Oct. 9, 2008 marked the start of a new era for Utah soccer. Rio Tinto Stadium is the new home for Real Salt Lake. It is the first soccer specific stadium built in Utah.
RSL took on the New York Red Bulls in front of a sold-out stadium of 20,008 people. The final score was 1-1, RSL one point. To clinch a playoff spot, RSL needs 2 points in their final two matches.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere but the quality of soccer was down,” RSL coach Jason Kreis stated following the match, “We have to bear down and focus on playing good soccer.”
New York struck first with an unassisted goal by Dave Van Den Bergh in the 31st minute of the match.
However, the New York goal and the cold Utah air did not cool down the fans at Rio Tinto for one second. The fans were constantly chanting and drums were unremittingly being beaten.
The RSL fans were chomping at the bit waiting for a chance to erupt. They got that chance in the 41st minute when Jamison Olave scored and was assisted by Javier Morales.
This would ultimately end up being the final score. Even though RSL did not get the win, the occasion was huge for the team.
RSL is excited for its new home field advantage. The team hopes Rio Tinto will attract star players, both from the states and internationally, to be comfortable in their new home.
Rio Tinto Stadium will also be hosting the 2009 MLS All-Star game, which will give them plenty of exposure.
“The biggest home-field advantage for us will be in the hands of the fans,” coach Kreis said.
The crowd support is the least of their problems. The crowd made themselves right at home in the sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium.