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Real Salt Lake Continues Three-Game Week Wednesday at Kansas City

June 18, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Real Salt Lake News Release


HERRIMAN, Utah - Real Salt Lake (9-2-7 / 34 points / 1st West) continues its 2024 MLS campaign on the road this Wednesday at Sporting Kansas City (3-10-5 / 14 points / 13th West), looking to extend its first-place lead atop the MLS Western Conference and stretch its overall unbeaten run to a new single-season Club-record of 15 games, as Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni's team seeks to improve upon its 3-1-6 / 15-point road record - one which also includes an active nine-game road unbeaten run - thus far in 2024. Kickoff Wednesday in Kansas is at 6:30p MT, available on Apple TV+ / MLS Season Pass, with Tony Husband and Ross Smith (ENG) and Pablo Ramirez and Jesus Bracamontes (SPN) on the call.

First-place RSL returns home this Saturday against LA Galaxy, one of three teams within five points of RSL. The Kansas City trip is the eighth road match for RSL of 12 games played since mid-April, wrapping up a circuitous gauntlet that will see RSL finally staying home for a month, with Saturday's America First Field match against the Galaxy followed by home games on July 3 (Houston) and July 6 (Atlanta). RSL next travels away on July 13 to Portland, a week that also sees trips to LAFC (July 17) and Colorado (July 20) prior to the 2024 MLS All-Star Game in Columbus (July 24) and the 2024 Leagues Cup (August 1 v Atlas, August 5 at Houston).

Despite Saturday's scoreless draw in Montreal, RSL Captain Chicho Arango still leads the MLS Golden Boot race with 16 goals in 18 games, adding nine assists to keep pace with Inter Miami's Lionel Messi, as each boasts a League-leading 25 goal contributions this season. Arango arrives in Kansas City midweek needing just one goal to match RSL's single-season scoring record (Alvaro Saborio, 2012), while also needing just one assist to become the third RSL player ever to accumulate 10+ goals and 10+ assists in a single season, joining Albert Rusnák (11g/11a in 2021) and Jeff Cunningham (16g / 11a in 2006).

RSL - led by Arango and his 16 goals / 9 assists in 18 MLS games thus far, three ahead of D.C. United's Christian Benteke in MLS Golden Boot pursuit - returns to MLS action with an active 14-game unbeaten run (eight wins, six draws) dating back to March 9 at home. During the current MLS run, RSL has outscored opponents 31-14, scoring first in seven of the 14 matches and hammering home five game-winning goals in the final 15 minutes of matches, as well as two extremely late stoppage-time equalizers.

In the Club's last home match back on June 1, RSL thrashed Austin FC, 5-1, as both Arango and FW Anderson Julio each scored twice in the first half for a 4-0 halftime lead, just the third time in RSL history it scored four goals in a half. Arango - who opened the day with a stunning 63-yard goal from beyond midfield - completed his hat trick midway through the second half, the Colombian Captain's second three-goal performance of the season, making him just the second player in RSL history with multiple hat tricks (two in 36 MLS reg. season games played; Saborio owns three in 127 games).

Real Salt Lake @ Sporting Kansas City - MLS Matchday 21

Children's Mercy Park - Kansas City, KS

Wednesday, June 19, 2024 - 6:30p MT

2023 Records: Real Salt Lake (14-12-8, 50 pts, 5th West MLS); Sporting Kansas City (12-14-8, 44 pts, 8th West MLS)

WE'RE GOING STREAKING

The active 14-game MLS unbeaten run establishes itself as RSL's longest-ever single-season MLS streak (matching the 14-game streak set in 2010 and breaking the previous runner-up of 12 games to open 2014) and the Club's third-longest overall in RSL's 20-season history, exceeding last year's 11-game streak across three competitions. RSL also boasts a 16-game run from 2013 into 2014, and a Club-record 18-game unbeaten streak from July 2010 to April 2011 (reg. season only). For the first time ever, RSL now owns back-to-back seasons with unbeaten runs of nine games or longer. With a result at Kansas City Wednesday, RSL would establish a new standalone single-season unbeaten streak record.

DEFENSIVE TENACITY RETURNS FOR RSL

On the heels of a dramatic three weeks that saw RSL concede six goals in back-to-back games and eight goals in four, Saturday's shutout in Montreal marked the Club's sixth of the year in 18 MLS reg. season games, with veteran GK Zac MacMath notching four of those six ... RSL has allowed just two goals in its last 270 minutes played, at Seattle (1-1 draw) and v Austin (5-1 win) prior to the scoreless draw in Quebec. The 0-0 result was RSL's second of the season - also posting a disappointing 0-0 at home against a rotated Columbus side on April 13 - and marking just the third shutout suffered by RSL this season (Feb. 21 at Miami in a 2-0 loss).

HOMEGROWN HIDALGO STEPS UP AT CENTERBACK

22-year-old DF Bode Hidalgo stepped up Saturday to play centerback in place of the injured Justen Glad (ankle), pairing with Brayan Vera and Andrew Brody in front of MacMath and shielded by Braian Ojeda and Emeka Eneli in a gritty performance that saw the young Utah native utilize his speed to fend off the Montreal counterattacks. The converted winger who usually lines up at right back previously played in the center on April 20, in a 4-0 road win at Chicago.

CARDIAC COMEBACK KIDS CREATE CHAOTIC KINESIS

Last time out at home, RSL improved to 6-1-1 on Utah soil, dominating Austin with a four-goal first half en route to a 5-1 win. However, in the three prior matches, RSL rebounded from 0-2, 0-3 and 0-1 deficits to capture five points.

The dramatic displays began with an amazing comeback on May 18 in a 5-3 win, the second of three Rocky Mountain Cup tilts this year against Colorado. For just the fourth time in the Club's now 632-game history, RSL rebounded from an 0-2 deficit to earn the full three points, riding 2-goal / 1-assist performances from both Captain Chicho Arango and winger Andrés Gómez to defeat the Rapids 5-3 before a standing-room only crowd of 20,728. Another capacity crowd is expected Saturday, June 22, against the Galaxy, with tickets available at www.RSL.com/tickets.

In RSL's last road match prior to Montreal, on May 29 at Seattle, the latest equalizer in the Club's 20-year annals dismayed the Sounders, as Colombian winger Andrés Gómez settled a bouncing ball in the box and slammed home his eighth goal of the year at 90+9' to see RSL rescue points late for a third consecutive match. Snaring a point from the jaws of defeat at Seattle marked the second time in five days RSL accomplished the feat, as the 0-3 comeback at Dallas on May 25 saw RSL score three times in the final 30 minutes - goals from Diego Luna, Anderson Julio and Nelson Palacio - to earn a point from three goals down for the first time EVER.

IRON MEN NO MORE

Two RSL players - MF Emeka Eneli (1555) and FW Chicho Arango (1523) - have played nearly every minute of the Club's 18-game MLS season so far in 2024, with second-year man Eneli substituted out twice at Dallas and against Austin. DF Andrew Brody (1402) did not start on three occasions this season, but has appeared in every match.

Three players have appeared in 17 league games, missing just one game this season - Anderson Julio, Braian Ojeda and Andrés Gómez - while young attackers Diego Luna and Fidel Barajas have each appeared in 16 of the 18 MLS contests thus far, with a heavily-congested week continuing Wednesday at Kansas City.

CAPTAIN CHICHO RETAINS GOLDEN BOOT LEAD

RSL Captain Chicho Arango awoke from a rare slumber this season with his second hat trick of the year on June 1 against Austin, rebounding from the late May Dallas / Seattle back-to-backs that marked the first time in 2024 that the Colombian sniper had not scored or assisted in consecutive matches.

When he does score or assist - as he has in 12 of 18 MLS matches this year - RSL owns eight wins and three draws (May 11 brace at LA Galaxy wasted, with the Claret-and-Cobalt failing to score at Miami Feb. 24 and April 13 v. Columbus) against just one loss, with Chicho's assist on an Emeka Eneli goal back on March 9 coming in the home defeat to Colorado.

Chicho also provided a three-goal explosion in a 21-minute span in the Utah side's come-from-behind 3-1 home win over St. Louis on March 30, the Club's first hat trick since September 1, 2018 (Damir Kreilach). Chicho's three-goal performances are just the seventh and eighth of RSL's now 631-game MLS history, the Colombian joining Alvaro Saborio (three hats - two in 2012, one in 2013), along with Robbie Findley (2009), Javier Morales (2014) and Kreilach (2018). Former Captain, head coach and current Club director Jason Kreis also had a hat trick, albeit in the 2005 U.S. Open Cup.

Arango now has three hat tricks in his MLS career - his first was for LAFC in late 2021 against Dallas - and now boasts 115 goals as a professional, including 59 goals in 93 games across all competitions since arriving in MLS for LAFC and RSL. Since appearing on the Wasatch Front last July, Chicho boasts 24 goals and 11 assists in 36 MLS reg. season appearances for the Claret-and-Cobalt, with those numbers increasing to 26 goals and 13 assists in 41 RSL games across all competitions (incl. Leagues Cup, Open Cup, Playoffs).

CHICHO CHASING MLS HISTORY

With his 63-yard wondergoal against Austin on June 1, RSL striker Chicho Arango became just the eighth player in MLS history to reach 50 career MLS regular-season goals in 79 games or fewer:

All-time MLS Players w/ 50 career MLS regular-season goals in 79 or fewer games:

Player, Goal #, Game #, Date

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 50, 54. 9/25/2019

Josef Martinez, 50, 54, 10/28/2018

Carlos Vela, 50, 61, 3/8/2020

Raul Diaz Arce, 51, 67, 7/4/1998

Carlos Ruiz, 50, 69, 8/21/2004

Roy Lassiter, 52, 75, 7/18/1998

Taylor Twellman, 50, 77, 4/27/2005

Chicho Arango, 52, 79, 6/1/2024

Chicho's goals against Austin allowed him to tie Seattle's Raul Ruidiaz in becoming the second-fastest active player to reach the milestone behind only Josef Martinez (54 games), becoming just the fourth active player to reach the mark in fewer than 100 games:

Active players to reach the career 50-goal milestone in fewer than 100 career games:

Player, Goal #, Game #, Date

Josef Martinez, 50, 54, 10/28/2018

Raul Ruidiaz, 50, 79, 11/01/2021

Hany Mukhtar, 51, 93, 05/20/2023

Chicho Arango, 52, 79, 06/01/2024

Chicho scored 30 of his 49 career MLS reg. season goals during the 2021 and 2022 seasons in 51 games with LAFC (0.59 goals per game, and a rate of 0.72 goals per 90), and has scored 22 in 29 games (0.76 per game, 0.90 per 90) across the last 10 months with RSL, spanning the 2023 and 2024 seasons. Chicho needs 9 more Claret-and-Cobalt goals in the remaining 16 games of the current MLS campaign to surpass his LAFC output on a volume basis, with his per-game numbers significantly better at RSL.

FIVE WEEKS AWAY FROM LEAGUES CUP OPENER: On August 1, RSL kicks off its participation in the 2024 Leagues Cup, the second year of the 47-team, 78-game tournament, with three CONCACAF Champions Cup berths on the line. RSL is grouped with a road tilt away at Houston Dynamo (MLS) on August 5, with the home opener on August 1 against Atlas CF (MEX) match at America First Field in its West 2 group, with single-elimination knockout games to follow leading up to an August 25 title match.

Based on last year's fifth-seeded West finish (14W-12L-8T, 50 points, 48 GF / 50 GA), RSL will be grouped with both Houston and Liga MX side Atlas F.C. in Leagues Cup 2024 this July. RSL last faced Atlas in the 2022 Leagues Cup "Showcase" match in Utah, dropping a 1-2 decision despite former DF Aaron Herrera's wondergoal from 65 yards away over the retreating goalkeeper.

Due to the new for 2024 Leagues Cup seeding formula, RSL will once again travel to Houston for a group stage LC match in addition to its two MLS reg. season games against the Dynamo, with RSL now winless in its last six games against Houston - all last year - across all competitions. Prior to the active six-game streak without a win against the South Texas side, RSL had seen great success against the Dynamo, which defeated RSL for the first time in 11 games dating back to 2017 in last year's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal.


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