'Forget everything you knew': What you need to know about RSL's return home vs. LAFC

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SANDY — Real Salt Lake is back on the Wasatch Front, and fans are invited to a welcome-back party Wednesday night against Los Angeles FC.

At least, a select few of them.

In accordance with local health guidelines with the Salt Lake County Health Department to limit or halt the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, RSL will allow a select group of fans into Wednesday night’s match, which will kick off at 7:30 p.m. MT (KMYU, ESPN+).

LAFC star Carlos Vela won’t be available as he rehabs an MCL injury that will keep him out for at least a few weeks, head coach Bob Bradley told reporters Tuesday. But there will be more changes present than the absence of the 34-year-old striker who set a league record with 34 goals a year ago.

“Forget everything you knew about coming to a game here,” said Craig Martin, general manager and vice president of operations at Rio Tinto Stadium, in a team-produced video. “The logistics of attending a game have changed drastically.”

The changes will look similar to Real Monarchs’ season restart at Rio Tinto Stadium back on July 11 — and for fans, they will start before entering the stadium.

Fans will be escorted to separate parking lots, entrances, concession stands and even restrooms based solely upon where they are sitting in the stadium. All tickets will be digital-only through the AXS app, RSL says.

As soon as fans exit their vehicles, they’ll be required to wear a mask or face-covering. Anyone who is not wearing a mask except “when actively eating” will be asked to wear one, or be removed from the stadium.

Mandatory temperature checks and health questionnaires will be provided at each entry point by stadium personnel.

Each group or family unit will also be designated a time to take their seat, organized by row, to allow for maximum physical distancing between parties. The front half of each section will enter the stadium 60 minutes before kickoff, while the back half will enter 30 minutes prior to kickoff.

Similar designations will follow to allow fans to exit the stadium, section by section and row by row, following the conclusion of the match.

Payments at concession stands, beverage stands and snack carts will be conducted using contactless payments only. Six-foot markers will also be placed in all lines for customers to “queue up” in a physically distanced fashion.

Hand sanitizer stations have been installed throughout the stadium and may be used liberally by all fans, employees and staff in attendance.

Post-match autograph signings and interactions with players and technical staff will be strictly prohibited.

Real Monarchs take the field in front of a mostly-empty Rio Tinto Stadium crowd against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Saturday, July 18, 2020 in Sandy, Utah.
Real Monarchs take the field in front of a mostly-empty Rio Tinto Stadium crowd against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Saturday, July 18, 2020 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo: Sean Walker, KSL.com)

“Our plan is designed to minimize person-to-person touchpoints and distance traveled within the stadium and prevents interaction with individuals from outside of their own households,” the club said in a statement. “We have taken all measures to assure your confidence in a healthy and safe environment.”

The changes go beyond the stands, too. The media will enter through the main entrance near the box office, and only photographers will be allowed on the field. All postmatch interviews will be conducted via Zoom video conference, and reporters will be asked to remain at least six feet apart and wear masks while in the press box.

Media will have their own entrance, separate from the other three dived around the stadium.

In addition to Vela’s absence, Wednesday’s match will feature the return of RSL center back Marcelo Silva from a one-match suspension. Midfielder and team captain Kyle Beckerman will serve the second of his two-match suspension from a red-card violation received during the club’s MLS is Back finale against San Jose.

“Every game right now is a six-point game," RSL midfielder Damir Kreilach said after Saturdays’ 4-1 win over Colorado. "To take three points against Colorado is a big win. At the end of the day, we have a hard schedule in these next five games, so to take three points today is a big thing. We have to think positive and be ready for what we can expect these next couple of weeks.

“Our goal every game is to get three points and it won’t be easy, but we will give everything to get it.”

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