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Real Salt Lake reaches first MLS Cup final after beating Chicago in PKs

Nick Rimando (ISIphotos.com)

Photo by ISIphotos.com 

Real Salt Lake is heading to its first MLS Cup Final after beating the Chicago Fire on penalty kicks at Toyota Park on Saturday night.

Goalkeeper Nick Rimando stole the show, making three penalty saves to win the second playoff penalty shootout of his career. Real Salt Lake substitute Ned Grabavoy sealed the Eastern Conference Final victory and trip to MLS Cup with his converted penalty kick.

The result continues a dream run for RSL, which was the last team to qualify for the MLS playoffs. First, came the upset series victory against the defending champions Columbus Crew, then came Saturday's hard-fought penalty shootout victory against a Chicago side that never could get a shot past Rimando in regulation.

Now Real Salt Lake will face the Los Angeles Galaxy in an MLS Cup Final that should offer its share of excitement.

The season is over for the Chicago Fire, which lost its second penalty shootout of the year (it lost the SuperLiga Final to Tigres), and now an offseason of uncertainty awaits as the club faces a major shake-up with several players and possibly head coach Denis Hamlett leaving this winter.

What did you think of RSL's victory? Still can't believe they've reached the final? Stunned to see the Chicago Fire eliminated? Think RSL has one more upset left in it?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. RSL all the way on this one, they are the underdog, and they are deserving of everyones support, including those of the Sounders. I’m hoping the Sounders fans support RSL, and join in on RSL’s chants. RSL represent real soccer, not overpaid, primadonnas. I like there style of play, and never die attitude. They deserve the championship, they represent all that the sport should represent.

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  2. Rimando’s first save was not on the ground. It was in the upper half of the goal to Rimando’s left. It was great anticipation and a fantastic save!

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  3. It’s not a big deal at all, and I’m not complaining. It just cracks me up. The NCAAs aren’t a real good comparison since their “regions” are just based on where the tourny games are played, but I get your point.

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  4. Rimando is four feet tall. All three of his saves were on basically on the ground to his left. Why on earth did the Fire stop going high?

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  5. RSL is playing well. LA is playing well and sunday should be a great match. If RSL continues on its recent form it will win this one.

    See you in Seattle

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  6. Agreed. Top to bottom, this is one of the best teams in the league; their biggest problem has been a relatively inexperienced coach who wasn’t sure how to approach road games. Give them a modest five road wins (rather than two) and they win the supporters shield. But Kreis is smart and getting more savvy, and the rest of the league is in trouble now.

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  7. Well put, last season we dominated NY and they barely pulled off the win, through this playoffs we dominated again. The better team won this year and now we are going for the cup

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  8. Reporters and fans have totally misread RSL’s run to final, comparing it to NYRB’s last year, and commenting that RSL is somehow playing above it’s level.

    In reality, RSL is finally playing at the level where it was predicted to at the beginning of the season for example SBI’s preseason comment):

    “Outlook: After coming so close to reaching MLS Cup in 2008, RSL brings all its key players back and looks poised to unseat Houston as the class of the Western Conference.”

    RSL clearly underperformed for much of the year, yet saw flashes of what they were capable of (6-0 against NE, 4-1 against Columbus, 2-0 away against LA, 4-0 against Chivas) in between their woeful inconsistency.

    What they found at the end of the season was a second attacking midfielder (Andy Williams) who is able to hold and create along with Javi Morales. This solidified the midfield into one that was able to finally do what people thought they were going to do all season: attacking possession oriented soccer.

    I have commented and continued to comment that this team, when it is playing its best, is as good or better than any other team in the MLS at their best. This is no fluke, this is RSL finally playing as they should have for more of the season.

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  9. Why is this a big deal? without the move they don’t make the playoffs and DC does. Its like Mississippi state winning the west bracket in college basketball,or stanford winning the east, I mean I don’t hear anyone in other sports complain as much as soccer fans.

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  10. Should be an intense final…the playoffs this year have been pretty entertaining, what with all the confrontations, smack talking and finger pointing going on during and after games. Corey Ashe telling Beckham to f-off at the end of the West final was hilarious! Anybody else notice this during the Oduro-Beckham dustup?

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  11. The goal of any team in any professional sport is to score. At some point, besides human error by the attackers, you have to give some credit to the value of defense. I found both conference chamionship games entertaining and full of the highs and lows of good sporting competition.

    I am starting to wonder if the proliferation of sports video games is starting to skew some people’s perception of human endeavor. These aren’t robots. One would think that sports are enjoyable because it is human beings striving, with all of their imperfections and athletic gifts on display, to work together to win a game that has certain rules. And even the referees are human, too. Amazing concept.

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  12. Nick was great. Penalty shoot-out after another 0-0 game is a reflection on the entire MLS’ low scoring season. Sigi said on his team’s inability to finish, we practice finishing all the time. But what is the practice, hopefully not the ten meter run onto a still ball that we see in pre-game, and never during run of play.

    The entire league needs to look at themselves for not improving player finishing.

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  13. As a RSL and Galaxy fan (having lived in both places while growing up) I have to say I am rooting for RSL since Utah hasn’t won anything in the pro sports arena since the Stars won the ABA championship (which really means nothing to 99% of Utahns) but I’ll be happy with either outcome.

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  14. i knew once the extra halves started that if we went to PK’s we’d lose… then i started thinking we’d make it, but then Rimando jumped into a phone booth to reveal he’s truly superman :(…. ugg, painful

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  15. Thank you for agreeing with me, but in what way is rock music “technically” British?

    The British may have embraced it, they may have improved it, they may even have perfected it — but it is 100% of American origin.

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  16. RSL won the season series – 2-2 tie at Rio Tinto that featured three goals in stoppage time (Rimando was out injured), and 2-0 RSL at HDC (Donovan was out for Confed Cup).

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  17. How wonderful is it that Salt Lake gets the EASTERN Conf trophy? I understand the playoff format, but for whatever reason that photo of Rimado with an actual trophy (which I assume will say Eastern on it) cracks me up. I can just picture someone years from now looking at their trophy case and thinking WTF?

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  18. RSL is actually deserving of reaching the MLS Cup.

    I predict a 2-1 Galaxy win. Donovan and Beckham light it up. Findley vs. Gonzalez will be fun to watch. Hope it isn’t a snooze fest, and that the Sounders fans don’t act a fool and embarrass themselves.

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  19. Speaking of hair, that bald dude, in the above photo, on the right with Beckerman positioned just behind, creates a juxtaposition that resembles Beckham with his Mad Max feral kid hair-do.

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  20. Give me Carlos Valderama’s hair over Beckerman’s any day for personality on the pitch.

    Also, he’s clearly hiding some sort of weapon in there so he can cut up opponents on headers.

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  21. It was an entertaining game. Only the third RSL match I’ve see this season, but each time I’ve thought
    they put on a pretty good show.

    Nick Rimando looked great, Beckerman’s hair did not.

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  22. Just tell them you’ll give up the phrase “PK” as soon as they give up rock music, Coca-Cola, personal computers and all the other American stuff they enjoy.

    They don’t own the game of soccer.

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  23. By the way, if you ever want to annoy a British soccer fan, aside from actually saying the word “soccer,” call penalties “PKs.” They go nuts. It’s quite amusing.

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  24. The only difference is that the Red Bulls last year were dominated in the Conference finals, except on the scoreboard. This year, RSL dominated possession and had as many opportunities, if not more, to score in regulation as Chicago had.

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  25. Its all a moot point. The Galaxy will pin star number 3 on the crest of its jersey next week.

    I’m LA till I die, I’m LA till I die, I am I am I know I am I’m LA till I die.

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