SANDY (ABC4) – Justin Meram, who had a hand in two of Real Salt Lake’s biggest goals of the 2021 season, inked a new two-year deal with the club on Monday.
“Since his arrival in Salt Lake ahead of the 2020 season, Justin has been a valuable contributor to our team.” RSL General Manager Elliot Fall said in a press release. “Ensuring his return for 2022 was a priority for us this offseason and we’re very pleased we were able to get it done. Justin will provide Pablo [Mastroni] and his staff another proven attacking option for our group moving forward.”
In the 95th minute of RSL’s Nov. 7 match against Sporting Kansas City, Meram was credited with an assist after brushing the ball on a bicycle kick attempt that was eventually booted in by Damir Kreilach to send the club to the postseason. Later, in the Western Conference Semifinal against Kansas City, he also assisted on Bobby Wood’s game-winner that put RSL into the next round of the playoffs.
An 11-year veteran in Major League Soccer, Meram has notched 48 goals and 44 assists across 295 caps. He has also donned the kit of his native Iraq in 33 international appearances and scored three of his four goals for the club during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
“I’m so thankful and blessed to re-sign with RSL,” Meram said. “The organization and fans have treated me and my family incredibly well since I joined in 2020. I’m thankful for my relationship with Pablo [Mastroeni] and the coaching staff for their belief in me. I’m ready for 2022 and to push for a championship with this Club.”
While Meram will be a familiar face for the club in 2022, RSL will be led by a group of new ownership, including multi-franchise owner David Blitzer, and Ryan Smith, the majority owner of the Utah Jazz. NBA legend and Jazz minority owner Dwyane Wade will also have a hand in the club’s new direction.
However, RSL will have some major holes to fill in its lineup, following the departure of captain Albert Rusnak, who announced his intention to pursue a new opportunity with a different club over the offseason last week.
Last season, despite a tumulous campaign that included the departure of head coach Freddy Juarez to become an assistant coach in Seattle, and muddled ownership as the league pursued a buyer for the club, RSL finished with a 14-14-6 record with 48 points. The team advanced to the Western Conference Final, where it was defeated by the Portland Timbers, 2-0.