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Why Bojan Bogdanovic has a rooting interest in Real Salt Lake’s title hopes

The Jazz forward is close friends with fellow Croatian and RSL midfielder Damir Kreilach and wants to see RSL in the MLS Cup final

Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic talks during media media day at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Sept. 27, 2021.
Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) talks during the Utah Jazz media media day at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. Bogdanovic will be cheering for Real Salt Lake when RSL faces the Portland Timbers in the MLS Cup Western Conference final.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

On Saturday the Utah Jazz will travel to Cleveland ahead of their Sunday game against the Cavaliers, the first of a four-game road trip.

But on Saturday there’s another Utah team that will be in the throes of competition as Real Salt Lake takes on the Timbers in Portland in the MLS Cup Western Conference final.

Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic is close friends with fellow Croatian and RSL midfielder Damir Kreilach, and Bogdanovic closely followed RSL’s run up to the playoffs and their two postseason victories against the Seattle Sounders and Sporting KC.

So, as I began to ask Bogdanovic what time the Jazz would be traveling on Saturday, he knew what I was getting at.

“Yeah, we’re going to get there in time,” he said with a smile. “They’ve got a big one on Saturday. I’m excited for the game and for all of them, they’re proving everyone wrong.”

Bogdanovic isn’t just a casual fan or just going along because he’s friends with Kreilach. He’s become more and more invested in MLS and was aware that the Timbers would be playing without two key players — midfielder Sebastian Blanco (hamstring) and forward Dairon Asprilla (red card) — and he knew the reasons they had been ruled out as well.

With Portland being shorthanded and the momentum RSL is taking into Saturday’s game after being doubted for weeks, Bogdanovic firmly believes that the Claret and Cobalt have a chance to make it to the MLS Cup final.

Bogdanovic has been in contact with Kreilach on a daily basis and said that the excitement from him and the team has been palpable.

“They’re really excited,” he said. “They see the light that they can win it all.”

Bogdanovic won’t be able to watch RSL in person on Saturday, and if RSL beats Portland the Jazz will be playing in Washington on the day that RSL would either be playing in New York or Philadelphia for the MLS Cup.

But, no matter what, Bogdanovic will be watching and supporting from afar.

“They really, really have a chance,” Bogdanovic said. “The way that they are playing, and the way that they stuck together through really, really tough times in the last three or four games during the regular season — kind of helped them to play well in the playoffs. They’re full of confidence, and I hope that they’re gonna make the big finals.”