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Real Salt Lake Hits Road this Weekend at Minnesota United FC

April 5, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Real Salt Lake News Release

HERRIMAN, Utah - Real Salt Lake (3-2-1, 10 pts., t-2nd West MLS) resumes its 2024 MLS regular season - the Club's 20th and Major League Soccer 29th - this Saturday evening in St. Paul, Minn., at Allianz Field with a 6:30p MT kickoff against Minnesota United FC (3-1-1, 10 pts, t-2nd West MLS), one of four sides - including RSL - tied for second place in early-season days amidst the Western Conference race at 10 points.

RSL Captain FW Chicho Arango - the reigning MLS Player of the Matchday - recorded all three goals in the Utah side's come-from-behind 3-1 win over St. Louis last weekend, the Club's first hat trick since September 17, 2018 (Damir Kreilach). Chicho's three-goal performance is just the seventh in RSL's 620-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. Former Captain, head coach and current Club director Jason Kreis also had a hat trick, albeit in the 2005 U.S. Open Cup - at Minnesota.

Arango now has two hat tricks in his MLS career - his first was for LAFC in late 2021 against Dallas - and boasts 104 as a professional, including 48 goals in 81 games across all competitions since arriving in MLS for LAFC and RSL. Since arriving on the Wasatch Front last July, Chicho boasts 13 goals and six assists in 24 MLS appearances for the Claret-and-Cobalt, with those numbers increasing to 15 goals and eight assists in 29 RSL games across all competitions (incl. Leagues Cup, Open Cup, Playoffs).

RSL boasts a 1-1-1 record away from home this year, winning on the road in Vancouver on March 23, while settling for a draw at St. Louis on Feb. 24 following a season-opening loss at Miami on Feb. 21. In recent visits to Minnesota, RSL is also 1-1-1, winning at Allianz Field in 2021, losing in 2022 and drawing there in last year's trip. A year ago, Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni's team amassed 12 road wins and five away draws across all competitions, against just eight losses, by far the most successful road campaign in Club history.

This Saturday's kickoff at 6:30p MT on Apple TV+ / MLS Season Pass featuring Mark Rogondino and Heath Pearce (ENG) and Jesus Acosta and Carlos Suarez (SPN) on the call. For local coverage, tune in at 5:30p MT for KSL Radio pre-game w/ David James & Jay Nolly via / 1280 AM / 97.5 FM and / 1160 AM).

Real Salt Lake @ Minnesota United FC - MLS Matchday 8

Allianz Field - St. Paul, Minn.

Saturday, April 6, 2024 - 6:30p MT

2023 Records:

Real Salt Lake (14-12-8, 50 pts, 5th West);

Minnesota United FC (10-13-11, 41 pts., 11th West)

Each of the last two weeks saw RSL concede the first goal against the run of play, but find a 70th-minute equalizer to turn the tide in the final 20+ minutes. Back on March 23 at B.C. Place, RSL suffocated the Whitecaps in Vancouver, 2-1, overcoming a first-half goal from former captain Kreilach as 17-year-old RSL FW Fidel Barajas assisted both second-half scores, first on FW Anderson Julio's 70th-minute equalizer, then on DF Alex Katranis' 76th-minute game-winner. Both Katranis and Barajas made their first-ever RSL / MLS starts that week, while Barajas became just the sixth player in MLS' 29-year history to register a multi-assist match at his age or younger, joining such past MLS luminaries as Bobby Convey, Santino Quaranta, Alphonso Davies, Cade Cowell and Freddy Adu.


Tuesday's training session saw veteran RSL centerback Marcelo Silva go down awkwardly stepping on the ball and needing assistance leaving the field. Wednesday's update was that the Uruguayan warrior sheared the ligament that connects his hamstring to the femur off the bone, necessitating a lengthy four-to-six month rehabilitiation process for Silva. Silva's non-surgical option for treatment began with PRP injections on Thursday of this week.

Meanwhile, RSL playmaker Fidel Barajas has returned to training a full strength this week following last week's knee-to-knee collision that rendered him unavailable for Saturday's 3-1 win over St. Louis. The week prior in Vancouver, Barajas was named to's Team of the Matchday's starting XI for Matchday 6, the 17-year-old's first time being named to the TOTM starting XI. Barajas helped inspire RSL's stunning second-half comeback in Vancouver on Saturday by providing his first two MLS assists in the Claret-and-Cobalt's 2-1 win. In the 70' minute, after Barajas had hit the woodwork twice in the second half, the 2023 USL Championship Young Player of the Year slid a perfectly-placed pass into FW Anderson Julio, who tied the game up 1-1. Six minutes later, Barajas found DF Alexandros Katranis, also making his first MLS start, who opened his RSL account in incredible fashion and completing the comeback.

Just 48-72 hours prior to last Saturday's St. Louis visit to Utah, three young RSL international players - attacker Diego Luna (U.S. Olympic Team), winger Andrés Gómez (Colombian National Team) and GK Gavin Beavers (U.S. U-20 camp) returned to their Club mixes after missing the Vancouver trip the prior week. Both Luna and Gómez came off the bench in the second half against St. Louis, changing the tide en route to a 3-1 victory for RSL, with all three RSL goals coming after their entries.

Luna now leads MLS in assists with five in as many games this young season, providing the primary helper on Chicho's third goal, the dagger which launched Arango into second place in MLS with five goals this year, trailing only NYRB's Lewis Morgan (six) ... Arango is also second in MLS in assists with four, the RSL Captain dominating the chance creation game through the first seven matchdays.


RSL starlet Diego Luna - who would probably have as many as 3 assists this year once MLS re-institutes secondary assists - joined Ruiz in signing a long-term contract extension with the Club in early March, keeping the affectionately known "Moon Boy" with the Utah side through the 2026 season, with Club options for 2027/28.

Luna - who received his first-ever USMNT cap in January's friendly with Slovenia in San Antonio and is on the preliminary USMNT rosters for both the Nations League and Olympic camps later this month - is now considered a U22 roster designation for RSL, joining Braian Ojeda and Nelson Palacio, as winger Andrés Gómez is moved into the "Young DP" slot, alongside Chicho Arango and newcomer Matt Crooks (TAM-able in MLS' secondary window this summer).

RSL playmaker Diego Luna emerged last season as a late-season talisman for the Claret-and-Cobalt, scoring critical goals in each of the final five matches - two MLS reg. season contests, providing the equalizers in both leg one and leg three of the Playoffs at Houston, and scoring the game-clinching PK in the leg two elimination match at home ... Luna recently earned his first U.S. Men's National Team appearance in the January friendly in San Antonio against

Slovenia, starting and playing 77 minutes in the very same free role drifting off left wing that he has made his own at RSL.

2024 should be a big year for Luna, whose role within the team is certain to expand after he has now started 25 of 30 games following his return from USYNT qualifying last summer ... This year, Luna will have to juggle his Club obligations with potential U.S. Men's National Team duty in June's Copa America and his almost certain Olympic Team duty in July ... The Paris Olympics schedule dovetails nicely with the Leagues Cup slate, minimizing Luna's potential absences from MLS reg. season contests.


RSL's 2023 RSL side amassed the Club's seventh 50-point season all-time, and just the second since the 2014 campaign. Finishing 11th overall out of 29 teams, RSL crashed out of the postseason by the thinnest of margins for a second consecutive year (Austin 2022, Houston 2023), dropping a road shootout tiebreaker in Texas. Other 2023 RSL milestones:

Accumulated an all-time Club-best road record with 12 results in 17 away MLS matches, posting an 8W-5L-4T mark with 28 of its 50 reg. season points amassed on the road; RSL's previous road bests were recorded in 2012 and 2013, with identical 6W-7L-4T marks;

RSL's home mark of 6W-7L-4T was its worst since 2007, when a 4W-7L-4T record on the RiceEccles turf marked the 19-year nadir;

During a nearly four-month span from mid-April to early August, RSL dropped just three of 24 games across all competitions, including MLS reg. season action, its Open Cup run to the Semifinals and its initial Leagues Cup foray;

Thirty-two (32) different players saw action for RSL in 2023, including 15-year-old FW Axel Kei and 16-year-old Zavier Gozo making their Homegrown debuts, along with Academy products GK Gavin Beavers and DF Delentz Pierre also making their first-ever first-team appearances; a trio of rookies - D/M Emeka Eneli, FW Bertin Jacquesson and FW Ilijah Paul - made their professional debuts, while FW Andrés Gómez, MF Nelson Palacio, DF Kevon Lambert and DF Brayan Vera notched their first-ever MLS appearances last season;

Since April 16, 2005, RSL has enjoyed a prominent home-field advantage on Utah soil - posting a dominant 197-84-95 (Win-Loss-Draw) record across all competitions at home (1.82 points per game for a 0.649 win pct.) - since arriving on the Wasatch Front nearly 20 years ago;

Since opening its permanent home in Sandy just over 15 years ago, in October, 2008, RSL's 163-59-75 (W-L-T) MLS reg. season mark at America First Field - home of the "RioT" Supporters Group umbrella - equates to a 1.91 points per game average and a 0.679 win pct, one of the truly amazing value proposition in North American sporting landscape today.

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