- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On April 20, 2011
- 2 Comments
- 2010/11 CCL
I’ll probably be writing that same line again next week but it goes without saying, tonight, history can certainly be made for Real Salt Lake as they travel to Mexico to play Monterrey in the first leg of the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League final.
Just a couple numbers to throw out at you to get started here.
– RSL is 4-0 in the young MLS season, and its 34-game home unbeaten run in all competitions. A pretty sick figure you ask me. Maybe one of the longest streaks in the world too.
– Los Rayados have yet to lose during CCL, compiling an 8-0-2 record during group and elimination play. They outscored their opponents 16-6 during that stretch. So let’s just say winning won’t be east for RSL.
– RSL could be the first MLS side to win a CONCACAF tournament that doesn’t involve playing games solely on US soil. D.C. United and the LA Galaxy may have won the regional tournaments back in the day but they never had to leave the US to do so. RSL has had a different monster to deal with.
– RSL’s road to the final has been a doozy too. 10 games to reach the final, including five difficult road matches against teams like Mexico’s Cruz Azul and Costa Rica’s Saprissa.
– No MLS/US team has won a competitive game in Mexico. I’d throw the actual number up but its so depressing to write I just don’t want to see it again until that first digit listed is a one and not a zero. Sure we’ve seen a couple draws but until we get a club to win in Mexico, then it will be worth mentioning again.
Okay, so again, there is a lot riding on tonight for RSL and for MLS. US soccer fans are all interested in seeing how RSL will do in this final. Steve Davis put up a nice little story about rival club’s supporters and how they view RSL in this match. Very interesting comments, I submitted mine but it missed the cut. I was probably too short and sweet, seeing how I said I hoped RSL does well tonight and that I would be rooting for them.
While fans think various things about tonight, I think all can agree that this is a big one for the league and US soccer in general. While it could be hard to pull for RSL if you don’t like them, I have to say if you want to see this league continue to grow, you need them to pull this final out. Winning this tournament puts MLS on the map more than it ever would in our own region here and should RSL do well in the FIFA Club World Cup later this year in Japan, it will help grow the league’s profile around the world as well.
Not getting to that next level of the Club World Cup wouldn’t be the worst thing for RSL or the league but it would be a set back in some ways. As a supporter of the league, I want to see one of our clubs go as far as they possibly can here. I just don’t see another club in MLS having the same chance in the next CCL tournament to do what RSL is trying to do here. You can’t tell me for a second that the Colorado Rapids are as deep as RSL for the next CCL tournament. Same goes for the LA Galaxy, the Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas and whomever comes out of Canada (oddly enough my money will be on Montreal in that one this year).
Winning tonight in Mexico would be a treat for any US fan, yes, even some Rapids fans. It won’t be easy though as Monterrey is surely going to bring their best in this leg of the final. They have to know that RSL put up more of a fight than any MLS club before them in the group stages against fellow Mexican club Cruz Azul. Given the way Monterrey has played recently in their league matches, they cannot afford a shootout with RSL at home, especially when away goals matter. Plus as any MLS club will tell you, you don’t want to go to Rio Tinto down a couple goals if you don’t have to.
Monterrey is a possession loving team and will control the tempo in this one early. RSL says they’ll go for the win but let’s be honest a draw or a 2-1 loss is really what it is all about here tonight. A win would be lovely but anything more than a 2-1 loss would be very tough to overcome.
I won’t do a full on preview of tonights game given the fact that I don’t know Monterrey all that well. I’ll let other folks do that. I do think RSL will stand a good chance tonight to come out alive enough to go for the gold next week when the series shifts to Rio Tinto Stadium.
Linkage For Tonight:
A great history piece (yes short history even) of Real Salt Lake by SI.com’s Grant Wahl. Love the quotes about Jason Kreis. Just shows how this organization is so well run here, hopefully others take note.
My buddy Brian Straus on what this game means.
Keeping It Real’s Randy Davis’s piece on MLSSoccer.com.
#MLS4RSL – the lovely hashtag for tonight.