RSL poised to make history

BorchersRSL (Reuters Pictures)


By JOSE M. ROMERO

With a win at home Wednesday night, where Real Salt Lake hasn't lost in 37 straight matches, the 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League trophy will find a home in Sandy, Utah.

It's quite a story. Real Salt Lake has become the darling of soccer in America, with fellow MLS clubs among the many who've gotten behind the claret-and-blue shield in mass show of support for the club. Real Salt Lake's second-leg final with Monterrey of Mexico concludes at Rio Tinto Stadium, and one of the teams will be crowned regional club champion while clinching a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup.

For RSL, winning puts the club in a bigger spotlight and automatically raises the profile of MLS with it. Winning would make Real Salt Lake the first MLS team to lift the CONCACAF Champions League trophy, a piece of history RSL will have earned. 

"We're carrying the flag right now, and we're the vanguard," RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey said Monday. "The incredible emphasis that we've put on this competition has proved worthwhile for us. 

"One of the important themes here is that even if we are fortunate enough to win this thing, if you want to permanently alter the landscape you have to have consistent MLS success in this tournament. The league has created a number of incentives to make that possible: lightening the schedule, providing allocation money for the teams in the tournament. Those are things that help and show everybody that this is for the benefit of the league."

Lagerwey feels there is still a lot of work to be done to make MLS matter in its own country. Part of the search for more attention for the league is making sure all clubs take CCL participation seriously each year.

He said many U.S. soccer fans still tune out MLS and watch EPL matches instead.

"I think we get more respect outside our country than we do inside it, and I think we'll win over a whole bunch of fans who simply can’t ignore us if we’re able to win and achieve consistent success," Lagerwey said. "We cannot expect to be given respect. We have to earn it."

Real Salt Lake will have to go on without midfielder and captain Kyle Beckerman, who got his second yellow card of the CCL knockout round and therefore is ineligible to play Wednesday.

It's a tough problem to have, but then RSL has a ton of depth.

"Luckily we have a strong and large roster with great players waiting to play, so let's hope that whoever gets on the field plays a great game and helps the team the same way as Kyle would," midfielder Javier Morales said. "(But) without a doubt, we have lost the leader of the team."

The players and Lagerwey anticipate the opportunity to celebrate a major title in front of their home fans, the chance of a lifetime for all.

"I don't think any of us are intimidated at this point," Lagerwey said. "We're ready to go to battle one more time and win this thing."

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38 Responses to RSL poised to make history

  1. mikeyduece says:

    go ahead and win you motha effers. no one in the mainstream will know what CONCACAF champions league is but the few of us who do know will be grateful for you hard work. Thanks again for helping to lift the league and the country. This is the first step to entry into Libertadores so lets get past this and continue working toward that goal.

  2. zacalie says:

    I love all of the league support that RSL has been getting but in a way I can’t wait for thursday so that we can go back to being rivals with the rest of the league again. It seems like even the hate for RSL lately has to come with the disclaimer, “but good luck in the final”. Love it but hate it at the same time, know what I mean?

  3. Jay J. says:

    Not sure they will get a Libertadores invite anytime soon or if they would even want it. Why go play in a champions league you can’t even win and if you do somehow win you can’t go to club world cup. Lets focus on winning our own champions league more.

  4. KenC says:

    Noone mainstream may know what CCL is, but if RSL gets to the FIFA Club World Cup, and sees the list of clubs in it, and the names of the winners, they may pay a little more attention.

  5. RB says:

    Good to see Lagerway talking sense again, after that ill-advised attempt to compare this to Lake Placid…

  6. Ian says:

    That’s just the nature of the multiple-competitions beast. It turns everyone schizophrenic. My MLS side still hates RSL for pwning my galaxy last month, but my CCL side says, “Bring the pain!”

  7. chris says:

    im afraid if they lose i will cry

  8. P says:

    We are all RSL fans tomorrow.

  9. T Daddy says:

    I believe they are very worthy of this championship. I think their game plan was executed to perfection and was the reason to most they seemed the 2nd best team last match. When they were playing aggressively they were stringing together passes and looking dangerous. They will dominate at home and win comfortably.

  10. Goalscorer24 says:

    Don’t curse them by saying they have not lost at home in 37 games!

  11. georg says:

    Love the support from around the country.

    RSL will win 2-1.

  12. Matt says:

    I’m still shocked that the season ticket holders sold out the stadium. I don’t know if I’m going to sleep tonight, I’ll be in south goal.

  13. Warren says:

    Agreed.

    An MLS team going up against global powers in a real competition – as opposed to summer friendlies – could grab a few seconds on SportsCenter.

    Congrats RSL, now win the thing!

  14. GW says:

    Now you understand the kind of schizophrenia the big European clubs face all the time.

    I guess that means MSL is growing up.

  15. Bufalo says:

    No, forget Libertadores..South America will want to join ours in a few years…Mexico will leave them once USA and Canada become just as good.

  16. NT says:

    impossible

  17. jake says:

    Well, the names of a couple of the teams at least. There are also some unknown teams in it every year from non-Euro/CONMEBOL confederations.

  18. Oog says:

    I’m angry that I can’t be there at the game! I’ve supported from game 1 but school brought me out of the state and alas I haven’t been there during their historic run. Go RSL! Sincerely, a lonely fan in Portland.

  19. Andrew says:

    Sounds like your absence is good luck to RSL.

  20. Shane says:

    If RSL dont win, Bob is going down

  21. Seriously says:

    I know right?!?!? Every time I see that stat it makes me want to puke. Every person who has mentioned it can put the blame solely on themselves if RSL lose tomorrow. Journalists and commentators never can shut up and generally something breaks as soon as they start spouting off.

  22. aalok says:

    “I think we get more respect outside our country than we do inside it”

    Sad, but true.

    “and I think we’ll win over a whole bunch of fans who simply can’t ignore us if we’re able to win and achieve consistent success”

    Also true. RSL ftw tomorrow!

  23. Scott A says:

    There will be Metro/RBNY supporters cheering for RSL at Legends 33 tomorrow in Manhattan.

  24. Jeremy says:

    It’s time for MLS to establish its dominance over Mexico the way the national team has. Or at least take the first step towards that.

  25. Alex says:

    It’s been humbling to read all the coverage and support RSL is getting across the nation. We hope to represent the state, MLS, and US Soccer with pride and success.

    I will be there in the north end, singing and screaming my head off!

  26. Vince Clortho says:

    I woke up to pee 4 times last night…My nervousness is manifesting itself to a higher degree than it has in the past….

    I’m hoping to witness the history in Sec 22….

  27. Mike Caramba says:

    I’m not sure winning the CCL will make people overseas start paying more attention to our league. I could tell you an African team came second last year and Inter won it, but beyond that, I couldn’t name any participant other than Pachuca, since they won the CCL and we share a confed. I’m sure there are people who could named the Oceanic, Asian, and South American participants off the top of their head, so maybe I’m not the best gauge.

    I do think it’s possible it will get MLS a little more regional recognition and, even better, domestic recognition that will lead to some more seats being filled.

    Personally, though, I’d be really proud of RSL, regardless of who it does or doesn’t impress.

  28. Mike Caramba says:

    Note: I don’t think the writer was implying winning the CCL would bring us recognition from overseas…it’s just something I’ve read several times in the last couple weeks.

  29. The Doubleness says:

    wish we were sending a team without such a redic name… Real Salt Lake…reminds me of the silly early years of MLS… RSL is a quality team and deserves the rewards, and I’ve been following them throughout this run. Completely impressive. But the name of this team blows bad… Real? seriously?

  30. Dr. Timmy says:

    Or it’s time for a prostate exam.

  31. Timmy says:

    It’s not that bad. It’s less of a rip off that most believe. There are other “Real” clubs, like Real Sociedad and Real Zaragoza. And given that RSL plays in the American Southwest (kind of), it makes sense to have a Spanish prefix in its name.

    That was a long explanation to justify a title. Maybe you’re right afterall.

  32. Mike Caramba says:

    Timmy – It’s a fair point, but those teams didn’t arbitrarily attach “Real” to their names, as RSL did. It’s kind of the same gripe some had with D.C. “United” at first.

    Personally, I don’t like the name, but their on-field performance has overshadowed the name thing — I rarely think about it. If they keep playing this well, they call call themselves the Sporting Real Salt Lake Burning Clash, for all I care.

  33. Charles says:

    Overseas ? Who cares about overseas.

    They are focused on a Royal Wedding.

  34. USAHammerFan says:

    I will be right there in Section 22 cheering us on…listen for the goal bell baby!!

  35. Mike Caramba says:

    My point exactly!

  36. Musashi says:

    This is all hype, both DC and LA have won the forrunner of this cup. DC also won the Inter America Cup when they beat Vassco de Gamma, to be the best team in both North and South America. So all this making history bull sh@t is just that BS. MLS front office marketing, and hype.

    I hope RLS win, but to ignore DC’s and LA’s acheivements, is dumb it sells short those teams and the leagues past accomplishments.