New York City Football Club face Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.
Hi Joe, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been covering RSL?
I have been covering RSL since March 2020, starting with the RSL Soapbox (now Wasatch Soccer Sentinel) and then starting the Spanish-language podcast El Show RSL in February 2021
What has been your highlight in that time?
My favorite thing so far has been being able to meet and talk to some of my favorite RSL players from the early days of the team. Players like Javier Morales and Jamison Olave were heroes of mine as a teen and interviewing them on El Show RSL has been an honor.
What are your thoughts on the team’s start to the season?
It’s been a rough start. While the team’s been trending positively recently, we started off bad. Glimmers of hope would be immediately put out by lazy goals given away and poor finishing costing us points. Within the past month though, RSL has found some better form and are finding ways to pull out results. The coaching staff has been effectively rotating players over a tough stretch of 11 games in five weeks, with five wins, two losses, and three draws in that time.
What are your hopes for the 2023 season?
The US Open Cup has to be the biggest thing on RSL’s mind right now. We’re two wins away from our first final in 10 years, and first trophy in 14 years. And with RSL hosting the final if they beat Houston in the semifinal, that would be a treat for the fans and the team. Other than that, we need to make the playoffs at bare minimum, but I would hope this team can finish high enough to give us some home playoff games. Oh, and a decent performance in Leagues Cup too. Is that too much to ask?
What do you think will be the deciding factor in Saturday's game?
RSL needs to stay alert for 90 minutes. Our midfield and defense has had moments of brilliance over the season, but each game it feels like they find a way to fall asleep for a few minutes and give up goals. As coach Pablo Mastroeni says constantly, “goals change games.” I think that RSL’s defense might be the deciding factor in how the points get split this weekend.
For any fans that might be in Salt Lake for the game are there any spots you’d suggest they check out?
Saturday mornings this time of year are always great for a hike in the mountains! My personal favorite is the Doughnut Falls, but there are plenty of great trails out there. Closer to downtown, you have This Is The Place Monument that has a little bit of state history, a beautiful view of the valley, and is a part of a tradition we have after home wins, where the game’s MVP plants a flag in front of the south end supporters. There are also plenty of neat places to visit downtown, but also in Park City and surrounding areas. The aquarium and zoo are local favorites, as well as local amusement park Lagoon.
If you’re willing to go a little farther out of the way, Sundance is beautiful this time of year. If you are looking to go outside of the Salt Lake valley though, you are probably looking at a 45 minute to an hour drive, so make sure to take that into account. The normally very popular Temple Square is currently under major renovations, so make sure to check online and see what’s open in the area if you’re looking to go. There are also other religious sites open to visitors in and around the Salt Lake area. The Cathedral of the Madeline is right there in downtown, a Krishna temple in Millcreek, and another one in Spanish Fork that hosts a large Holi festival every spring, and there is an open house for a new temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Saratoga Springs.
If you’re looking for food, one of my favorite local places right now is Arempas, a Venezuelan joint with vegan and gluten free options, with locations in downtown SLC and Midvale, closer to America First Field. There’s also the Utah classic Crown Burger for a more fast food option with locations across the valley. Another favorite is Slackwater Pizzeria if you’re open to trying some of the best local pizza. As for bars, there aren’t a ton near the stadium, but A Bar Named Sue is a popular spot closer to the stadium. Other bars include Bar X, Beer Bar (owned by RSL and MLS legend Nick Rimando), Gracie’s, Poplar, Lake Effect, The Break, and plenty of other great options in the downtown area that serve local beers. You can’t really go wrong with downtown bars. Or if you’re looking for non-alcoholic drinks, the Salt Lake area has a plethora of soda shops that serve specialty sodas. Or if you just want to take advantage of a good deal on sodas, Utah is the only place in the US where you can get any size soft drink at McDonalds for $1.
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