On Wednesday night, a historical 90 minutes will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium when a member of Major League Soccer will once again tackle a tough and worthy opponent that plays their club soccer in Mexico. The second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Final will determine who has earned the right to travel to Japan and perform against other Champions League winners in the FIFA Club World Cup.
Now it’s simple for an outsider or those who don’t care about what happens within this confederation because it’s not the Copa Libertadores of South American or the Champions League of Europe. I never said it was on par with both of those two historic international club tournaments, but for those of us that support this American first division, we have been waiting for this moment.
This is the opportunity that must be taken seriously and will be lead by head coach Jason Kreis. The rivalry between Mexico and the USA that we have seen many times in friendly games, Gold Cup Finals and World Cup Qualifying will continue Wednesday night. But now a chance to defeat Monterrey and hoisting the title at home would be the biggest celebration in US soccer history.
If the first part is achieved then the next part will come towards the end of this calendar year. How many times have most of you heard from those who support the clubs and national teams of Europe that a MLS side will never be as good as these clubs and the only time you will face them is when they are on these pre-season tours? What happens if Real Salt Lake gets that chance to face the European Cup winner in the final? Well first off they must defeat the African representative and then the Copa Libertadores champion. After all that then the bright golden glow will be shining in front of them to face Manchester United, Schalke, Barcelona or Real Madrid.
But before all of this can be achieved, Real Salt Lake must take care of step number one and that is defeating Monterrey on aggregate. This isn’t about winning the match anymore. It’s about winning that aggregate to win the championship. All the pressure is on RSL to make this happen as they will be without Kyle Beckerman due to yellow card accumulation. They will be carrying many flags on the field of Rio Tinto Stadium.
The first two flags will be of their club and the State of Utah because this moment is for them. The third flag will be for our first division league in Major League Soccer because this tournament is a high priority to show the world that this league has improved and to rip the blinders of the critics off their eyes. The fourth flag will be for US Soccer as they will earn some more respect in the world’s game and show our neighbors below that our clubs are catching up to the Mexican Primera Division. The final flag will be our nation’s flag as RSL will be representing us, American Soccer fans young and old.
Now I understand that there will be some fans who are big time rivals of RSL that will be hoping this doesn’t happen and I understand why. It’s not fun getting heckled when your major rival wins something that you want to get, but just this once I ask of you to put aside your hate and think about the league and the progress that RSL has helped to make this possible.
Real Salt Lake will be playing a historical final ninety minutes of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League. This is the biggest moment in MLS and US Soccer history as something special will happen. But the slogan is very true and I am proud to say that I am for RSL.