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Get Real: RSL vying to win in Mexico, take CCL final advantage over Monterrey

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Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com

By JOSE M. ROMERO

Those who take more than a passing interest in Major League Soccer knew Real Salt Lake would have a quality side in 2011. 

Twelve points and a tie for the Western Conference lead say so thus far. But RSL has a chance to do something truly remarkable for an MLS club roughly a month into the season — win the CONCACAF Champions League title and represent the region in the FIFA Club World Cup.

That has never been achieved by an MLS team. Neither has winning a meaningful game in Mexico. It's not enough that Real Salt Lake made MLS history just by getting to the CCL final. Now, starting with the first leg Wednesday at Estadio Tecnologico, RSL has a golden opportunity to win a competition routinely dominated by Mexican club teams. One, Monterrey, stands in the way of a trophy of monumental significance for club and league. 

Hola Primera Division. Somos "Eme-ele-ese."

"Other than the MLS Cup, we’ve never played a game in our history that’s as big as this," RSL owner Dave Checketts said. "This is an opportunity to stamp Real Salt Lake’s presence on the entire world of soccer. I don’t think anyone could have imagined that. It’s an incredible opportunity."

RSL has long since arrived in Monterrey to get used to the heat (temperatures in the high 90s) and the way the stadium's field plays. Players realize that pride is at stake, especially for Los Rayados, who want to maintain Mexico's supremacy in this competition and win their first CCL title since 1993.

Think this doesn't mean much to Monterrey? Think again.

"All of this would lose sense if we are not champions of something," team president Jorge Urdiales told the Mexican newswire Agencia Reforma. "I want to emphasize to the fans that it is important for all of us to get involved and united for Wednesday."

Said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman: "These teams know how important these tournaments are and they are used to this type of tournament. I think we are going to have to keep at it and keep believing that we can get one over on these guys."

Real hopes to build off a good performance in Mexico earlier in CCL play, a 5-4 loss to Cruz Azul last fall. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando doesn't think his team will fear its opponent.

"We were the underdogs before and we know what it is like to come into an environment and not expect to win or pull a result out, and I think we have the guys who can do that," Rimando said. "There is nothing that says we can’t go in in there and get a result.  We don’t have to win but getting a result would be good for us."

Real Salt Lake knows, from Checketts to the players, that it is representing MLS and that teams throughout the league are rallying behind it. MLS commissioner Don Garber will be on hand in Monterrey Wednesday, and many other league executives and employees will travel to Sandy, Utah, for the second leg at Rio Tinto Stadium April 27.

RSL coach Jason Kreis expressed gratitude to the league office for helping make it possible for his team to be competitive in the tournament.

"There have been teams in the past built on the starting 11 and once you got past that, the depth and true quality of the players went down drastically," Kreis said. "I would say at Real Salt Lake we’ve been supported on a different level by our ownership and we’ve been supported on a different level by the league because of how much emphasis and how much help they’ve been willing to give us and put some weight behind this CONCACAF competition.

"Finally, I would say the league has made some very good decisions over the past five years about raising salary caps and making it possible for teams to get more depth and more quality from No. 1 to No. 30."

Comments

  1. I’m a huge fan of MLS dummy. It’s not my fault your IQ is so quickly deflated. CONCACAF and the CCL are extremely corrupt and it is a huge joke to play in that tourney. Just because it’s the biggest tourney in the region doesn’t make this any less of a case.

    Have you watched a CCL match? Have you seen the reffing, the stadiums, the fans, the management? Christ. Just the fact that the head of the CCL tournament had his team involved is reason enough, but take a look deeper. That is, if your IQ can handle it.

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  2. A fan of MLS huh? And u can’t see the significance of this. Reading ur post just lowered the IQ of everyone who had the misfortune of reading it.

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  3. troll…if you aren’t a fan of RSL, fine. But this is the tournament for our region and it is gaining credibility each year. RSL taking this tournament seriously has done nothing but raise the profile of MLS and CCL. RSL in this final is good for our league, and if you can’t see that then you are blind.

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  4. I may be the only fan of MLS to think this way, but I hope RSL gets rocked. The CCL is a joke. Then again, the CCL and RSL were made for each other…

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  5. Actually Playing in Argentina doesnt pay much

    Brazil and Chile have better finances

    If it comes down to Money its basically

    1. Brazil
    2. Mexico
    3. Chile
    4. Argentina
    5. MLS
    6. Remaining South American Leagues
    7. Central America
    8. Caribbean

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  6. Do you know if they’ll be streaming that through the Univision website (they do it sometimes for US games). If not, I’ll have to go to the bar…I really have no TV here.

    Thanks for the info.

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  7. keep drinking the Hater-Aid…It’s all good.
    Hornets played as well as they have played all year without Westbrook chances of them playing like that again in a 7-game series? please…Lakers will win 3 games by accident.

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  8. This is a huge game probably the most important in the club’s history and one of the biggest for any club in MLS period. It will be difficult because those like myself that follow Mexican soccer know how good Monterrey is. But if there is an MLS club who pull the upset will be RSL. Best of luck and you bet I’ll be watching and rooting! Hopefully the rest of MLS learns from this great club.

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  9. MLS has participated in Libertadores in the past, but they were so bad that the South Americans quit inviting them. As for the Nats rankings, its total nonesence what you wrote. MLS performance doesn’t have anything to do with the national team.

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  10. Not sure if you are being sarcastic, but if you are not then I don’t think you understand the significance of this match-up. The CWC is kind of a joke, but it is also highly marketed and it is a FIFA event, so doing well in it would also help the Nats with rankings etc (even if they don;t say that it does). I’m sure that the goal of the league office is to overtake Mexico as the league to play in after Brasil and Argentina. This would be a huge step in that direction.

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  11. Seattle has proven itself to be great at beating lower division sides and competent in MLS play, but they never had a chance at the CCL final.

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  12. Best of luck to those guys–they’ve worked hard. Gotta admit, I’m annoyed because I was really hoping Seattle would be the team to do this, but very happy that one of our own got through.

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  13. Oh yes what a great story … Just like CD9, or Santino, how about that poacher goal by Landon in WC 2010?… nobody cares. It’s just a game, 180 minutes, that’s all. Monterrey will probably win because they’re the better team. But again, who cares, they’re not Barcelona.

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  14. concacaf dot com . you’ll need to register for free. Telefutura or FSC if you have Digital Cable. For telefutura, I know it’s on DTV for the NY/NJ area, but I dont know where you live.

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  15. As a fan of a team that has chased this dream from the beginnings of the league this is huge just to get to the championship. It is such a great story and can only hope that RSL gets it done. Take down Monterrey!

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  16. I think if they represent the region at the CWC it would be HUGE. If MLS constantly goes there AND does well, it would elevate MLS to a level where maybe stars would like to play here instead of using it as a pre-retirement league. I’m not saying that this would happen in less than 20 years, but it’s a step in the right direction…now all they need to do is win. haha

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