SANDY, Utah (Sunday, October 22, 2023) – As the Western Conference’s fifth overall seed, Real Salt Lake (14-12-8, 50 pts.) kicks off the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs next Sunday, October 29 at Shell Energy Stadium in Houston against the fourth-seeded Dynamo, with a 4:00p MT kickoff. The second leg of the Round One “Best of Three” series will kick off at America First Field in Sandy on Monday, November 6 at 7:00p MT. Tickets for RSL’s first home playoff game since 2019 are now available.
Should the series between two of this year’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinalists advance to a third game, it would be played on Saturday, November 11 at 2:00p MT in Houston. All games in this series will be available via Apple TV+ and the MLS Season Pass option, as well as KSL Radio, as they have been through the 2023 RSL season.
Real Salt Lake finished the 2023 MLS Regular Season – its 19thcampaign in MLS – with a 1-0 win at Rocky Mountain Cup rival Colorado, as 20-year-old U.S. Olympic starlet Diego Lunaslammed home the game’s lone goal in the 76th minute, the second consecutive week Luna scored in the final 15 minutes to secure road points for RSL. Veteran GK Zac MacMath made six saves for his ninth clean sheet of the year, as RSL established a new Club standard by defeating the same opponent four times in a single season for the first time ever, while amassing a 50-point reg. season for the first time since 2019 and for just the second time since 2015.
This year’s Audi MLS Cup Playoffs kick off with the Wild Card Round on Wednesday, with a new “Best-of-Three” Round One series kicking off on Sat., Oct. 28 and running through the weekend of Nov. 12. Following the November FIFA break, the Conference Semifinals (Nov. 26 weekend), Conference Finals (Dec. 2 weekend) and MLS Cup 2023 (Sat., Dec. 9) will determine this season’s MLS Cup Champion and any remaining 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup berths. Please visit www.MLSsoccer.com for more information.
For a third consecutive season under the guidance of Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni, RSL advances to the postseason yet again. As a Club, RSL is playoff-bound for the fifth time in six seasons – missing only the Covid-affected 2020 campaign – and for the sixth time in the last nine seasons (2015 / 2017). Mastroeni and staff have used 31 players across 43 games in all competitions during 2023, as RSL advanced to the final four of the annual Open Cup tourney and to the Round of 16 in the inaugural Leagues Cup.
Overall, RSL has qualified for the postseason in 13 of its 16 seasons played since first advancing to the postseason in 2008, RSL’s fourth season in existence. RSL won MLS Cup in 2009, defeating the star-studded LA Galaxy via penalty-kick shootout. Four years later, RSL fell via the same tiebreaker in MLS Cup 2013 at Kansas City. Overall, RSL has advanced in 11 of its 22 previous postseason series, with the first-ever playoff meeting with Houston marking RSL’s 12th different opponent in 16 campaigns.
Back on August 23 in Houston, the Dynamo snapped its 11-game winless streak against Real Salt Lake with a 3-1 win over 120 minutes in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal, as Anderson Julio’s 56th-minute equalizer was overcome by a pair of extra time goals after the 106th minute, the final stanza marred by DF Brayan Vera’s red card. All-time, RSL owns a 3W-11L-5T mark away at Houston, while boasting a 10W-3L-6T mark against the Dynamo on Utah soil.
Again, Real Salt Lake is one of three Western Conference teams and just five overall to have qualified for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in at least five of the last six seasons, overcoming both internal and external volatility in the last six years through three different ownership situations and three different head coaches, as well as soon-to-be four different MLS Cup Playoff formats during this period.
Two perennial postseason obstacles for RSL – LAFC and Seattle – join the Claret-and-Cobalt with the 5-out-of-6 qualification distinction; however, LAFC twice, compared to RSL’s three advancements in the previous four years.
In the Eastern Conference, two teams – Philadelphia and Red Bull New York – have qualified for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in six consecutive years from 2018-23. However, only Philadelphia have won in the playoffs and advanced three times in the previous five campaigns.
The perennial nature of RSL’s 13 postseason appearances in 16 years is remarkable when considering the League’s growth, volatility and various changes dating back to 2008. Since RSL’s first postseason appearance in 2008, the Utah side has advanced to 10 Conference Semifinal rounds and 5 Conference Finals – only SEA has reached more (12 Semis, 6 Finals). LA Galaxy also with 5 Conference Final appearances to match RSL.