SALT LAKE CITY — Wow. Two games in and Real Salt Lake has bounced into a new year with a drum’n bang. More importantly, they’ve given fans a reason to believe again.
If your memory’s good, dip back 365 days.
The pandemic was no fault of their own, but it started a tidal wave of misfortune that ultimately turned into a train wreck of a campaign. One full of front office scandals, arguments over the new sociopolitical climate, the loss of a legend, empty stadiums — to go along with stale play on the pitch that wasn’t near good enough to earn a playoff bid.
In fact, go back even further to the previous summer, and head coach Mike Petke had his own dramatic demise, where his mid-season firing saw him leave quicker than it took to actually use the racial slur.
Petke was as entertaining (no word on if that printer ever did get fixed, by the way) as he was intimidating, and some fans wondered if the much more subdued Freddy Juarez would materialize as a head coach.
Year one speaks for itself, but I’m really glad to see Freddy get a fresh start in 2021. I mean, permanent ownership isn’t even in place yet to provide stability for the franchise; but he stuck to the plan over the off-season, solidifying a nice group around his center piece, Demir Kreilach, then adding a couple nice pieces along the way.
RSLs season-opening road win in Saint Paul was nearly historic. They’d only beaten Minnesota United FC once in 9 tries since entering the league, and to go get one on the road was exactly what the doctor ordered. And then to follow up last week at home with a 3-1 route over Sporting KC was the follow-up fans had been waiting forever to see.
To put the 2-0-0 start in perspective, not once all of last season did the Claret and Cobalt ever string back-to-back wins together, and yet here they are — unbeaten for the time being.
Can they keep it going? A tough test Friday against San Jose will tell us more, but for now let’s enjoy it, 10,000 at a time allowed inside Rio Tinto Stadium, to go along with a product on the field that has clearly found chemistry in April and May.
As the song goes…
“If you believe, then just stand up on your feet and shout it loud, Real! Here at the Rio T the battle hymn’s begun, we’re here for RSL!”