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There is a rare air of jubilation around Major League Soccer after Real Salt Lake managed to come away from the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League final away to Mexican champions Monterrey with a 2-2 draw but it is tempered by the loss of their best player for the return game.
MLS commissioner Don Garber took to twitter to post ‘Congrats RSL! Well done’ and many fans of other MLS teams have been quick to applaud the result. In many ways, this year’s run to the final by RSL has been taken by the league and its supporters as a validation of their status in the game.
Tired of being labeled a ‘Mickey Mouse’ league by foreigners and dismissed as irrelevant by old-school mainstream sports media and equally annoyed at the tendency of some American fans of European soccer to laugh off MLS as a pale imitation of the ‘real thing’, MLS fans have delighted in Real’s achievement. This is the first time a team from the league has reached the final of the Mexican-dominated competition since it changed to a league format in 2008. In the days when the tournament for North and Central America and the Caribbean was a knockout affair – only twice did an MLS team make the final. Added to the odds stacked against RSL on Wednesday was the knowledge that no team from the North American league has ever won on Mexican soil in a competitive game.
As this emotional account of the game concludes, Javier Morales superbly taken 89th minute equaliser was much more than an equaliser “It was, most of all, the moment so many fans of Major League Soccer have waited for: a concrete result providing a firm reason to believe”.
Jose Mourinho and winning appear to go hand in hand after the colourful Portuguese coach delivered at the first time of asking in Wednesday’s King’s Cup final.
All the more significant was beating Barcelona for the first time as Real coach, which sets up a fascinating double header in the Champions League semi-finals on April 27 and May 3.
from Photographers' Blog:
In the second half of the 2010-2011 Turkish football season Galatasaray moved to its new home ground in Istanbul, the Turk Telekom Arena, a 52,000-seat multi-purpose stadium replacing the Ali Sami Yen Stadium.
The fate of the legendary Ali Sami Yen Stadium is now sealed.
The demolition of Ali Sami Yen, one of the most iconic venues in Turkish football and the home to one of the three oldest Istanbul football clubs Galatsaray for 47 years, started last week. For almost half a century, the yellow-and-red lions hosted their rivals in this temple with the slogan "welcome to hell". The stadium played host to victories against European giants FC Barcelona, A.Bilbao, AC Milan, Real Madrid, E.Frankfurt, and a historic victory against Neuchatel Xamax. Most notably it was the scene of Galatasaray’s triumphal UEFA Cup campaign in 2000.
Aren’t Manchester United supposed to be peaking at this time of the season? That’s what all the Red Devils supporters will be asking themselves and their friends on Wednesday after the 0-0 draw at Newcastle United.
Penalty or no penalty at the end when Javier Hernandez went down in the area? And more importantly, will United go on and win the title? Wednesday’s Premier League games involving Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at home to Birmingham City will be decisive.
Short and sweet today with little news on Monday and plenty of action to look forward to this week.
Manchester United will look to stretch their Premier League lead against Newcastle United on Tuesday, though will their Wembley antics distract them? ‘A hole lot of trouble for United’ read one headline.
In our latest Monday post on Spanish soccer, Mark Elkington in Madrid reviews the first of four games in three competitions in 18 days between arch rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid and takes a look at surprise La Liga package Levante.
One down, three to go
Real Madrid and Barcelona achieved their primary aims in Saturday´s 1-1 “Clasico” draw, the first of four titanic clashes between the arch rivals in 18 days.
Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 1. Pictures of the teams suggest they were both pleased with the result but you would imagine Barcelona came away the happier side. Though Real were down to ten men for almost the entire second half so must be relieved not to have lost.
Who gained the upper hand then from the first of four clasicos between last Saturday and May 3? Wednesday will be an interesting affair in the King’s Cup final, a one off match as opposed to the two-legged Champions League semi-final.
Barcelona destroyed their fierce domestic rivals 5-0 in November, and although the gap at the top of La Liga remains difficult for Real to peg back, they looked a very difficult team to beat against Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League quarter-finals.
So there were no incredible comebacks after all. Sorry Tottenham and hapless Heurelho Gomes, but the neutrals have got their Real Madrid v Barcelona semi-final and expect the hype to be greater than almost any two games ever played.
In the other semi-final Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson will be able to take a close look at Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who was largely untroubled by departing holders Inter Milan last night.
So this week’s Champions League quarter-final action is over and the semi-finals are set up. As expected Real Madrid strolled through their second-leg against Spurs and will now face Barcelona. The Spanish giants are set to clash four times in 18 days, including Saturday’s La Liga match at the Bernabeu and the King’s Cup final on April 20 in Valencia.
After their astonishing win at the San Siro, Schalke 04 finished off the job against Inter to set up a meeting with Manchester United.