By: Jae Groll
Real Salt Lake‘s historic run through CONCACAF Champions League play came to an abrupt halt Wednesday night in Sandy Utah. A first half stoppage time goal by Humberto Suazo was just enough to let Mexican side CF Monterrey hoist the trophy.
In a game which RSL dominated in every major statistic it just wasn’t enough to make up for one momentary lapse in concentration for the MLS side. Monterrey’s 1-0 (3-2 agg.) win can only be described as heart wrenching for the sellout crowd of 20,378 and the entire RSL organization.
The home team came out of the gates with a vengeance. Knowing that scoring the opener would likely see them as champions. They controlled the ball and created some good chances throughout the first 30 minutes. Fabian Espindola looking especially dangerous up top.
At the 30′ min mark almost as if on cue, Monterrey upped the tempo as visiting teams rarely accomplish at Rio Tinto. Monterrey took control and closed out the half with a beautiful move. Piercing RSL’s midfield and excecuting a pristine 1-2 once they penetrated the 18 yard box. The play ultimately ending with Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando diving at the feet of Sergio Santana just a moment too late as Santana tapped the ball to Suazo for the easy finish.
After the game RSL coach Jason Kreis said that it was just the type of move that he knew Monterrey would be dangerous on. “It was probably the exact thing that we talked to the guys that we did not want to allow.” Kreis continued “…in between our right back and center back…you take one play off and you get punished for it.”
RSL did not go quietly into the night they dominated the second half creating multiple chances but could not find the finishing touch.
The final 25 minutes were truly a white knuckle affair as RSL sent wave after wave of men forward and created many opportunities that on another night would surely have found the back of the net.
Newly crowned champions Monterrey now look forward to competing in the FIFA Club World Cup December in Japan.
RSL now must dust themselves off and find a way to not let emotions get in the way of a promising MLS campaign. They have an unblemished record so far in MLS play and continue their MLS schedule Saturday away to the Portland Timbers.
Player of the Match: Humberto Suazo showed his world class abilities every time he touched the ball. Although the service to him was spotty he was dangerous whenever his teammates could find him. Decisive runs, pinpoint passes and tricky footwork were the hallmark of his performance. His goal at the end of the first half was the product of beautiful interplay and well deserved.
“The Special One”? (of the Western Hemisphere): Monterrey head coach Victor Manuel Vucetich extended his perfect record in the finals of all competitions he has coached. A record that has to be admired.