Real Salt Lake Fall At The Last CONCACAF Champions League Hurdle

Photo by Austin Tuckett

It was a fantastic atmosphere at Rio Tinto Stadium as the 20,000 seater was jammed packed with Real Salt Lake fans getting ready to see their side and the rest of America hoping to see history being made in US Soccer. Not a single seat was empty in the suburbs of Salt Lake City and the Royal Red and Purple were going to put their stamp on this game.

Early on you could see RSL pressing their Mexican opponents as Fabian Espindola tried very hard to get that early goal and the advantage of the aggregate, but would miss the net within the first fifteen minutes of the match. You could see Monterrey on their heels and trying to weather the storm.

As the first half went on Monterrey found their composure and were able to get a late goal just inside first half stoppage time. It was a great attacking run by Sergio Santana and what a fake he pulled on a sliding Nick Rimando. He made a quick back pass to Humberto Suazo and with an open net, Suazo was able to convert the chance and Monterrey took the advantage on the aggregate three goals to two.

That shot sucked the life out of the Rio Tinto Stadium crowd and after the celebration, referee Roberto Moreno blew his whistle for halftime. It looked like this match was going to end scoreless at the half and maybe a big chance to grab that goal in the second half. But when the second half came it looked to be another ten rounds of rock’em sock’em football.

But sadly it looked like that early start from Real Salt Lake tired them out at the start of the second half. Passes weren’t sharp, possession was given away with ease and they allowed Monterrey to counter with no problems. But you saw the second wind coming from RSL and they started to tighten things up a bit. But when they were able to get into the final third it failed.

Monterrey’s plan was solid. Try and get that away goal and bunker all night long. They did that and deserved the championship of CONCACAF as they will advance to the FIFA World Club Cup. Not only was this a heartbreaking loss for Real Salt Lake, but this loss broke their 34 home match unbeaten streak in all competitions. All week long everyone in Salt Lake City, the state of Utah and the entire country had been waiting for this special night and to be honest it’s tough to watch Monterrey take home the trophy, but I have to say this was a hard fought match with plenty of sloppy moments from both sides.

Yet once again it was Monterrey that was able to take advantage and score the winning goal inside first half stoppage time and will represent the confederation in Japan for the World Club Cup. But as this edition comes to a close, a new one will start up as the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas will try to qualify and the Los Angeles Galaxy with the Colorado Rapids will start play in the group stage.

50 thoughts on “Real Salt Lake Fall At The Last CONCACAF Champions League Hurdle”

  1. Daniel,

    Am I wrong, I don’t think that Monterrey had won CCL before.

    I thought Salt Lake would win, but……

    I watched a lot of CCL and Monterrey was the best team in the CCL this year and deserved to win.
    I don’t think they qualified for next years, so we will have a new winner next year.
    Likewise, Salt Lake was very close second best team in the tourney, there will be a new second best team too.

    Exciting times not just for MLS fans for the top teams in Central America, plus many teams deep in Mexico. The CCL is lot more exciting having true MLS competition.

    I for one am VERY glad that new teams will be in next years tourney. A true competition, rather than the Man U-Barca XXXIV Europe is headed for.

    1. You are so ignorant. Do you have any idea of Manchester United’s European Cup history?

      HINT: This is only the 2nd time we’re playing Barca in the final.

      Schalke made it to the semifinals and Tottenham to the quarterfinals. These are new teams.

      I swear I think you would have way better arguments about MLS if you paid attention to the rest of the footballing world more than a smidgen than you currently do.

      1. Lets be realistic. Tottenham’s and Schalke’s success had more to do with AC Milan and Inter playing crappy in those games than those teams playing any better. They are not here to stay. In fact, as it stands, they did not qualify for next year. Next year you will see the same “super clubs” competing because EPL and La Liga are not very competitive leagues. What’s great about what is taking place in CONCACAF is that MLS is becoming more competitive, and they are doing it on their own terms.

        1. Well, the UEFACL often has many different teams from different leagues in the later knockout stages, go check the results and see for yourself.

          Not sure what point you’re trying to prove otherwise, though. Often the top teams make the late stages, BECAUSE THEY ARE THE BEST TEAMS ON THE PITCH. If you want randomized, non-merit based outcomes, Las Vegas is ready when you are!

        2. So in MLS, if historical underdogs get a good result, it’s because the league has such great competetive parity. But if underdogs do well in the European champions league, it’s simply because the established super-clubs messed up.

      2. Do I have any idea of ManUs Euro history ?
        I don’t care.

        I like how you say WE’RE. You live in Manchester ?
        Wow…I guess MLS is gaining across the globe.

        1. Charles, maybe you should brush up on your soccer history. If it weren’t for great clubs exporting the game you wouldn’t be a MLSnob today.

          1. I don’t recall MLS being started up as a venture by the EPL or La Liga or Serie A. MLS is here because of the ’94 World Cup and because businessmen and soccer fans here wanted to make a go of it.

          2. Kevin, MLS is here because FIFA said if you want the World Cup you have to create a soccer league. Nice try on re-writing history. If MLS goes beyond 20 teams say good bye to the World Cup forever.

          3. Isn’t that what he just said? So…..if we go above 20 clubs, then we are not allowed to have the world cup? Yeah, right. I believe that as much as I believe that you are not a troll and a fan of MLS.

          4. FIFA is soccer’s governing body.

            FIFA limits first divisions to 20 teams (even for big huge countries like Brazil).

            FIFA selects host countries for the World Cup.

            FIFA requires host countries to comply with FIFA rules.

            Pretty simple actually. No reason to get personal and attack people as trolls or haters or snobs; just point to evidence that supports your contrary position.

          5. Interesting on how you call me out, but give Robert a pass. I have no respect for someone that posts on a site for a league they hate. It’s ok to call people ignorant, snobs, etc., but not ok to point out that someone is a troll even though they are. They are not here to do anything but run the league and fans down. Maybe if they added more to the discussion other, then I would sing a different tune. Now, every thoughtful post and discussion gets ruined by these trolls. Its not because of opposing views. That I am ok with. It is because of their insistence of running their views down the throats of people that follow the league on a site about MLS, a league they don’t even like nor will they ever like. Thus, they are trolls that don’t add anything to the discussion. Now, if you look back at some of my previous posts, I think that you will see that I try to have good discussions and debates with people on here regardless of their position, as well as point out good things that happen in MLS along with the bad. If you can say the same about the trolls, then find me just one positive and/or productive post. Just one. Until then, they are just trolls ruining a perfectly good blog.

          6. >>>If it weren’t for great clubs exporting the game you wouldn’t be a MLSnob today.

            Wrong. I would still be a MLSnob. what a comment. Stick to dumb comments about how bad MLS is please, it is in your wheelhouse.

          7. DLH,
            you are not saying Robert isn’t a Troll are you ?

            You are just trying to keep it civil. that is fine, I agree with that…
            I always used to be to the MLS Hater Trolls too, but quite frankly, this site would be a lot better with people that have different viewpoints, but actually watch soccer.

          8. @Alan:

            Again, if you have some evidence to support your position, share it with us- it could go a long ways to stregthening your argument.

            And just because someone is critical of MLS doesn’t make them a hater or whatever. I’m pretty critical of MLS and the way they do business- I also go to 8-10 home games a year, sometimes and away game, and have been a season ticket holder in the past. I want soccer to thrive in the U.S. and for our players (and our national team!) to be the best they can be; I just happen to think that MLS doesn’t share those same goals, and conduct business in a way that hampers US player development and the overall competitiveness of the league.

          9. There is nothing civil about shoving your beliefs down someone’s throat. That is what the trolls do. Run down the league, the fans, etc. Different viewpoints are great, but trolling is not cool.

            I have a lot of respect for the fact that you support the league. I’m not sure why you are taking it as an attack on you. It’s not. I can AT LEAST say that you support the league and can probably think of something good to say about it along with the criticisms. This is not true of some of your counterparts on this blog. They hate the league and I have given them numerous times to tell me just one example of something good about the league. They declined every time. I don’t lump someone into that category that is actually a fan. I have had numerous discussions with good people on this blog that I agree and disagree with. Then there are the trolls (look up the definition if you have to)….

            As far as the world cup qualifications go, FIFA takes a look at how it will help soccer in the country, the infrastructure, the transportation, etc. I have not seen one thing that says that a league with over 20 players is a disqualification.

        2. Got cut off short.

          FIFA will make an exception for the US. Stupid to have the same rule for a country with no people, as with one for 300+ million people.

          Too much money not to have it in the US again and too much money for MLS to stop at 20 teams.

          1. Well, they have that rule for big huge countries with big populations, like Russia, Brazil, etc. and it works really well; given how FIFA operates historically, I doubt they’ll change a proven system just for one country.

          2. Well maybe you are right.

            But if you are saying FIFA will quit caring about money…you are wrong in my opinion.

          3. fifa makes exceptions to us being a single entity, and im pretty sure they allow us more than 20 because are league is split between 2 countries, and some leagues far below 20 teams; that argument has no hold in most soccer circles man; holy shit mlssnob, eurosnob, why the hell cant you love both euro games are in the morning, mls at night, i couldnt imagine only having one of the two

        3. If you have no idea, maybe you shouldn’t make comments suggesting that Barca vs Man Utd finals are a regular occurrence. As someone pointed out, it’s only the second time they’ve met in the final. Man Utd have only won the Champions League twice in my lifetime (and I’m thirty). No team has won the modern Champions League back-to-back. Barca, for all their worth as the generally accepted “best team in the world” have only won it three times in their entire history (1992, 2006 and 2009).

          1. I will say this. Champions League is way more competitive than the European domestic leagues. Probably why I enjoy watching it more. Not only that, it is a tournament that anyone the qualifies can win. It makes it more exciting to watch.

          2. i’m w/several of you who are excited that the ccl was so competitive this year. MLS growth as well as changes to the competition caused this excitement. However, I dont really see how it can grow much more. The popularity of copa libertadores worldwide is attributable to the power of Brazil & Argentina. We arent even a fraction of that. There will be limits to CCL’s growth, but revenue needs to be generated nevertheless. I used to think that MLS needed to be in copa lib, and that we should tank CCL or at least minimize it. However, a great CCL that is attractive to viewers outside our region is possible, but other countries will need to step up. Individually, i dont see how other countries beside Mex & US can really contribute with several strong teams. Maybe something crazy will happen, like Canada form their own strong domestic league, or USL tanks and PR teams form a super pan-region league w/Costa rica & Trinidad (probably illegal under fifa rules). I’m just saying I think CCL has maximized competititveness this year, but is it generating enough dough?

    2. Monterrey won the Mexican Apertura back in December so we all well see them back in the next addition of CCL. Unfortunately I can’t see any of the MLS clubs do anything in the next addition of the CCL.

  2. What RSL showed, despite losing, is that an MLS CCL winner is not that far away. I believe LA, SEA, FC Dallas, and Colorado are already in the next CCL (damn shame that NYRB and RSL will have to wait another year to qualify). Hopefully one of those teams makes it a priority, because what we are seeing is this is an important tournament. Good job RSL, maybe this will renew the idea of boosting the salary cap (but that is just wishful thinking).

  3. I didn’t get to see the game yesterday, especially with the Champions League semi-final taking over the media, but I’m sorry to see that RSL lost. But still, getting as far as they have is impressive, and just shows once again how far the MLS has come.

  4. I wonder if MLS teams are going to take US Open Cup more seriously, seeing as it is one of the qualifiers. I’d like to see a team like RSL win it, to qualify for the 2012-13 CCL. It may take awhile, but there are signs that CCL could grow to the point of being a reward. This should make single-table, anti-playoff people happy.

    1. The problem ( and the reason Seattle takes it more seriously ) is that the CCL and US Open Cup doesn’t draw fans much outside of Seattle.

      RSL in the finals, sure.

      While Seattle got 25k for a few more games in CCL. Columbus got 2k for their extra games ( I don’t know their actually attendance, so don’t flame me SSReporters for my generalization on Columbus’ low attendance )

      It almost becomes a DIS-incentive at some point, no ?

  5. I wasn’t able to see the game, but I feel pretty genuinely deflated that RSL didn’t win. They seemed to be a great team, and coming away from Mexico with an advantage got my hopes up.

  6. It’s unfortunate that RSL lost. Though they did not lose badly. They played very well. And I think I detected a change in tactics on the part of Monterrey. It seemed that they were marking Espindola a lot closer this time around. He gave them all sorts of trouble in the 1st leg. In fact, I thought they looked more defensive minded all around this time. That alone is a tip of the hat to RSL. Monerrey took them seriously. Don’t know if that happened much in the past.

  7. To Alan & DLH. I’m enjoying the passionate debate you guys are having and I have to say there are certain things I’m happy to see MLS improving on, but I will admit there are certain things that MLS gets me frustrated.

    Most of it are the rules of acquiring players and all these designations and stuff. Even I will admit that I don’t know when there is a new rule or how these allocations work.

    Still MLS needs to find ways to create business and hopefully they will find a way to be what most people who follow the game wants them to be. My only thing is this, more needs to be done to get there. I still feel that if one bad move speeds up the death clock, it’s going to fall down.

    Now I could be wrong about this, but I really don’t want MLS to take the chance at making these changes too fast. I think right now this league is at a good pace and hopefully when that 20th side is picked, will be the right choice.

    I also believe it’s time to reduce some of these rules on player acquisitions like the original D.P. rule. Discovery Player rule. Holding on to a players rights for a year so if he doesn’t sign you can force a trade with another side. If you can’t erase this rule completely then maybe give a two month window to try and sign the player. If you can’t sign that player after two months or less, that player becomes a free agent.

    But getting back to this article. It was a great ride what RSL did for the country and now it’s time for everyone to fill their stadiums. This competition has now been validated.

    1. Daniel,

      Thanks. Don’t misunderstand me, there are things that I would like to see improved too, and some things downright changed as well. That is fine. I think we are all ready to have those discussions in a productive way. I’m not sure your post on the success that RSL had is the right place to voice those discussions. I’m sure you’d agree with that. RSL did a great job and are showing that the league has improved greatly. Does it have a ways to go? Of course. We are on the right track. I just get tired of hearing the same old crap where someone says good job to RSL and then someone else says we don’t have pro/rel, we will never have a good league, we suck, etc, especially if they are not even fans. You can be constructive and realistic in criticism without being negative about progress. Some people get it. Some don’t. I am definitely guilty of giving into the trolls, but it is hard not to when they insist on ruining every reasonable discussion. I will try to ignore those comments as best as I can from now on and focus on meaningful discussions, whether it be praise or criticism, with true fans of the league. I am not a fan of EPL (I am a Serie A fan though) but I don’t go over to EPL Talk and cry about three teams dominating the league or anything else I don’t like. Why would someone listen to me or want to listen to me since I am not a fan of the league and I am just spewing negativity? They wouldn’t, nor do I think that MLS fans want to hear that, regardless of any criticisms that might or might not have. Now is a time to discuss the great run RSL had and analyze the game last night, which I think they exceeded my expectations in their performance. They did great, and the game was very exciting. Other MLS teams can learn a lot from them in terms of teamwork and style. They embody the style that I think MLS teams need to develop, perfect, and take it a step further. Now I hope San Jose can get their act together and beat them :)

      1. Absolutely Alan. I have to be honest that I have had enough of the trolls as well. They just want to come in and destroy any good that is being written. But I am not misunderstanding you at all. We can discuss the good & the bad of MLS.

        We can have a healthy discussion of it, but I hate those who just want to come in here and bash all the time. I do see what most are talking about, but none of them want to actually take a real hard look and analyze if it will work or not.

        The whole pro/rel discussion is pointless when all people will do is shout it out. Or the old and tired sentence “It works in Europe, it should work here.” No one wants to peel through the layers of US club soccer and see that there are problems. USL Pro mostly has teams that play on High School fields, College Football Stadiums or college soccer stadiums which means they are paying rent.

        Only Charleston, Richmond & Rochester run their own stadiums. If the Charlotte Eagles get promoted to NASL or MLS, a bigger venue is needed to rent if Thierry Henry, Pablo Mastroeni, David Beckham & Landon Donovan is coming more than once a season. If the Eagles get relegated, the rent won’t go down, the price will remain high when they get back into MLS. That’s my fear right now.

      2. The problem is the MLS Hater Trolls DONT WATCH SOCCER.

        They CANT discuss Salt Lake, they DONT WATCH SOCCER.

        They troll. They alledgedly “like” other leagues, but what site are they on. This one.

        I have no problem with people pointing out differences, in fact I love it. But beating to death that MLS will fail because it isn’t running the league they want it is wrong ( not going to happen ) and wrong ( quit wasting bandwidth ).

        1. Charles- To be fair, you are the one who first mentioned the Euro Champions League in this thread. And then later you said you don’t watch it. So you, also, comment on things you don’t watch.

          Many fans of the sport on this continent happily watched both games (or the highlights) that day.

          1. In the last 3 years, since CONCACF adopted this format, both the UEFA and the CONCACAF Champions Leagues have had 3 winners and the same number of unique finalists. Over the last 5 years, UEFA has had one team win it twice (Barcelona) while CONCACAF had a team win it 3 times (Pachuca). CONCACAF had 7 different teams in the final, UEFA had 8. By what measure is CONCACAF less predictable?

            Additional, CONCACAF is dominated by Mexico on the club stage much more than any one country dominates UEFA.

          2. The predictability is only at the club level. The same teams qualify from EPL and La Liga. I agree. Like I said previously, that’s why I like CL is because the competition is more even i.e money isnt as big of a factor in someone winning. They are all high spenders. Also, I agree about liking soccer everywhere. I watch both international and domestic.

          3. I said I didn’t know about Man U Euro history…and I didn’t care.

            I DIDN’T say I don’t watch it. I have seen Man U and Barcelona succeed year after year for the last 5 years or so, and will do again this year.
            Not like I could watch it in the 70s,80s and the 90s.

            And I am on the MLS site, right ?

  8. RSL had one he’ll of a run but they were up against an extremely tough oppnent despite their current league position. The Mexican clubs are just richer deeper and better experienced. RSL can say that things could have different with Beckerman in the game but Monterrey was without one of their leading scorers and several other starters. RSL even had a whole week off to prepare. Stop making excuses! Monterrey had jus played their 8th match this month. They have played non-stop and they still has enough give the MLS’ best defense fits. I honestly can’t see any of the qualified MLS do much in the 2011/2012 CCL edition. NYRB and RSL would have been my best bet but didn’t qualify. I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

    1. Manuel, you do realize that LA is ahead of Salt Lake in the standing.

      Why couldn’t they do as well as Salt Lake ?

      ps. I didn’t see any excused made. Monterrey is very good team ( like I said I thought they were the best ) and Salt Lake came within inches of tying the game and thus beating them.

      1. Charles,

        While I think LA has the potential, they are only ahead in the standings because of the number of games that they played in comparison to RSL. It remains to be seen as to whether they can do it. However, if I truly believe that a team can improve over the course of a season. This time last year, RSL weren’t doing as good as they are doing now. In fact, LA was definitely doing better. The same thing happens in Europe too. AC Milan started off their season in Serie A with some pretty bad defeats, but now they are winning the league. A lot can happen in a year and in a season. LA, Seattle, Dallas, or Colorado could end up shining in a big way. Those teams have to really want it, and I think that RSL set a good standard as to what those teams should strive for.

      2. You do realize the Galaxy has played twice as many games as RSL. Also I don’t think Arenas takes the competition very seriously just like they didn’t take the PR Islanders seriously during last year’s qualifying round.

        1. I agree, but I hope that changes. Hopefully they do take it seriously this time. I think if they really focused on it and made it a priority, they could potentially do awesome. It won’t be easy of course, but they have a couple of months to focus on it.

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