Real Salt Lake, the 2009 MLS champion, made history on Tuesday, April 5, when it became the first MLS team to reach the CONCACAF Champions Cup final. The Americans defeated Costa Rica’s champion Deportivo Saprissa, 3-2, on aggregate in the semifinal series of this regional club championship.
Real Salt Lake defeated Saprissa, 2-0, at home in the first leg of the series, but lost the second leg in San Jose, Costa Rica, 2-1. The Americans will face Mexican powerhouse Monterrey in the final and have the opportunity to represent CONCACAF at the FIFA World Club Championship next year. The first game of the final series kicks off at Monterrey on Wednesday, April 20, with the final leg at Rio Tonto Stadium in Salt Lake, Utah on Wednesday, April 27.
“We did accomplish something, there’s no doubt about it, but I think all of us feel that the real history is to be made in the next round,” Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis said. “We got to the dance and now we’ll see what we can do.”
In front a near-capacity of over 21,000 at Saprissa Stadium and behind 2-0 on aggregate, the home team took the lead at the start of the second half when Luis Diego Cordero’s unexpected long range shot beat Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando. The guests did not lie down and in the 61st minute, the visitors equalized through Jamison Olave’s first-time shot when Saprissa failed to clear the ball after a few attempts from a corner kick. Saprissa scored again in the 78th minute from a penalty kick by Alonso Solix, but that was all the scoring for the day and it was enough to send Real Salt Lake through to the final.
“I’m really, really pleased obviously with this historical moment, but I would have liked to have advanced in a little bit more impressive fashion,” Kreis said.
Red Bulls Lose
The New York Red Bulls, last Saturday, were reminded of the soccer adage that the team which commits the least mistakes usually wins. Unfortunately, the Red Bulls were guilty of the converse of this adage and one too many mistakes gave the Philadelphia Union a 1-0 victory over New York at PPL Park in Chester (PA) in front a crowd of just over 19,000.
In the Red Bulls (1-1-2, 5 pts.) first loss of the young season, defender Tim Ream played the ball across the Red Bulls goal, deep in his defensive third of the field, but second-year standout Danny Mwanga read the move and intercepted the pass and fed teammate Roger Torres, who dribbled in on goal and beat Bouna Condoul to his right for the only goal of the game in the 68th minute of play.
New York was not without its chances to score well before Torres’ tally. Newly acquired Dwayne De Rosario, who added spark to the New Yorkers squad on his debut at Red Bull Arena a week earlier in a 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo, fed a pass to teenage striker Juan Agudelo early in the first half, but the forward’s shot struck the goalpost; Agudelo was in on goal again in the 31st minute of play and struck the post again. New York Red Bulls will host San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday in a 7:30 p.m. kick-off.
In other MLS games last week, on Thursday hosts FC Dallas avenged its MLS Cup loss to the Colorado Rapids with a 3-0 defeat of the defending champion at Pizza Hut Park.
Seattle Sounders got its first win of the season with a 2-1 defeat of Chicago Fire; DC United rallied from a 1-0 deficit to tie Los Angeles, 1-1; Real Salt Lake topped New England Revolution, 2-0; San Jose and Toronto played to a 1-1 draw; Chivas USA and Columbus Crew played to a goalless draw; and the Houston Dynamo got its first win of the season, a 3-1 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps.
Mexico Wins U-20
Mexico won its 11th CONCACAF Under-20 Championship by defeating defending champion Costa Rica, 3-1, in the final in Guatemala City last Sunday. Two goals by Ulises Davila – one in each half, the 19th and 52nd minutes – helped Mexico to rally from a 1-0 deficit to win its first under-20 title since 1992; the Mexican youngsters played undefeated through five matches in the tournament, which qualified the top four teams for the FIFA World Under-20 Championship in Colombia this summer. Carlos Orrantia scored the other goal for Mexico in the 39th minute.
Mexico defeated Panama to reach the final, and Costa Rica toppled Guatemala, which had earlier defeated the USA in the quarterfinal stage. Guatemala beat Panama on penalty kicks to win the third place. All four teams will play in the FIFA world tournament in Colombia.
Trinidad Hires Pfister
German Otto Pfister is the new coach of the Trinidad and Tobago senior men’s national team. The new coach vowed to put his best team on display for every game that Trinidad and Tobago plays and has requested international games on the next FIFA dates in June and August. Pfister’s first move was to visit England to sought new players and visit with others already on the team; he is putting together a group of 50 players for training, which starts April 18.