Major League Soccer released its entire schedule Monday, which means Real Salt Lake fans can start making plans for the majority of their 2019.
The league released every team’s home opener in December. That announcement revealed that RSL will start on the road for the second consecutive season with a match on March 2 against the Houston Dynamo. The following week, on March 9, RSL will make their 2019 debut at Rio Tinto Stadium against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Real doesn’t have to wait long before facing some of their playoff foes from 2018. They visit LAFC in just the fourth game of the season. RSL knocked off LA in stunning fashion in the knockout round of the playoffs.
Along the same lines, RSL plays Sporting Kansas City, which eliminated Real from the postseason, at home on June 29. The two face off again in Kansas City about a month and a half later.
Two periods of the schedule could prove to be difficult for Real. Before the snow starts melting for good in Salt Lake City, RSL will face four teams that qualified for the playoffs last season all in a row. The stretch starts with D.C United on March 16 and ends April 6 with a road game against Seattle.
Later in the season, RSL plays six 2018 playoff teams in the span of seven games, including five in a row. Those five are Dallas FC, New York City FC, Sporting KC, Seattle and LAFC. Real plays Colorado, which did make the playoffs last season, before facing Portland to end that stretch of games.
RSL might be road weary to start the 2019 season. Only three of its first nine games are at home. One of those games will be the team’s first-ever visit to D.C. United’s home field. RSL will also play new expansion team FC Cincinnati on the road during that stretch.
Real’s longest road swing starts May 29 against Montreal, and they play again just three days later at the New York Red Bulls, which will be head coach Mike Petke’s first time there since taking the job in Salt Lake City two years ago.
RSL plays in Chicago after that, but an international break lasting more than 20 days is in between. The game in Chicago marks the start of a tough stretch in which Real plays four games in 12 days. Between June 29 and July 6, RSL will face Sporting KC and Columbus at home, followed by San Jose on the road.
However, Real will have a bit of home cooking toward the end of the season. Starting in mid-August, RSL has three consecutive home games against Seattle, LAFC and Colorado. The caveat: Seattle and LAFC are only three days apart.
Last season, Real had a stretch where seven of nine games were at Rio Tinto that included two sets of three straight home games. RSL tied for the best home record in the Western Conference at 11-2-4 in 2018.
Not only does RSL start on the road in 2019, it also ends there. Real’s final game of the upcoming season comes against Vancouver. Last season, the team’s last game was against Portland on the road, where it finished just 3-11-3.