Real Salt Lake became the twelfth MLS franchise when Major League Soccer awarded an expansion franchise on July 14, 2004, to SCP Worldwide, headed by Dave Checketts. Jason Kreis became the first player in RSL history, coming in a trade from the Dallas Burn. Other notable players that played in RSL’s early years include veterans Clint Mathis, Eddie Pope, and Jeff Cunningham.
RSL’s first season was 2005 under head coach John Ellinger. RSL began to play on April 2, 2005, against New York MetroStars at Giants Stadium, which ended in a scoreless tie. The following week, Jason Kreis scored the first goal in franchise history in a 3–1 loss to LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center. RSL played its first-ever home match on April 16, 2005, before 25,287 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium; Brian Dunseth scored a header in the 81st minute to deliver a 1–0 victory over the Colorado Rapids. The season was mostly a disappointment, however, with the team setting a league record by posting a 557-minute scoreless streak (later broken by Toronto FC). They were also on a 10-game losing streak before managing a 2–2 draw on the road against San Jose Earthquakes. The first season finished with a record of 5–22–5.