Leo the Lion, the mascot from Re'al Salt Lake sits with Castle Dale students.
Re'al Salt Lake is now five years old and just three months ago stunned the world and Major League Soccer by winning the league championship and the MLS Cup.
Re'al Salt Lake was an expansion team in 2005 and played their first three seasons in Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium, home of the University of Utah football team. The team has played the last two seasons at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.
The stadium almost never was because of financial issues and because of that, the team almost was sold as several cities came to town to try and pry the team away. But to our relief, the issues were solved, the team stayed and now this state has a major league championship.
This past season, Re'al Salt Lake was the last team to qualify for the play-offs. As the eighth overall seed, the team was sent to play in the eastern conference. In their first play-off game, Re'al upset the eastern conference champion and the defending league champion, the Columbus Crew.
Re'al then faced the Chicago Fire and pulled upset number two by winning on penalty kicks after battling to a 0-0 tie. Re'al was not through, on Nov. 22 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Re'al stunned the world by defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy and their stars on penalty kicks 5-4.
Now, Re'al Salt Lake wants to share their championship with all of Utah. They are traveling to each of the counties outside of Salt Lake county and showing off their trophy and letting the local fans meet the team up close and personal. After bringing the State of Utah its first major league sports title last November, Re'al Salt Lake is partnering with KUTV 2 (CBS), KALL 700 Sports, Strong Automotive, Siegfried and Jensen and the state's KFC Restaurants to tour the prize of its MLS Cup crown - the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy - for Utahns far and wide via a month-long tour of 35 locations throughout the Beehive State.
Re'al Salt Lake's "Championship Cup Tour" spans the month of February, kicking off Feb. 1, with the tour launching from KUTV 2 News This Morning's Gallivan Center studio and continuing onto Utah's remaining counties.
"Since we brought the MLS Cup back from Seattle in November, we have wanted to ensure that our fans from all across the State of Utah feel pride and ownership in what the club has achieved," said Re'al Salt Lake President Bill Manning. "Fostering and nurturing the support of all Utahns is of the utmost importance to us, and we hope this tour can provide a small measure of thanks to our followers from Logan to St. George, to all points in between."
During February's "Championship Cup Tour," members of the Re'al Salt Lake organization will usher North American soccer's top prize in a tour-theme-wrapped Volkswagen Routan across the Beehive State, a journey fans worldwide will be able to follow on www.RealSaltLake.com; the team's Behind the Shield blog, located at www.RSLtotheCore.com; RSL's Facebook fan page at www.Facebook.com/RealSaltLake; daily KUTV 2 News weather updates; clicking the Cup icon on the Sports page at www.Connect2Utah.com; and over the radio airwaves via KALL 700 Sports' hourly sports updates.
Fans at stops along the route will be able to take photos with the MLS Cup trophy and mascot Leo the Lion. KUTV 2 will also host an "Enter 2 Win" opportunity at each tour stop, with the Grand Prize of a 32" flat-screen television awarded on-air live by an RSL player or coach on the Feb. 28 edition of Talkin' Sports at 10:35 p.m.
The "Championship Cup Tour" tour is slated to pass through some of Utah's most iconic locations, with a stop to experience the "Best Snow on Earth" at Brian Head Ski Resort, a photo opportunity at the famed Delicate Arch, a visit to the original Utah Territory Capital, and a ride down the bobsled track at Olympic Park, all on the itinerary.
While on the tour, Re'al Salt Lake's representatives will be visiting with youth soccer clubs and speaking at dozens of school assemblies to give the team's youngest fans the chance to see what can be achieved by setting goals and putting in the hard work necessary to achieve them, themes that have been embodied in RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis' "Fortune Favors the Bold" and "The Team is the Star" mantras since he stepped from the field to the sideline in 2007.
The Re'al visited Castle Dale on Feb. 3 and met in the Stewarts parking lot where the Castle Dale Fire Chief Richard Herring escorted the Re'al to the city hall where Mayor Neal Peacock gave Leo the Lion the team mascot the key to the city. From there they presented an assembly to the Castle Dale Elementary students and displayed the championship trophy. Next on the stop was Emery High for a pep assembly. Leo posed for many photos with the students at both schools. He displayed his soccer skills and did a back flip or two and was the handstand champion of the day.
Joseph Allen is a marketing director for Re'al Salt Lake. He asked the students at Castle Dale Elementary what it takes to win a trophy and a championship like Re'al Salt Lake. "It takes team work and working together. You need to show respect for your team and work together. This trophy belongs to everyone in Utah."
Dave Ratchford told the students at EHS that touring with the championship cup is a tradition in soccer. "If you win the championship, then you go on tour. That's what we're doing. We are visiting every county in the state. Soccer is the fastest growing sport in America."
When the Re'al left the county their next stop was Moab.