MIAM - Major League Soccer's Real Salt
Lake can become the first North American team to play in the
Club World Cup if they can overcome Mexican champions Monterrey
in the CONCACAF Champions League Final.
The team from Utah, who play the first leg of the final on
Wednesday, were founded seven years ago and won the title in
2009 and have impressed with crisp passing and high possession
style of play.
No MLS team has made the final of the regional competition
for North America, Central America and the Caribbean since the
tournament switched from a straight knockout format in 2008,
however D.C. United and the L.A. Galaxy both won the old
Back when those triumphs came, however, there was no place
for the region's clubs in the FIFA Club World Cup.
It is a different story for Mexican clubs as four of the
last five CONCACAF finals have been all-Mexican affairs and the
three most successful clubs in the competition are Mexican.
Added to that, MLS teams have an awful record on Mexican
soil, where Wednesday's opener takes place. In 24 appearances
in official competition, the North American league's
represenatives have lost 21 times.
But Real, coached by the highly-rated 38-year-old Nebraskan
Jason Kreis, showed in an impressive semi-final two-legged win
over Costa Rica's Saprissa that they can handle the pressure of
trips south of the border.
"I don't think we are afraid to come in here. We were the
underdogs before and we know what it is like to come into an
environment and not expect to win or pull a result," said Salt
Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
"There is nothing that says we can't go in in there and get
a result. We don't have to win but getting a result would be
good for us."
The aim for Salt Lake will be to cope with the attacking
threat of a Monterrey side that includes Chilean World Cup
forward Humberto Suazo and return to Utah next week with a
scoreline that gives them a chance.
Kreis's approach to the game has been a breath of fresh air
in a league where many teams are too generous with possession
and rely instead on hard running and moments of inspiration
from their forwards.
The Barcelona-inspired tactics Kreis has imposed on Real,
which includes a number of Central and South American players
such as Costa Rican forward Alvaro Saborio and Argentine
playmaker Javier Morales, give his team a chance of keeping
Monterrey at bay.
"Some of the best defense you can have is to be good on the
ball. I think it's going to be critically important when we
have the ball we need to recognize we need to keep it for long
stretches," said Kreis.
"We need to be very mindful of not giving it away cheaply
because when you play an opponent as talented as Monterrey they
will punish you for that."
Berlin will stage Champions League final for the first time in 2015
Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze ruled out of Champions League final against Bayern Munich
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini will leave the La Liga club at the end of the current season
Stoke City and manager Tony Pulis part company by mutual agreement after seven years
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010