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Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL, File

The top 10 moments from Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC and Real Monarchs of the decade

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Posted - Jan 1st, 2020 @ 7:19pm



SANDY — Real Salt Lake was a franchise filled with change from 2010-19, from the top (ownership) to the locker room (players) to the expansion of two more clubs falling under its umbrella.

Here’s a look back at the biggest stories of the decade on the pitch.

Jason Kreis leaves Real Salt Lake

The biggest change to the club came back in 2013, when MLS Cup title-winning coach Jason Kreis was hired by Manchester Football Group to become the first coach in New York City FC history. His tenure last just one year, and Kreis has yet to return to Utah; he’s currently the academy director of Inter Miami CF, an MLS expansion club set to begin play in 2020, while coaching the United States’ U-23 side ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

New owner, who dis?

Real Salt Lake changed hands in 2013, when founder and original owner Dave Checketts sold his share in the team to then-minority owner Dell Loy Hansen. Hansen, a real estate developer and construction magnate, has led the organization to aggressive expansion in land and talent, two new clubs and hired multiple head coaches in his tenure as majority owner of Utah’s only pro soccer club.

A Royal addition

Perhaps Hansen's largest mark with RSL came in the form of Hansen's aggressive expansion — namely, adding Utah Royals FC to the club’s family and assuming the spot of FC Kansas City in the National Women’s Soccer League. In a move that took barely more than 15 days to launch, Hansen hired two-time league coach of the year Laura Harvey as the club’s first head coach, and brought in national team standouts like Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press to contend in the top women’s league in the world.

Utah Royals FC head coach Laura Harvey speaks to the team after their loss to the Seattle Reign FC during their match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Friday, June 28, 2019. (Photo: Silas Walker, KSL)

The G.O.A.T retires

Nick Rimando, who is arguably the greatest goalkeeper in Major League Soccer history and inarguably the best to ever wear a Real Salt Lake kit, hung up his gloves for the last time following the 2019 season. The 41-year-old keeper finishes his career with 1,705 saves, 33 penalty-kick saves, 154 shutouts and an overall record of 223-174-117 — all MLS records for goalkeeping. He’s still never won league goalkeeper of the year, though.

Garth Lagerwey's off to Seattle

Kreis wasn’t the only departure of the decade; the other architect of the 2009 MLS Cup squad left when general manager Garth Lagerwey exited the club at the conclusion of his contract in 2014. The former MLS goalkeeper helped Kreis assemble the talent to win the Cup, as well as pace the club’s CONCACAF Champions League run in 2011 before leaving for a similar role in Seattle. The Sounders have advanced to the playoffs every season since Lagerwey arrived, including MLS Cup titles in 2016 and 2019 and a runner-up finish in 2017.

Bill Manning takes off

Within two years, the final domino fell from RSL’s MLS Cup-winning trio when former RSL president Bill Manning left the club for the same role with Toronto FC. Less front-facing but equally important behind the scenes, Manning was a master salesman of business and more in his time with Salt Lake.

The beginning and end of the Mike Petke era

After Kreis' successor Jeff Cassar was fired, ownership moved quickly to hire Mike Petke as the franchise’s fourth head coach in 2017. After signing a three-year contract extension following the 2017 season, Petke was fired midway through the 2019 season after an altercation involving the use of a homophobic slur and an official during a Leagues Cup match with Mexico’s Tigres.

Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke celebrates the fourth goal of the night during the second half of a game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, July 13, 2019. (Photo: Colter Peterson, KSL)

RSL Academy comes home

Considered among the top developmental academies in North American soccer, RSL moved operations of its storied academy from Casa Grandes, Arizona, to Herriman in 2018 with a privately funded $78 million complex that also houses the first team, Real Monarchs, and portions of RSL’s sister franchise Utah Royals FC.

Real-ly ready to launch

The third professional team under the RSL umbrella was founded in 2014, when Real Monarchs SLC was added as the official minor-league side of Real Salt Lake. The club has played its home games at Zions Bank Stadium at the RSL Academy in Herriman since its opening in 2018.

Farewell, Maestro

Javier Morales called it a career, but not in playing out his final days in an RSL shirt. The 39-year-old Argentine retired following the 2018 season, which he played out at FC Dallas with one goal and two assists in just 15 matches. Morales, who spent 10 years in Salt Lake, finished with 50 goals and 83 assists as the "maestro of the midfield" that paced RSL’s 2009 MLS Cup championship.

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