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Commentary: Real Salt Lake proving it belongs among the nation's elite

Published: Wednesday, July 1 2015 10:17 a.m. MDT

Real Salt Lake soccer players celebrate after they beat the Portland Timbers to win the Western Conference finals in the MLS Cup soccer playoffs, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Ted S. Warren, AP) Real Salt Lake soccer players celebrate after they beat the Portland Timbers to win the Western Conference finals in the MLS Cup soccer playoffs, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Ted S. Warren, AP)

Real Salt Lake hopes to bring home another professional championship to the state of Utah as it takes on Sporting Kansas City in a battle for the MLS Cup title on Saturday (2 p.m. MST, ESPN).

This is the second time in five years that RSL has made its way into the championship game. The last time RSL found itself in the finals was in 2009, when it beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 5-4 in penalty kicks.

RSL looks to keep the momentum and winning streak going after it breezed past the Western Conference regular season champions, the Portland Timbers, 5-2 on aggregate. Fans, as well as players and coaches, were relieved to finally win a trophy.

Over the last couple of years, the club has missed some big opportunities as it couldn't quite finish what it started. RSL came in second in the 2010 Supporters' Shield race, second in the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League final, second in the 2011 Western Conference finals and second in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup final.

Fireworks go off during player introductions before the start of the second game of the Western Conference finals between the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup soccer playoffs, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Ted S. Warren, AP) Fireworks go off during player introductions before the start of the second game of the Western Conference finals between the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup soccer playoffs, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Ted S. Warren, AP)

“I think for me, the most rewarding thing is not about getting back to the MLS Cup. The most rewarding thing is that this group has won a trophy. Another trophy. Frankly, in my honest opinion, and I’m sure it’s not everybody’s — this team deserves more trophies than they have,” coach Jason Kreis told the Deseret News.

A win this Saturday should help cement RSL among the nation's elite teams. Only nine teams have ever won the MLS Cup title, with four having won more than one title. RSL now has a chance to put itself in territory that few teams have been able to reach over the years.

However, if RSL falters on Saturday, will it still be considered one of the top teams in the league? Yes. RSL has shown over the years that it's one of the strongest. If you don't believe it, take a look at the chart.

Real Salt Lake team members celebrate after winning the Western Conference finals in the MLS Cup soccer playoffs against the Portland Timbers Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) (Don Ryan, AP) Real Salt Lake team members celebrate after winning the Western Conference finals in the MLS Cup soccer playoffs against the Portland Timbers Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) (Don Ryan, AP)

RSL has been one of the most consistent teams in Major League Soccer and the record shows it. While many thought this year was going to be a rebuilding year, management and players have responded nicely as they've given fans plenty to cheer about this season.

While some skeptics believed that soccer could never thrive in Utah, RSL has shown time and time again that it's here to stay and looks to bring many more championships along the way.

Justin Giles is a recent graduate with a bachelor's in communications with an emphasis in journalism and sports communication. Twitter: Justingiles22 Email: justingiles@deseretnews.com

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