Real Salt Lake received a heroes' welcome from its fans inside Terminal 1 of the Salt Lake International Airport this afternoon.
A few hundred RSL fans, many of whom took time off work and pulled kids out of school, came to the Salt Lake Airport to greet RSL's players, coaches and staff when they returned here after winning the MLS Cup in a shootout Sunday evening in Seattle, and they erupted when their heroes emerged inside the airport just after 2 p.m.
Those fans chanted and sang as loud as they could.
They put their hands together and cheered and cheered.
And in general, they did what they could to make sure RSL knew that its accomplishment hadn't gone unnoticed.
"Oh, it's amazing," RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said of the reception his club received. "These fans have been amazing from Day 1. When I was playing against them (with Colorado), they were awesome. I didn't want to admit it back then, but they really are amazing fans.
"They deserve this. They deserve this reward more than any other fans. They had to be loyal when the team wasn't doing good, and now they can be champions."
Fans who missed the airport celebration can cheer the champions at an MLS Cup victory rally scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium. Gates to the event will open at 5:30 p.m. and admission is free.
RSL coach Jason Kreis pointed out that so much work went into RSL's championship win over favored L.A., and he was obviously thrilled to see it pay off.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," said Kreis. "It's a little bit of a reward for all the hard work. A lot of blood and guts went into this. It's so much hard work and such a long path. (Now) it just feels great."
RSL's fans, for their part, were appreciative. Inside the airport terminal, they chanted things like, "We won the cup," "Ole, ole, ole, Real Salt Lake" and "Nick Rimando, Nick Rimando, Nick Rimando" in honor of RSL's 'keeper, who saved two penalties in last night's shootout victory.
Friends Morgan Bramble, Christian Westergard and Helen Brown all took time off work — or in one case, were going to show up late to work — to greet RSL this afternoon.
"Last night was just amazing," said Bramble, 25. "I was watching with a big group of friends, and we were all just screaming at the TV and jumping on the couches. It was huge. I had to go to sleep soon after the game because I was just so drained from the shootout and the overtimes.
"It was just huge, and it's just so cool that everybody's out here to support, especially after all the mess, the political (situation) behind Real getting the stadium and everything. It's nice to see there really is support here in Salt Lake."
For his part, Real owner Dave Checketts, whose voice was very hoarse as he briefly addressed the media, said Sunday' championship-game victory shows that RSL is here to stay.
"Now with the new stadium and a championship, there's nothing that's gonna stop us," said Checketts.
Contributing: James Edward
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