Goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, currently plays in Major League Soccer (MLS) for the Chicago Fire and is also a member of the US Men’s National Team. Go on the road with Johnson this year as he gives you a player’s view into each MLS city, as only he can do. Take a look:
With a long road trip ahead, I found myself packing for the long haul with a two game away stretch starting in Salt Lake City. The year has really picked up! We have so many games in a short amount of time, especially when you factor in the extra games we had played in the US Open Cup. More away games means more exciting travel pieces, let’s go!!
Salt Lake City is another city that has a breathtaking view when you are making your final decent into the city. You can already tell that the city has so much to offer before you even step foot on solid ground. I’m sure there is a lot more than meets the eye, so I had to get an insider’s-guide to what seems like a fantastic city.
Choosing an insider was a rather easy choice for this city. He goes by many names such as Maundyol, Maundelele, Maundihno (Put Maund before just about any historic soccer players name and you’ve got it!) but most refer to him by his birth name, Aaron Maund.
Aaron and I go way back to our Under 20 National Team days when we first met and became best friends almost instantaneously (see photo collage above…yikes). We have both grown up in MLS and have had the opportunity to play against each other for many years. He has been in Salt Lake City for two seasons now and I consider him to be a google search engine when it comes to his knowledge of the city, so let’s see what he had to say:
SJ: What’s the vibe of SLC?
AM: People are cool here. It’s a very small community so it’s pretty tight-knit. You start to see a lot of reoccurring faces, it’s a real family feel here in Salt Lake. It’s smaller than any other city I’ve been to and it has some good qualities.
SJ: What are some popular outdoor activities in your city?
AM: There’s a lot to do out here. There’s obviously the snowboard, winter culture and ski culture in winter but we don’t really have a lot of time to get involved in any of that stuff. I hike personally, and I fly fish. A lot of the guys on the team also fly fish. A lot of the guys with dogs hike. There are a lot of nice golf courses out here that a lot of the guys on the team frequent. It’s cool to be outdoors and the altitude kind of plays into that. Because the summers are pretty hot, it will be triple digits, but it’s still pretty dry and the heat won’t kill you like it does on the East coast with the humidity. This time of year its summertime but you can get outdoors because it’s not unbearably hot so it’s cool.
SJ: What are some good places to hike?
AM: The whole city is lined with mountains you can hike up. There’s a place close that if you’re coming into town, and staying downtown, there’s a hike that’s pretty easy that’s right up by the capital. You can go to Bells Canyon, Mill Creek Canyon. A lot of them are pretty cool, they have lakes up at the top and it’s kind of cool to hike up to a lake or waterfall. There’s a lot of good places around here, just depends on your level of experience and how long you want to hike to be honest.
SJ: I am a fisherman myself, so I have to ask, where are some good places to fly fish?
AM: There’s tons of river trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, green trout, there’s tons of different trout. There’s a lot of fresh water up here. We usually fish the Provo River which is a pretty big river here. I’m not as experienced as some of the other guys but I’m told it’s some of the best fishing around.
SJ: What are some of your favorite spots to grab a bite?
AM: There’s Beer Bar, they have really good bar food. A good breakfast spot is this place called Park Café, it’s actually where a lot of the players go on game day so it’s pretty cool. It’s a spot that we all frequent. There’s also a sushi spot called, Takashi, which is some of the best sushi I’ve ever had.
SJ: Describe the atmosphere in the RioTinto Stadium?
AM: It’s actually incredible! For such a small market, and for our fans to show us love like they do every week, is amazing. Like I said earlier, Salt Lake City is such a small place and you start to see the same faces and get to know everyone around, same thing at the stadium. There’s so many season ticket holders that whenever I walk out and look to my right, I see the same people in the same seats and that’s cool. You get to know them and the atmosphere. A lot of the fans I know personally, I’ll see them out. We have our hashtag, #RSLFamily, and you see that in our stadium, it’s cool playing there.
SJ: Are there any popular supporter’s bars that a fan could go to catch a game?
AM: One of the big bars we have, I think it’s actually a soccer bar, it’s called Beer Bar, and they always show the games and all types of soccer games. You walk in there on a Tuesday for lunch and they’re showing English Championship games. If it’s soccer, they’ll show it. They also have a bus that’s like a party bus that drives to the games on game days. There’s actually a couple places that do that. There’s another place called Dick N’ Dixie’s. It’s really cool because the bars really support us and they show the games so it’s really cool.
SJ: You have 10 seconds to sell people on why people should come visit YOUR city…go!
AM: You can get anything you want in Salt Lake City, outdoors is great. There’s a cool atmosphere. I’ve been here four years and you know when you come here you’re going to have a good time.