Reaction: RSL Falls Just Short Of Club World Cup

Fabian Espindola rues one of Salt Lake's missed opportunities...

RSL coughs up their unbeaten streak and fails to claim victory in the CONCACAF Champion’s League. A pretty goal by Chilean Humberto Suazo on a dink and dump play at the end of the 1st half the lone tally in the game and all visiting Monterrey needed to insure victory.

Jamison Olave and Will Johnson played strong for the home side, but the Rio Tinto-nators could not break down the Monterrey defense as Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio were stymied time and time again.

Now it’s up to Jason Kreis to reach into his coaching bag of tricks and build motivation anew for the MLS campaign ahead.


Anatomy of a goal: 1:02 mark

The USMNT has seen it a number of times over the past two years. Failure to account for a player making an off-ball run. Here RSL, who had played steely defense all half long, falls asleep but for a brief second and it’s curtains.

Andy Williams is slow getting back to help on the play and Robbie Russell and Jamison Olave are forced to play two on three against the Monterrey winger, Sergio Santana and Humberto Suazo. Olave steps up for a second (1:03) and Russell believes Olave’s going to take the attacker with the ball as Santana dumps it off to Suazo and commences his near post run. You can see the backline’s shape is off as Borchers and Wingert have already dropped providing a little cushion to Santana’s run.

Russell fails to recover as Olave drifts to Suazo (now with the ball) and Santana is played in by the Chilean. The rest is history. While Russell likely should have stepped up there on Santana forcing the more difficult play of letting the winger round-the-corner and cut it back, it was an exquisite give-and-go play with impeccable timing.

12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jake C on 2011/04/28 at 5:12 AM

    How about that for a tidy finish. Hate to say it, but RSL deserved to lose that one. Saborio, among others, was abysmal. Looked to me like they were missing Beckerman pretty bad.


  2. Posted by Crow on 2011/04/28 at 6:04 AM

    Wow, what a time for RSL to decide to play “poorly” in a home game. A huge disappointment. It is extremely difficult to swallow that Suazo scored the winning goal after all of his histronics last night. At least he picked up a card.

    Maybe I’m being more negative than I should be, but it seems that every time “American soccer” has a chance to “move forward” (whether it be an MLS team or the National Team), it does not take advantage of the opportunity.


  3. Posted by jb on 2011/04/28 at 6:19 AM

    I voted ‘other’ because the other options didnt seem to fit. Most of us are in ‘disappointment’ mode because it seemed the planets had aligned (RSL easy draw, great performance in Mexico, homefield crowd and winning streak, etc) for RSL to win it. But stepping back, RSL is the first team to really have a chance to legitimately say they are the best in CONCACAF, so to me its another small step forward.

    I think Beckerman’s absence was huge. RSL looked nervous and frenetic. I think his possession would have calmed them down. Still they had their chances. Anyone think Suazo would have missed either one of Espindola’s open shots?


    • Posted by Jake C. on 2011/04/28 at 7:08 AM

      Probably not, but I think Espindola wasn’t the greatest of RSL’s problems up top. Correct about the midfield; Morales was having to come way deep to get the ball,and Grabavoy wasn’t nearly quick/aware enough to spot runs and distribute. Plus he didn’t really defend either.

      Agree with your vote, though I put in “a step forward.” RSL are still a class team, but maybe not as deep at certain positions as they/we would have hoped.


  4. Posted by John on 2011/04/28 at 7:49 AM

    I’m not here to bury Real Salt Lake, because I am sure that this will be done by many other people. They made it further than any other MLS team and fell asleep at the very end of the half to give up a goal. Anyone who has watched soccer long enough has seen this happen to their own team.

    I am here to actually praise the loss.

    Things are tricky in the American entertainment arena when we look at soccer compared to other sports. We get so used to the constant disparagement, to the overall malaise of the media, to the general actions of those in charge of our Sports Stations (I am looking at you “sports”center) that we tend to place ideas that certain games are a “referendum” on the sports viability.

    However, even though I watched an entertaining and scrappy game last night… The game was only part of the scene. I was able to watch thousands of fans of an MLS team sell out a stadium for a non-league, non-glamor opponent. I watched drum corps dance back and forth shirtless in the 40 degree weather stirring up chants and yelling at the field. I watched people throwing streamers with venomous intent (even though I disagree with this, it DOES show passion). Importantly I watched groups of fans who appeared of Hispanic/Latin/Mexican descent cheering on Real Salt Lake as their team, with what appeared their Fathers, Uncles, Mothers cheering on their side Monterey. This is progress people, the kids chose Salt Lake because it was there, because they are good, because they CAN compete.

    Sure there are problems with the league, and maybe the standard isn’t at the premiership level, however this doesn’t mean that last night was a failure.

    On the contrary, the night was a rousing success. It was a tight affair the whole night and people didn’t leave, they sang, they danced and they attempted to spur their team on. This is what is important to take from the game.

    Sure a victory would be nice, and someday it will come… but we all know that Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United don’t take the Club World Cup that seriously.

    Salt Lake didn’t seize the opportunity, but there were more fans formed last night. You can come together in a loss that is almost impractical in a win. Support needs to be NO MATTER WHAT. You drum, sing and dance despite being down 1 – 0.

    There was a time where Real Salt Lake would not have drawn that crowd, and there was a time in soccer in the United States where having organized supporter groups seemed so very distant. Those times are very dead now, and kudos to Real Salt Lake for taking their chances, building a good program and connecting with the fans enough for them to show up.


    • Posted by aalok on 2011/04/28 at 10:18 AM

      “Importantly I watched groups of fans who appeared of Hispanic/Latin/Mexican descent cheering on Real Salt Lake as their team, with what appeared their Fathers, Uncles, Mothers cheering on their side Monterey. This is progress people, the kids chose Salt Lake because it was there, because they are good, because they CAN compete.”

      I noticed this as well during the game, and think it’s a great sign of progress for our league.


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/04/28 at 10:24 AM

      This is a good post. I agree with everything especially the comments on the fan support and the future of the team.


    • I voted failure – but reading John’s comment set me straight. In the overall context of things, RSL making it to this stage of the tournament is a huge step forward for American soccer – they can legitimately claim to be the second-best club team in all of North/Central America (first-best would be better, but still impressive). I happened to be in Seattle over the summer and caught a Sounders v Monterrey earlier stages Champions League match, and the stadium couldn’t have been more than half full. The RSL fanbase really stepped it up last night, so kudos to them – another positive out of all of this.

      So, overall, a victory despite the loss for American soccer – but I also can’t help but agree with Crow’s statement above:

      “it seems that every time “American soccer” has a chance to “move forward” (whether it be an MLS team or the National Team), it does not take advantage of the opportunity.”

      I know that someday I’ll see American soccer take advantage of these sorts of opportunities…but really wish it would come sooner rather than later. We’ll see…


    • Posted by Ben on 2011/04/28 at 1:11 PM

      Did people truly find this match entertaining? I only watched the first half and found it to be excruciating watching pass after pass go nowhere in particular.

      In its own way, I found this as hard to watch as FCB v. Madrid match earlier. If I wasn’t a fan of Barca, I probably would have stopped watching that one at half time as well.


      • Posted by John on 2011/04/28 at 1:23 PM

        I actually found it more enjoyable than the FCB v Madrid match, partially because I really had absolutely no reason to root for either team in the “Clasico” whereas with the Concacaf match I would like to have seen an MLS team advance.


  5. Posted by Alex on 2011/04/28 at 1:03 PM

    I hope we take this opportunity to boost our own continental championship both in MLS eyes and Mexican eyes. Looks like it has. I wish Mexican teams were not in Copa Libertadores, but I know Mexican TV is a cash cow, so I doubt we’ll ever see that happening. I just hope CONCACAF puts more $$$ on the line to make it even more attractive for teams to prioritize CCL.

    That said, I think we can use CCL in a good way to reform MLS.

    Rather than award the Supporter’s Shield and the Cup runner-up as qualification places, I’d love to see the allocation slots go like this:

    1. MLS CUP
    4. US OPEN CUP

    This fixes a bunch of problems. First, the whole cup/conference/single-table issue. Having both a Supporters’ Shield (a whack remnant to placate EPL-Single Table Weirdos), we can make conferences actually matter, which will help later on when completely balanced schedules might be impossible, and also increase the importance of intra-conference rivalries, which are AWESOME coming from someone who commutes regular from NYC-DC and love seeing the game at both stadiums. US fans love conferences (as far as I can tell) and understand them, so let’s go in that direction, too.

    Second, this system will truly reward the teams who have the depth to compete in the regular season through their conference standing. Teams with the depth to finish top of their conference will then have the depth to be able to play in 2 cups (MLS, US Open), regular league play, and in CCL. It prevents streaking teams (I see you there, Colorado) from taking the spot of genuine CCL contenders like RSL (I know I am stoking a huge rivalry here, but truth hurts).

    Third, it preserves the importance of the Open Cup. The dominant teams will rise to the top in the top 3 qualifying places, but the Open Cup can be prioritized for teams who feel they might not win in MLS, but want the exposure they (hopefully in the future with high-profile coverage) will get in the CCL. The US Open cup MUST be preserved – it’s a link to our soccer heritage and should be more high-profile. If a second-division club wins it, that’s even cooler.

    Of course this is all academic. CCL needs to have better cash prizes for the KO stages, and there needs to be better coverage than streaming for the competition for it to make a difference to the teams (looking at you, Bruce Arena). But I think if CCL makes it big time it could help settle a lot of issues internally in the MLS on how to make conferences matter and how to shut up the single-table, pro-rel crowd. Okay, I know they will never shut up, but you have to try.


    • Posted by Alex on 2011/04/28 at 1:34 PM

      I should say…

      “Instead of having both a Supporters’ Shield (a whack remnant to placate EPL-Single Table Weirdos), we can make conferences actually matter,…”


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