA MLS||09/18 01:30||-|| Real Salt Lake v FC Cincinnati ||L||1-2|
|USA MLS||09/15 01:15||-|| Austin FC v Real Salt Lake ||L||3-0|
|USA MLS||09/11 01:30||-|| Real Salt Lake v DC United ||D||0-0|
|USA MLS||09/05 02:30||-|| Los Angeles FC v Real Salt Lake ||L||2-0|
|USA MLS||09/01 01:30||-|| Real Salt Lake v Minnesota United ||W||3-0|
|USA MLS||08/28 01:00||-|| FC Dallas v Real Salt Lake ||D||1-1|
|USA MLS||08/21 02:00||-|| Real Salt Lake v Vancouver Whitecaps ||D||1-1|
|USA MLS||08/15 02:00||-|| Seattle Sounders FC v Real Salt Lake ||W||1-2|
|USA MLS||08/07 02:00||-|| Real Salt Lake v Los Angeles FC ||L||1-4|
|USA MLS||07/31 02:00||-|| San Jose Earthquakes v Real Salt Lake ||D||2-2|
|Failed to score||16||5||11|
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. RSL began play in 2005 as an expansion team of the league. The club was founded in 2004 when the club's first owner and founder was awarded an expansion berth in Major League Soccer.
The club plays its home games at America First Field, a soccer-specific stadium located in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy, Utah, which they shared with their sister team, Utah Royals FC. Before moving to America First, RSL previously played home games at Rice-Eccles Stadium, located on the campus of the University of Utah, from 2005 to 2007. The team is currently led by head coach Pablo Mastroeni.
In domestic soccer, Real Salt Lake won the 2009 MLS Cup, and they finished as runners-up in the Supporters Shield in 2010, and the 2013 edition of the U.S. Open Cup. They were also runners-up in the 2013 MLS Cup. The franchise regional success to date was in the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League, where RSL finished runners-up in the tournament becoming the first American club, since the CONCACAF Champions League format was introduced in 2008, to advance to the final stage of the tournament. Their fully owned USL affiliate Real Monarchs won the USL Championship, the second division in American soccer, in 2019.
Real Salt Lake became the twelfth MLS franchise when Major League Soccer awarded an expansion franchise on July 14, 2004, to SCP Worldwide, headed by Dave Checketts. Jason Kreis became the first player in RSL history, coming in a trade from the Dallas Burn. Other notable players who played in RSL's early years included veterans Clint Mathis, Eddie Pope and Jeff Cunningham.
RSL's first season was 2005 under head coach John Ellinger. RSL began play on April 2, 2005, against New York MetroStars at Giants Stadium, which ended in a scoreless tie. The following week, Jason Kreis scored the first goal in franchise history in a 3–1 loss to LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center. RSL played its first-ever home match on April 16, 2005, before 25,287 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium; Brian Dunseth scored a header in the 81st minute to deliver a 1–0 victory over the Colorado Rapids. The season was mostly a disappointment, however, with the team setting a league record by posting a 557-minute scoreless streak (later broken by Toronto FC). They were also on a 10-game losing streak before managing a 2–2 draw on the road against San Jose Earthquakes. The first season finished with a record of 5–22–5.
In 2006, Real Salt Lake's second season, the team recorded five losses and one tie in the first six matches of the season. RSL had gone 18 consecutive matches without a victory—the longest winless streak in MLS history. Jeff Cunningham, who came to Salt Lake from Colorado, provided most of Real's highlights during an otherwise poor 2006 season. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs, finishing with a 10–13–9 record.
Real Salt Lake boasted a formidable attack with Cunningham and Kreis up front, joined by recently signed Panamanian international Luis Tejada. They were supported by veteran talent in the midfield and defense, such as Chris Klein, Carey Talley, and newly arrived goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Their first game of the 2007 MLS season was a 2–2 draw for FC Dallas on Real's home turf. RSL were outscored 6–0 in their next three games. In a stunning move, Ellinger was fired and replaced by Kreis, who immediately retired as a player. Also, general manager Steve Pastorino resigned and was later replaced by Garth Lagerwey. The franchise launched a massive re-construction project that continued throughout the year. The team finished with a disappointing 6–15–9 record, missing the playoffs yet again.
In the 2008 MLS season, working with new general manager Garth Lagerwey, RSL added several key players including Kyle Beckerman, Robbie Findley, Javier Morales, Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave. As Real established chemistry together, they emerged as a force when playing at home. The team's home field advantage improved dramatically in with the opening in October 2008 of Rio Tinto Stadium (now know as America First Field), the new soccer-specific stadium in Sandy. Through the regular season, their home record ended at 8–1–6. Finishing 2008 with a 10–10–10 record, RSL advanced to the playoffs for the first time. RSL advanced past Chivas USA in the first round of the playoffs. The post-season ended, however, with a RSL loss to the Red Bulls in the Western Conference final.
In the 2009 MLS season, RSL proved nearly invincible at home, having a 9–1–5 record in Rio Tinto Stadium (America First Field), with a record-setting +23 goal differential. Real Salt Lake did not lose a league game at home since May 2009. However, the team struggled to maintain form during road games. In the final weeks of the regular season, RSL found itself in a battle for the final two spots in the MLS playoffs. However, thanks to a victory over Colorado in the final game of the regular season, RSL clinched a position in the 2009 MLS playoffs. Despite finishing with a losing record overall (11–12–7), the team was granted the last spot through a tie-breaker. Real Salt Lake went on to win the 2009 MLS Cup by defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy in the November 22 final. RSL played the L.A. Galaxy to a 1–1 tie through overtime and won the MLS Cup (5–4 on penalties). Robbie Russell won the game on a penalty kick. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando was named Man of the Match. The victory in the 2009 MLS Cup qualified RSL for the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League.
The 2010 season saw RSL continue its home unbeaten streak. On October 16, 2010, Real Salt Lake improved their home unbeaten streak to 25 games after beating the FC Dallas. This win gave Real Salt Lake the most consecutive home games without a loss in MLS history. RSL tied San Jose Earthquakes 2005 record for a single-season home unbeaten streak with zero losses in the 2010 regular season. Real Salt Lake finished second in the race for the Supporters Shield with a (15–4–11) record. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando led the league with 14 shutouts, and Jámison Olave was named MLS Defender of the Year. In the MLS playoffs, however, RSL lost to FC Dallas in the first round.
For the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League, Real Salt Lake were placed in Group A with Cruz Azul of Mexico, Toronto FC of Canada and Arabe Unido of Panama. Real Salt Lake finished first in Group A, with a perfect 3–0 home record and a 1–1–1 away record. RSL continued its run in the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League knockout rounds in spring 2011. In the quarterfinals, Real Salt Lake advanced by beating the Columbus Crew 4–1 over two games. In the semi-finals, Real Salt Lake beat Saprissa 2–0 in the home leg, before losing the away leg 1–2. The 3–2 aggregate was enough for Real to advance and become the first MLS team to reach the CONCACAF Champions League finals. Real Salt Lake played the first leg of the finals at Mexican side Monterrey. RSL's Javier Morales scored in the 89th minute, ending the game in a 2–2 draw. The second leg of the final was held on April 27, 2011, at Rio Tinto Stadium (America First Field); Monterrey scored the only goal of the game, giving Monterrey a 3–2 aggregate victory.
In their 2011 MLS season, RSL's home unbeaten streak ended at 29 games on May 28, 2011, with their loss to the Seattle Sounders FC. Real finished the regular season with a 15–11–8 record and finished third in the western conference. In the MLS playoffs, RSL defeated Seattle Sounders 3–2 on aggregate. In the conference finals, RSL lost 3–1 to the LA Galaxy and were eliminated. RSL qualified for the 2012–13 CONCACAF Champions League, since LA had won both the 2011 MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield, and RSL had the next best record.
In 2012, Real finished second in the Western conference during the regular season. In the playoffs, RSL lost to Seattle in the conference semi-finals, and were eliminated from the playoffs. In the 2012–13 CONCACAF Champions League, RSL were placed in Group 2 with Herediano of Costa Rica and Tauro of Panama, but were eliminated at the group stage.
In 2013, Checketts sold his stake in Real Salt Lake to minority owner Dell Loy Hansen. Before the season, the club also traded key players Jámison Olave, Fabián Espíndola and Will Johnson. RSL finished the season in second place in the Western Conference with a 16–10–8 (W-L-T) record, and reached both the Open Cup and MLS Cup finals, losing both to D.C. United and Sporting Kansas City, respectively.
After the season, head coach Jason Kreis left Real Salt Lake to become the first head coach of expansion club New York City FC, with long-time assistant coach Jeff Cassar replacing him at the helm. Despite the departure, the club finished the 2014 season in third in the Western Conference, with a record of 15–8–11 totaling 56 points, and qualified for the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League. In the MLS Cup Playoffs, RSL was eliminated in the conference semi-finals by eventual champions LA Galaxy 5–0 on aggregate.
Despite a five-game unbeaten start to the 2015 season, the team eventually began to struggle in the standings, coupled with a loss to Sporting Kansas City in the semi-finals of the 2015 Open Cup. RSL also lost key player Nat Borchers, who they traded to the Portland Timbers before the season and all-time goalscorer Álvaro Saborío, traded away to D.C. United mid-season. Although late-season signings Luis Silva and Juan Manuel Martinez provided strong performances, the team did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
The 2016 season started with the Quarterfinals on the 2015–16 CONCACAF Champions League where they were eliminated by eventual runner up Tigres UANL of Liga MX by an aggregate score of 3–1. The 2016 season saw Real Salt Lake return to the playoffs but they were once again eliminated by the LA Galaxy, this time by a 3–1 score line on the road in the Western Conference play in game. In the off season, longtime legends Javier Morales and Jamison Olave did not have their options exercised by the club.
On March 20, 2017, the club announced that head coach Jeff Cassar had been dismissed from his duties only three games into the season. Daryl Shore was named interim head coach for the two games against the New York Red Bulls and Minnesota United. On March 29 it was announced that Mike Petke would take over the head coaching position following the game against Minnesota United on April 1. Despite a dazzling late season run, the team finished one point shy of making the playoffs.
The 2018 season was heralded with the opening of the new $78 million Training Center and Zion's Bank Real Academy in Herriman, Utah. The facility was praised for offering world-class training amenities year round for Real Salt Lake and the organization's other teams the NWSL's Utah Royals FC and the men's second division side Real Monarchs. It also houses the team's youth academy, which was moved from Casa Grande, Arizona, offering a single location and clear path for acquiring and developing young talent.
2019 saw the final seasons of both long-time goalkeeper Nick Rimando and defender Tony Beltran, both of whom retired following the end of the campaign. The club also saw the dismissal of head coach Mike Petke on August 11, following an incident between the coach and match officials during the 2019 Leagues Cup. Initially named interim manager for the remainder of the season, assistant coach Freddy Juarez was eventually named as head coach following the season.
The 2020 season, significantly shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, nonetheless saw major change affect the club. On August 30, MLS announced that Hansen would sell his stakes in Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC, and Real Monarchs following controversy over his past use of racist language. Additionally, long-time club captain – and final remaining member of the 2009 MLS Cup winning side – Kyle Beckerman retired following the season's end, having played more regular season games than any outfield player in MLS history.
Unable to find a new owner, MLS took over the sales process on January 8, 2021, and RSL began the 2021 season with no defined ownership. Despite a relatively good start to the season, head coach Freddy Juarez unexpectedly left his role on August 27 to become an assistant coach with Seattle Sounders FC, leaving his own assistant coach Pablo Mastroeni to see out the season as interim. Under Mastroeni, the team made a late-season push to the playoffs, qualifying on the final day of the season through a stoppage-time goal by Damir Kreilach to give RSL a win over Sporting Kansas City. Despite barely making the playoffs, the team progressed to the conference finals for the first time since 2013, upsetting both Seattle and Kansas City (interestingly, through another stoppage-time goal) before being defeated by the Portland Timbers. This success led to Mastroeni being named permanent head coach following the season.
On January 5, 2022, Real Salt Lake was formally sold to a group led by David Blitzer, best known as a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and Crystal Palace, and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith.