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Numbers Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Western Conference Clubs

LAFC has opened life in MLS with a splash, while some of its Western Conference counterparts are going to great lengths to keep up and maintain their turf. Here are the numbers behind our MLS Ambition Rankings for the teams out west.

In conducting our annual MLS Ambition Rankings, we rely on the clubs to provide us with information and details used to compile our rankings. There are different ways to define ambition, which go well beyond roster spending. What are the prospects for the near- and long-term future? What is a team's stadium experience like? How aggressive are teams challenging for trophies on multiple fronts? Those are just some of the questions we strive to answer in painting as detailed a picture as possible in a league where total transparency has not always been a calling card.

Every club in the league was asked the same questions and given an opportunity to respond in as much or little depth as they were willing to offer, with some questions pertaining only to a certain set of clubs due to their involvement in Concacaf Champions League, while others haven't had the opportunity to participate. And for expansion club LAFC, there are not years of past experience to use as a reference point for growth.

These are the answers provided directly by the clubs, edited only for clarity, with some being more forthcoming than others and one club declining to participate (check out the answers provided by the Eastern Conference clubs here):

COLORADO RAPIDS

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1 - How much money has your club spent across the past three years on Designated Players (transfer fees + salaries)? How much are you spending in 2018?

The club has made significant investments in Designated Players Tim Howard and Shkëlzen Gashi over the past three seasons, and has continued to improve the on-field product by investing significant sums as part of the new MLS discretionary TAM initiative in 2018.

2 - How much has your club spent across the past three years on youth development? How many fully-funded (free) youth teams do you field?

The club continues to place a strong emphasis on our Development Academy and to providing a clear pathway to MLS for our local players.

We currently have six fully-funded youth teams (U12, U13, U14, U15, U17, U19) and a U23 team competing in the PDL. A testament to the academy’s success, the club’s 2018 first-team roster will include four homegrown players in Kortne Ford, Dillon Serna, Ricardo Perez, as well as the most recent (and youngest) in club history, defender Sam Vines. It’s also worth mentioning that the club’s Development Academy has produced 20 NCAA Division I signings over the past three seasons.

3 - Have you upgraded your stadium in the past year, or are you building--or in the process of upgrading--your stadium? What is the cost?

This past offseason, the club engaged in numerous stadium improvements with the intent of elevating the overall fan, staff, and player experience at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Those renovations include significant locker room improvements, as well as the addition of new sideline LED boards, a new hydrotherapy room in the club’s medical facilities, and new magnetometers at each stadium entrance.

4 - Where does your first team train? Have you upgraded, or are you building or improving, your first-team training facility? What is the cost?

With 24 fields surrounding Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the stadium was built to accommodate first team training sessions.

5 - Do you have a USL and/or NWSL team? If so, what are the operating and salary budgets for that team(s)?

The club enjoys a fruitful partnership with USL affiliate Charlotte Independence. Four of the [Rapids’] 2018 first-team roster have spent time in Charlotte, and just this offseason the club signed Independence midfielder and two-time USL MVP candidate Enzo Martinez to a first-team contract. Martinez started both matches in the club’s Concacaf Champions League round-of-16 matchup with Toronto.

6 - How many front office employees does your club have? How many have you added or subtracted over the past year?

This is an area that the club has invested in heavily this past offseason, adding three executive front office positions in assistant GM Fran Taylor—who joins the club from Arsenal-owned data and analytics firm StatDNA—as well as former Seattle Sounders strength and conditioning coach Chad Kolarcik as the club’s new director of performance/sports science, and new director of player personnel Ena Patel, who joins the club from international law firm Baker & Makenzie.

The total number of front office staff now rests at over 70 individuals.

7 - Please provide your starting XIs for your first two U.S. Open Cup or Canadian Championship games of 2017 (or just the first, if you lost your USOC opener).

Game 1 (3-2 vs. Oklahoma City Energy)

GK Zac MacMath; Ds Dillon Serna, Eric Miller, Bobby Burling, Dennis Castillo; MFs Jared Watts, Sam Hamilton, Ricardo Perez, Dillon Powers, Josh Gatt; F Alan Gordon.

Game 2 (1-3 at FC Dallas)

GK Zac MacMath; Ds Mekeil Williams, Axel Sjoberg, Kortne Ford, Dennis Castillo; MFs Bismark Boateng, Sam Hamilton, Ricardo Perez, Dillon Powers, Shkëlzen Gashi; F Caleb Calvert.

8 - This question is for clubs that participated in the Concacaf Champions League at least once in the past five seasons: Did your club do anything special or extra to prepare for CCL competition, such as training or playing friendlies abroad, sending scouts abroad or scheduling different preseason opponents? What was the cost associated with the preparation?

The club was in a unique position heading in to the 2018 Concacaf Champions League as, given the team’s extensive overhaul, the club was incorporating a largely new technical staff—including a new head coach—as well as a new system and 12 changes to the first-team roster. Given the amount of new additions, the club took a longer-term view of the preseason, prioritizing CCL as a part of the pre-season preparation building toward the 2018 MLS opener.

FC DALLAS

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1 - How much money has your club spent across the past three years on Designated Players (transfer fees + salaries)? How much are you spending in 2018?

We listed $15 million over the last five [years] for an average of $3 million per year, last [ambition ranking] survey. We’re a little above average this season at $3.5 million in 2018.

2 - How much has your club spent across the past three years on youth development? How many fully-funded (free) youth teams do you field?

$1.5 million per year for a total of $4.5 million in the past three years. Nine youth teams are fully funded.

3 - Have you upgraded your stadium in the past year, or are you building--or in the process of upgrading--your stadium? What is the cost?

Yes. Toyota Stadium cost $80 million in 2005. The current expansion project that includes space for the National Soccer Hall of Fame has bumped the total cost to more than $58.4 million.

4 - Where does your first team train? Have you upgraded, or are you building or improving, your first-team training facility? What is the cost?

Toyota Soccer Center. As part of the Toyota Stadium expansion that includes the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame, the first team will have new game-day locker rooms. Changes and upgrades to the project, which also includes space for the National Soccer Hall of Fame, have bumped the total costs to more than $58.4 million.

5 - Do you have a USL and/or NWSL team? If so, what are the operating and salary budgets for that team(s)?

We run everything through our affiliate OKC Energy FC, but the club still spends around $200,000.

6 - How many front office employees does your club have? How many have you added or subtracted over the past year?

127, added.

7 - Please provide your starting XIs for your first two U.S. Open Cup or Canadian Championship games of 2017 (or just the first, if you lost your USOC opener).

Game 1 (2-1 vs. Tulsa Roughnecks)

GK Chris Seitz; Ds Ryan Hollingshead, Matt Hedges, Walker Hume, Reggie Cannon; MFs Victor Ulloa, Javier Morales, Coy Craft, Mauro Díaz, Paxton Pomykal; F Cristian Colmán.

Game 2 (3-1 vs. Colorado Rapids)

GK Chris Seitz; Ds Ryan Hollingshead, Maynor Figueroa, Walker Hume, Reggie Cannon; MFs Victor Ulloa, Carlos Cermeño, Roland Lamah, Mauro Díaz, Paxton Pomykal; F Cristian Colmán.

8 - This question is for clubs that participated in the Concacaf Champions League at least once in the past five seasons: Did your club do anything special or extra to prepare for CCL competition, such as training or playing friendlies abroad, sending scouts abroad or scheduling different preseason opponents? What was the cost associated with the preparation?

Yes, we did something different. We tried to speed up our preseason preparation to allow ourselves to attain match full fitness ahead of schedule. In 2017, we went to Argentina and played eight games in 10 days against first-division competition. The cost associated with that is somewhere between $40,000 and $50,000.

HOUSTON DYNAMO

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1 - How much money has your club spent across the past three years on Designated Players (transfer fees + salaries)? How much are you spending in 2018?

While we cannot disclose actual numbers, we have made a significantly increased investment on Designated Players within the last year. Prior to the Erick Torres transfer last month, we were using all three of our Designated Player spots. Last summer, we brought in MF Tomás Martínez, a 21-year-old Argentine, on a transfer from Sporting Braga. This winter we finalized a full transfer of Alberth Elis, the 22-year-old Honduran winger, from Monterrey. Our DP investments are significant and demonstrate our ownership’s willingness to invest in the on-field product.

2 - How much has your club spent across the past three years on youth development? How many fully-funded (free) youth teams do you field?

Again, while we cannot disclose actual numbers, we continue to make an increased annual investment into our youth academy. We have 10 fully-funded teams, including a Houston Dynamo Academy-West team at the U12 level that was just announced by the USSDA [on March 9].

Each year we add various resources and assets to continue to build the program. This past fall, we partnered with a major youth club in the greater Houston area to establish an integrated grassroots program that provides nearly 6,000 boys and girls a direct pathway to the Dynamo or Dash first team.

3 - Have you upgraded your stadium in the past year, or are you building--or in the process of upgrading--your stadium? What is the cost?

We have made major investments into our nearly six-year-old stadium over the past year. Without disclosing the investment total, we can report that we have renovated the entire concourse, creating an entirely new experience for fans that is much more reflective of our community and particularly the neighborhood that we call home.

All of the concessions stands have been upgraded to improve the speed of service, the look and feel, and the quality of food on offer; and [the club] added new social areas in each corner of the stadium, including a dedicated Kids Corner that offers smaller and healthier portions, interactive games, and kid-friendly prices for our youngest fans and their parents.

Separately, we installed a new LED system and added a digital antenna system. We are in the process of replacing all of our premium seats. We created two new group hospitality spaces—the East End Ice House, which is located on the exterior of the stadium’s east side and provides a great pregame hospitality opportunity; and the Pitchside Patio, located right off the end line, making it the only field-level group hospitality space in Houston. We will continue to make meaningful capital improvements to enhance the fan experience.

4 - Where does your first team train? Have you upgraded, or are you building or improving, your first-team training facility? What is the cost?

Our first team trains on the Methodist Champions Field at the Houston Sports Park. That field is solely dedicated to the use of the Dynamo first team year round, while the Sports Park also offers six other fields for the Dash, Academy and other teams, including an all-weather FieldTurf surface. It is six-year-old facility, and we have made year-over-year changes to continuously improve it.

5 - Do you have a USL and/or NWSL team? If so, what are the operating and salary budgets for that team(s)?

We have a USL team (Rio Grande Valley Toros) and an NWSL team (Houston Dash).

We were the first in MLS to adopt the hybrid affiliation with a USL team, whereby the club is owned and operated by an independent party but we control the technical side, thus funding all elements of that, including but not limited to coaches’ and players’ salaries.

That model, while unusual when we launched it, is now being replicated and/or explored by several other MLS clubs. Additionally, we field a PDL team during the summer that trains at Houston Sports Park but plays in College Station (home of Texas A&M), roughly 90 minutes away. This creates further developmental opportunities for our Academy players who aren’t quite ready for the USL or who are on summer break, and it helps extend our club beyond the Houston area as well, much like RGV FC has done.

As for the Dash, we were the second MLS team to join NWSL behind Portland. We run and fully fund the operations of the club. We’re the only club in the United States to field teams in MLS, NWSL and USL along with a boys academy and a girls academy, thanks to the partnership referenced in the second question.

6 - How many front office employees does your club have? How many have you added or subtracted over the past year?

Not counting team staff for Dynamo, Dash and the Academy (coaches, trainers, kit men, video analysts, etc.), we have approximately 80 full-time employees on the business side. We have added every year.

7 - Please provide your starting XIs for your first two U.S. Open Cup or Canadian Championship games of 2017 (or just the first, if you lost your USOC opener).

Game 1 (3-2 at North Carolina FC)

GK Joe Willis; Ds Dylan Remick, Taylor Hunter, Jalil Anibaba, Kevin Garcia; MFs Charlie Ward, Eric Bird, Memo Rodríguez, Joseph Holland, Vicente Sanchez; F Andrew Wenger.

Game 2 (0-2 vs. Sporting Kansas City)

GK Joe Willis; Ds Dylan Remick, Taylor Hunter, Jalil Anibaba, Kevin Garcia; MFs Charlie Ward, Eric Bird, Memo Rodríguez, Alex, Andrew Wenger; F Vicente Sanchez.

8 - This question is for clubs that participated in the Concacaf Champions League at least once in the past five seasons: Did your club do anything special or extra to prepare for CCL competition, such as training or playing friendlies abroad, sending scouts abroad or scheduling different preseason opponents? What was the cost associated with the preparation?

Our last appearance in the CCL was in 2012. A lot has changed in that time span as to how MLS teams prepare. Our preparations at that time were consistent with what was being done league-wide. Should we participate again in the future, we’d expect our preparations to take on a different approach and focus on the best opportunity for success.

LAFC

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1 - How much money has your club spent across the past three years on Designated Players (transfer fees + salaries)? How much are you spending in 2018?

$17 million in 2018.

2 - How much has your club spent across the past three years on youth development? How many fully-funded (free) youth teams do you field?

$1.5 million over the past 18 months. We have three teams in 2018.

3 - Have you upgraded your stadium in the past year, or are you building--or in the process of upgrading--your stadium? What is the cost?

In the process of building a state-of-the-art, $350 million stadium in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, which hosts its first match April 29.

4 - Where does your first team train? Have you upgraded, or are you building or improving, your first-team training facility? What is the cost?

Our first team and Academy has moved into a new, state-of-the-art, $30 million facility on the campus of Cal-State Los Angeles.

5 - Do you have a USL and/or NWSL team? If so, what are the operating and salary budgets for that team(s)?

We currently have an affiliation with Orange County SC of the USL.

6 - How many front office employees does your club have? How many have you added or subtracted over the past year?

Approximately 115. Added more staff this season.

LA GALAXY

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1 - How much money has your club spent across the past three years on Designated Players (transfer fees + salaries)? How much are you spending in 2018?

2015—$11.0 million.

2016—$13.7 million.

2017—$12.0 million.

2018—$17.3 million.

2 - How much has your club spent across the past three years on youth development? How many fully-funded (free) youth teams do you field?

Past five years—$16.1 million.

Past year—$4.2 million.

LA Galaxy continued to invest substantially in youth development through the LA Galaxy Academy Blended Learning Program, which provides a full high school education at StubHub Center for student athletes immersed in the same professional environment as LA Galaxy and LA Galaxy II. Last year, the Blended Learning Program saw its first class of graduates. It is the only program in North America that allows Academy players to train and develop using the same facilities, schedule, and resources as an MLS and USL team.

The LA Galaxy launched LA Galaxy Girls’ U14, U15, U16/17 and U18/19 Academy teams that will compete in the U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy. We will have four girls’ academy teams. U14 and U15 are split. The LA Galaxy Girls’ Academy teams launch is the first and only girls academy program to be fully-funded by a Major League Soccer side, allowing talented local athletes to join free of charge.

This year, the LA Galaxy will host the LA Galaxy Cup, the club’s inaugural international tournament that will see world-class teams from across the globe competing in Southern California with Boys’ and Girls’ Development Academy and club teams at the U12-U19 levels. The LA Galaxy Cup is designed to give the LA Galaxy Academy and Galaxy partner youth clubs the platform to compete against global competition from the earliest ages possible. Manchester United, Swansea City, FC Porto and Club Tijuana are currently scheduled to participate, in addition to various MLS and USSDA youth sides.

The LA Galaxy will also renovate and upgrade the Track & Field Stadium at StubHub Center in order to maintain U.S. Soccer Division 2 requirements, to ensure LA Galaxy II will continue to have professional developmental opportunities.

3 - Have you upgraded your stadium in the past year, or are you building--or in the process of upgrading--your stadium? What is the cost?

Upgrades ($20 million-plus in past year) to StubHub Center facilities, including:

—New LED south video board, LED ribbon boards, renovated suites, locker room renovations and upgraded club seats.

—A new 20x52 LED video board on the south side of the stadium to compliment GalaxyTV, the largest board in Major League Soccer.

—Suite upgrades throughout StubHub Center.

—State-of-the-art LED ribbon boards around StubHub Center.

—Upgrade to club seats in section 110-113.

—Tip-up seats in the upper sideline section to replace bleacher rows.

—StubHub Center announced a partnership with Long Beach Transit that improves transportation to the stadium by offering free Galaxy Express shuttles to and from StubHub Center from two local transit centers on LA Galaxy game days.

—StubHub Center partnered with Daktronics of Brookings, South Dakota, to design, manufacture and install five new LED displays this spring as the state-of-the-art facility improves its fan experience for the LA Galaxy. The new displays improve entertainment experience by providing an additional 5,000 square feet of display space. The south display features a 13HD pixel layout to provide crisp, clear imagery with wide-angle visibility. It also features industry-leading environmental protection for consistent performance in the outdoor elements.

—StubHub Center announced a new partnership with Mobilitie, the largest privately-held wireless infrastructure provider in the United States, to improve in-stadium wireless connectivity for fans. StubHub Center will be able to offer improved fan experiences, complete with the rich, interactive mobile capabilities, real-time video streaming, location-based services, social media, and other mobile applications all delivered with seamless connectivity from start to finish.

—The LA Galaxy and StubHub Center launched an in-stadium greenhouse, chicken coop and beehives that will cultivate various produce and food, which will be made available at StubHub Center for athletes and staff. The launch was a part of the Protect the Pitch program, an initiative designed to help the LA Galaxy and StubHub Center reduce carbon footprint and become more sustainable.

Since 2013, the LA Galaxy have now invested over $35 million into StubHub Center, including the implementation of the LED video board, the addition of the all-inclusive premium club Jim Beam Champions Lounge and upgrades to the American Express Stadium Club.

4 - Where does your first team train? Have you upgraded, or are you building or improving, your first-team training facility? What is the cost?

At StubHub Center in adjacent fields. The Galaxy use the stadium and its facilities for all team-related activities: on-field training, strength and fitness training, sports science and player rehabilitation or recovery.

The LA Galaxy have invested heavily to upgrade all player facilities, including state-of-the-art workout room, weight room, spa room, equipment room, additional space and offices for team technical and coaching staff, and the newly-renovated Herbalife Nutrition player lounge area for the LA Galaxy, LA Galaxy II and all LA Galaxy Academy teams.

StubHub Center recently became the first soccer-specific stadium in Major League Soccer to illuminate its field using high-efficiency LED sports lights. The new, upgraded lights use over 60% less energy than the lighting array it replaced and offers athletes enhanced vision of field during play.

The LA Galaxy invested $1 million to renovate Field 7 at StubHub Center, which is used as the official training field for the LA Galaxy Girls’ Academy. The renovations saw the installation of AstroTurf’s cutting-edge DT32 System, replacing the previous crumb rubber synthetic field in addition to implementing enhanced field lighting.

The LA Galaxy are the only club in the United States that offers use of the same location and facilities for players from the youth level to the ranks of the professional first team.

5 - Do you have a USL and/or NWSL team? If so, what are the operating and salary budgets for that team(s)?

LA Galaxy II—operating/salary budgets: $2.3 million.

6 - How many front office employees does your club have? How many have you added or subtracted over the past year?

LA Galaxy—92 front office employees. The club added 12 new full-time business operations positions in 2018.

7 - Please provide your starting XIs for your first two U.S. Open Cup or Canadian Championship games of 2017 (or just the first, if you lost your USOC opener).

Game 1 (3-1 vs. Orange County SC)

GK Jon Kempin; Ds Hugo Arellano, Jelle Van Damme, Dave Romney, Nathan Smith; MFs Rafael Garcia, Jaime Villarreal, Ariel Lassiter, Jose Villarreal, Bradford Jamieson IV; F Jack McBean.

Game 2 (2-0 vs. Sacramento Republic)

GK Jon Kempin; Ds Josh Turnley, Hugo Arellano, Dave Romney, Nathan Smith; MFs Rafael Garcia, Joao Pedro, Ariel Lassiter, Raul Mendiola, Bradford Jamieson IV; F Jack McInerney.

8 - This question is for clubs that participated in the Concacaf Champions League at least once in the past five seasons: Did your club do anything special or extra to prepare for CCL competition, such as training or playing friendlies abroad, sending scouts abroad or scheduling different preseason opponents? What was the cost associated with the preparation?

The LA Galaxy implement a rigorous training schedule in advance of any competition, including CCL matches before the start of the MLS season, which included scheduling opponents to best prepare the club, traveling abroad early to adjust to different climates, time zones, etc., and ensuring that our technical staff has fully scouted any opponent.

Cost associated with preparations: $175,000.

MINNESOTA UNITED

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Declined multiple opportunities to provide answers. 

PORTLAND TIMBERS

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1 - How much money has your club spent across the past three years on Designated Players (transfer fees + salaries)? How much are you spending in 2018?

The club has consistently featured a full complement of three Designated Players and has made significant investments in these players in the form of transfer fees and salary over the last three years for DPs Fanendo Adi, Sebastián Blanco, Lucas Melano and Diego Valeri.

Moreover, the Timbers have made significant investments in TAM players in that span, notably with the additions of four new TAM players leading into the 2018 season (Samuel Armenteros, Julio Cascante, Cristhian Paredes and Andy Polo). The club, which will utilize its full allotment of mandatory and discretionary TAM equaling over $4 million over the course of the 2018 season, currently features three DPs (Adi, Blanco and Valeri) and seven TAM players (Armenteros, Cascante, Diego Chara, Larrys Mabiala, Paredes, Polo and Liam Ridgewell).

2 - How much has your club spent across the past three years on youth development? How many fully-funded (free) youth teams do you field?

The club doubled down on youth development spending over the last three years, and has increased its spending significantly since that point. The club now loses a net of $4 million a year between its youth development programs and its USL club, T2 ($3 million on youth development, $1 million on T2).

Youth development is a focal point for the club, and it will continue to increase this investment each year with the goal of consistently producing players that contribute to the first team each year from 2020 on. The club significantly increased spending at its development levels in the past two years, specifically, realizing its first homegrown player (Marco Farfan) to sign directly from the club’s academy and T2 programs in 2017, while also seeing a host of young players ascend through the ranks of its three-year-old T2 USL affiliate, manifested in additions to the first-team roster.

In 2018, the club signed its second homegrown player from its developing academy program, with the addition of Foster Langsdorf to the roster. Additionally, the club is investing in a significant expansion to its academy facilities to accommodate the further growth of the club, and has steadily increased spending in its youth development staff and robust youth partnerships across its territory. Additionally, T2 has added a host of quality young players for 2018 with this increased investment in development.

3 - Have you upgraded your stadium in the past year, or are you building--or in the process of upgrading--your stadium? What is the cost?

The club is investing more than $60 million in private funding to expand Providence Park, home of the Timbers and Portland Thorns FC. A two-phase project that is currently underway and will be completed for the 2019 season, the stadium expansion project will add more than 4,000 new seats and a striking street-level colonnade to the east side of the historic stadium, allowing the club to accommodate a sizable number of the more than 14,000 fans on the season ticket waiting list.

The expansion project takes a vertical approach to the existing stadium footprint and will increase venue capacity to more than 25,000 for the Timbers, who have sold out every home regular-season and playoff game since the beginning of their inaugural MLS season in 2011 (125 straight games leading into the 2018 season). The new three-level expansion on the east side will include 1,500 premium seats.

4 - Where does your first team train? Have you upgraded, or are you building or improving, your first-team training facility? What is the cost?

The Timbers train at the adidas Timbers Training Center in Beaverton, Ore. In addition to the considerable investment the Timbers are undertaking at Providence Park, the club is investing heavily in its training facility, with a current $5 million expansion project underway that will triple the size of the team’s six-year-old training home to 24,000 square feet.

Improvements include a massive new weight room, a film/theater room, new gourmet kitchen and dining facilities, additional auxiliary locker rooms, expanded treatment areas and enhanced media facilities. Plans are also underway to add fields both to the first-team training center and academy.

5 - Do you have a USL and/or NWSL team? If so, what are the operating and salary budgets for that team(s)?

The club owns and operates a USL team (Portland Timbers 2) and an NWSL team (Portland Thorns FC). Thorns FC have won two NWSL championships and one NWSL Shield in their five seasons and rank as the top-attended women’s professional sports team in the world, averaging more than 17,000 fans per game in 2018. The club’s USL team, T2, is entering its fourth season in 2018. The club invests heavily in both programs.

The club’s investment in the women’s game and the Thorns position as the gold standard for women’s soccer is a reflection of its overall ambition as a soccer club, not just a men’s soccer club.

6 - How many front office employees does your club have? How many have you added or subtracted over the past year?

140 full-time employees (e.g. with benefits)—up approximately 20 employees from last year.

7 - Please provide your starting XIs for your first two U.S. Open Cup or Canadian Championship games of 2017 (or just the first, if you lost your USOC opener).

Game 1 (1-2 at Seattle Sounders)

GK Jeff Attinella; Ds Marco Farfan, Lamar Batista, Rennico Clarke, Harold Hanson; MFs Victor Arboleda, Ben Zemanski, Andre Lewis, Omar Mohamed; Fs Jeremy Ebobisse, Augustine Williams.

Lineup decisions for the 2017 edition of the U.S. Open Cup, specifically, were balanced due to MLS schedule congestion, injuries, projected opponent lineup and field conditions. In balancing multiple competitions over the course of a season, the club has clearly stated that CCL is a priority, along with the MLS regular season and playoffs, but USOC is not.

8 - This question is for clubs that participated in the Concacaf Champions League at least once in the past five seasons: Did your club do anything special or extra to prepare for CCL competition, such as training or playing friendlies abroad, sending scouts abroad or scheduling different preseason opponents? What was the cost associated with the preparation?

Leading into the 2016-17 edition of the Concacaf Champions League, the Timbers placed an emphasis on signing players with significant CCL experience in the offseason and extensively scouted opponents games, facilities and accommodations in advance of the competition.

Additionally, the club traveled by charter and made additional investments in the form of added security, medical team, food and accommodations during away games. The club placed a great emphasis on CCL while managing and balancing multiple competitions over the course of the season.

REAL SALT LAKE

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1 - How much money has your club spent across the past three years on Designated Players (transfer fees + salaries)? How much are you spending in 2018?

To open the 2018 season, RSL will have the following DPs on the roster: Albert Rusnák, Jefferson Savarino and Yura Movsisyan. Their combined salaries for 2018 are expected in the $3.3 million range.

The [combined] transfer fees for the three players listed above were approximately $2.5 million, while fees paid in recent years are likely about $2.5 million, including TAM acquisitions. To clarify, all $5 million has been spent in the past 3 windows.

2 - How much has your club spent across the past three years on youth development? How many fully-funded (free) youth teams do you field?

In the past three years, we have spent north of $12 million on youth development for our U19, U17 and U15 teams, including housing, instruction, travel (domestic and international). This total does not include the move from Arizona to Utah, the establishment of the RSL Academy High School (which opened in August 2017), and the $78 million physical facility now fully opening in Herriman, just 15 minutes from Rio Tinto Stadium.

Also, in December in North Logan, Utah (owner Dell Loy Hansen’s hometown), RSL opened the first of six planned “regional training centers” across Utah and Arizona. The $6 million facility—which includes an outdoor field, an indoor field and a classroom/locker room setup—is designed to give kids ages 7-14 the opportunity to gain time on the ball, learn/hone basic skills and for local youth teams, coaches, referees, parents, etc., the opportunity to operate under an RSL-driven curriculum that includes various sessions led by both current and former professional players from both the men’s and women’s sides of the organization.

Future sites include: Ogden, Rose Park/Taylorsville, Orem, St. George, Phoenix and Tucson.

Additionally, two clubs in the Phoenix area, the legendary Sereno FC and Legacy FC, recently combined under the “RSL Arizona” umbrella, bringing 10,000 boys and girls in the most populous area of our region into the RSL pipeline.

Evidence of the club’s youth commitment was on full display last spring and summer, as it placed five players—25% of USA U20 coach Tab Ramos’s team – on the Concacaf champion and FIFA U20 quarterfinalists. Justen Glad, Brooks Lennon, Danny Acosta and Aaron Herrera were consistent starters in both international tourneys, with Sebastian Saucedo appearing regularly off the bench and finding the back of the net.

The inclusion of this young, dynamic quintet on RSL’s 2018 roster brings to eight the number of homegrown academy players on Mike Petke’s squad, as Jordan Allen, Jose Hernandez and Corey Baird also have matriculated to MLS from the club’s academy roots.

All told, RSL entered the 2018 preseason with 13 players at or under the age of 24.

3 - Have you upgraded your stadium in the past year, or are you building--or in the process of upgrading--your stadium? What is the cost?

Ongoing projects spanning the 2017-18 seasons include the establishment of the Audi Executive Club, a 256-seat premium area with four-seat memberships sold out on multi-year deals at $25,000 per year to create a premium business networking experience (roughly $1.6 million per year of premium revenue).

Cost of the club, which occupies a previously undeveloped piece of the east side concourse at Rio Tinto Stadium, was just under $2.5 million. Rio Tinto Stadium is also currently undergoing a new wi-fi upgrade. The venue now boasts connectivity through its “Red Sky” partner and infrastructure, designed to enable 20,000 fans in a confined area to stream video replays on personal devices, upload social images and video, etc.

Also, Rio Tinto Stadium has upgraded its locker room offerings for Utah Royals FC, spending $1 million in design/construction costs in the last three months, following a significant upgrade three years ago to the RSL lounge. Finally, RSL’s broadcast infrastructure is receiving an upgrade with a permanent set location in the 2nd floor “Interform Club” for pre/halftime/post-game content with Brian Dunseth and other talent, complete with video wall installations to maximize partner elements behind the set and in the first-floor press conference location, made famous by Mike Petke and now welcoming Laura Harvey.

4 - Where does your first team train? Have you upgraded, or are you building or improving, your first-team training facility? What is the cost?

RSL fully moved into its new $78 million Zions Bank Real Academy facility in March.

On Feb. 28, RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen was joined in Herriman by MLS commissioner Don Garber, Zions Bank CEO Scott Anderson, and other local, state and civic dignitaries for the official grand opening of the facility. It includes: the 5,000-seat Zions Bank Stadium; the indoor Zions Bank Training Center; North America’s largest free-span steel structure housing two regulation-size fields boasting “Greenfields” turf (the same surface used in the Dutch Eredivisie); five full-size grass “TORO Fields” for RSL, Monarchs and Academy use; the 90-bed residence hall for the club’s U19, U17 and visiting U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams; and the 300-student RSL Academy High School, chartered in conjunction with Jordan School District with a STEM curriculum.

5 - Do you have a USL and/or NWSL team? If so, what are the operating and salary budgets for that team(s)?

The Zions Bank Real Academy campus will also serve as the daily training home for the club’s USL side, Real Monarchs SLC, which enters its fourth season of existence in March. In cases of inclement weather, the NWSL Utah Royals FC will also train in the spectacular Herriman facility.

The Monarchs—coached by Mike Petke for one game last year prior to his promotion to the first team and now headed by former Petke assistant Mark Briggs (who is assisted by former MLS players Jámison Olave and Danny Cruz)—captured the 2017 USL regular-season shield title with Chandler Hoffman, Sebastian Velasquez and several other D2 standouts. Three Monarchs players—Taylor Peay, Nick Besler and Connor Sparrow—earned MLS contracts in late 2017 or during the 2018 offseason based on their performances. The Monarchs have served as a competitive home for numerous young rookie and/or academy-developed MLS players in the club’s system. Justen Glad, Jordan Allen, Ricardo Velazco and Chris Schuler are just a few players—along with former Monarchs co