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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”.
Simon Evans here in Miami with an update on the most interesting stories out there on the web today:
Here in the States – Real Salt Lake turned in a very impressive display last night in the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final, beating MLS rivals Columbus Crew 4-1. RSL are usually attractive to watch and you can catch some free goal highlights here. RSL become the first team from MLS to reach the last four in the CCL and they will play the winner of Thursday’s game between Costa Rica’s Saprissa and Olimpia of Honduras.