Real Salt Lake enjoys its snow day, but LAFC coach says it was a ‘disgrace’ to play in Utah storm

Real Salt Lake routed LAFC 3-0 despite intense snow and multiple weather delays.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Snow falls as Real Salt Lake hosts LAFC, MLS soccer in Sandy on Saturday, March 2, 2024.

Sandy • Real Salt Lake overcame high winds, thundersnow and a dangerous LAFC team to win its home opener Saturday.

Winger Andrés Gómez scored twice and captain Chicho Arango added a third goal to help RSL beat LAFC 3-0 after multiple weather delays and an intense March snowstorm.

“I think the team that quickly adapts to the circumstances around them and control the controllables have a better chance,” Real Salt Lake coach Pablo Mastroeni said. “So just a real credit to the players.”

But the decision to play at all Saturday frustrated LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo.

“It was an absolute joke we had to play today,” he told reporters afterward. “It was one of the worst professional sporting events I’ve ever seen in my life. I feel terrible for the players that we put them through this. The game could have and should have been called. In my opinion, it was an absolute disgrace we had to play today.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Snow falls as Real Salt Lake hosts LAFC, MLS soccer in Sandy on Saturday, March 2, 2024.

The match was set to kick off at noon. But at 10:31 a.m., with winds gusting Real Salt Lake announced it would delay opening the gates because of weather concerns.

The game was pushed back to 2:10 p.m.

With this announcement, fans started questioning the chances of the game being able to start at the new time with weather reports indicating a snowstorm entering the Sandy area at the same time.

LAFC and Real Salt Lake took the pitch shortly after 2 p.m. — but a second delay of game was announced due to a lightning strike only three minutes into game time.

Fans were asked to seek shelter and await another update which came a few minutes later with a new kickoff time of 3:05 p.m. MST. By then the snow had started falling.

“Once you decide to start the game and it’s snowing, there’s very little that you’re going to do to where you say ‘let’s stop the game’ because it is already snowing,” Mastroeni said. “I don’t think they were desirable conditions for either team.”

Snow continued to fall but the game finally resumed.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Zac MacMath stands in a blizzard as RSL hosts LAFC, MLS soccer in Sandy on Saturday, March 2, 2024.

Gómez shined with two goals in the first half, in the 18th and 41st minutes. Arango scored the third and final goal for RSL shortly after, scoring in the added time at the end of the first half.

As the game progressed, the snow fell harder and visibility decreased for fans and players.

“I couldn’t see my feet,” RSL midfielder Matt Crooks added with a smile.

Despite the weather delays and snowy conditions, Salt Lake emerged victorious in what ended up being a home-field advantage as LAFC never had an answer offensively.

Real Salt Lake will take on the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at America First Field.