MLS Fan Watch: Real Salt Lake

Salt City United supporters are an intimidating bunch in the south end of Rio Tante Stadium. George Frey/Getty Images

Editor's note: Welcome to MLS Fan Watch, in which ESPN Playbook takes a closer look at the supporting group for each of the eight MLS conference semifinalists. The last in the series focuses on fans of Real Salt Lake.

Real Salt Lake finished its 2012 regular season on a hot streak, going 6-1-4 in its last 11 games and outscoring opponents 12-3 in that span.

After a tight nil-nil draw last Friday at Seattle, the team heads home for the second leg Thursday at Rio Tinto Stadium, where it has had no shortage of support since joining the league in 2005.

Rio Tinto is brought to life every home game by seven distinct supporter groups, most packed into the south stands, that show no shortage of breath despite the altitude.

Stadium: Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, Utah)

Opened: 2008

Capacity: 20,213

Supporter groups and stadium locations:

South End

- La Barra Real: The first and largest Latino supporter group for Real. (Section 8 )

- The Loyalists: Formed in 2004 after MLS announced RSL would be an expansion club. Caters to a loud, family-friendly membership. (Section 12)

- Rogue Cavaliers Brigade: Founded in time for the team’s inaugural season in 2005. Fosters a European atmosphere with nonstop chants and songs. (Section 9)

- Salt City United: Wears black for home games and strives to be the loudest bunch at the stadium. (Sections 8 and 9)

- The Royal Pride: Kicked off last season and focuses on community involvement. (Section 8 )

- La Union Real: One of Real’s newer groups, formed in 2010. (Section 11)

North End

- Section 26: A family-friendly group that takes pride in chanting and cheering for the full 90 minutes of play. (Section 26)

Known for: The “Believe” anthem. Written by Branden Steineckert, drummer for the punk rock band Rancid, “Believe” has been embraced by the entire Real Salt Lake fan base, head coach Jason Kreis and the whole team. Even opposing players can’t help humming along.

Sample chant: “You’ve Come A Long Way” (to the tune of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”) -- Rogue Cavaliers Brigade

"You’ve come a long way

Just to lose,

You’ve come a long way,

Just to


You’ve come a long way,

Just to lose,

You’ve come a long way just to lose."

Fan favorite: Kyle Beckerman, midfielder. It’s hard to believe the dreadlocked playmaker was ever with another team.

After arriving in Salt Lake via a trade with Colorado in 2007, Beckerman has appeared in every MLS All-Star Game since.

He is also the unquestioned team leader, donning the captain's armband in 2008 and promptly leading Real to its first-ever postseason berth. The following season, Beckerman and RSL lifted the MLS Cup trophy.

Opponent’s perspective: “Their fans are very knowledgeable about soccer, which means they know how to cheer and when to get behind their team at the right moments.

"Usually, it’s when we’re defending set pieces in front of our goal and we have to communicate with one another to position ourselves properly.

"You’ve got the tamer end of the stadium [Section 26] and the rowdier side [Sections 8 through 12], but both are loud and distracting.

"As a defender, all that noise is just annoying. You can’t get it out of your head.” -- Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City defender