All Real Salt Lake fans should be familiar with the CONCACAF Champions League. In 2009 RSL started an incredible run that ended with RSL playing for the CCL championship, something no other MLS team has, to date, has accomplished. On April 20, 2011 RSL battled Monterrey to a 2-2 draw in Mexico. Excitement was at an all-time high for RSL. With the second leg being at Rio Tinto Stadium, a 0-0 or 1-1 draw or a win, and RSL would be playing in the Club World Cup! But Monterrey crushed the hearts of RSL fans as they came to Utah and stole a 1-0 victory. Don't get me wrong, 2nd place is no small feat, but RSL and its fans have been looking for a chance at redemption. This summer, we have that chance.
Yesterday, we learned that RSL will be playing in Group 2, along with Tauro FC of Panama, and Herediano of Costa Rica. Now that we know what teams RSL will be facing in the CCL, I figured it was time to know more about them. So here we go, a few facts about each team and some of the players to watch out for.
Tauro FC was founded in 1984 in Panama City, Panama. According to their website http://www.taurofc.com they have won 11Panamanian league titles. The club plays in Estadio Rommel Fernandez which has a capacity of 32,000. The black and white home kits were chosen by the founder Giancarlo Gronchi to match his favorite European team, Juventus. For away matches, light blue tops with white shorts are used.
This will be the 4th time that the Panamanian club competes in the CCL. Last year Tauro had a difficult run of play, losing 3 matches, 2 draws, and only winning once, defeating FC Dallas 5-3 before being eliminated from the group round.
Players to watch:
Luis Renteria (F) scored 14 goals for his side this season, 11 more than the next highest. Renteria is only 23, yet has had his fair share of national team appearances for Panama. Although currently on loan at Real Cartagena, I expect that he'll be back with the team for CCL. RSL defenders will have their hands full with this guy.
Jean McLean (MF), Leonel Parrish (D)
Herediano highlighted after the jump:
Club Sport Herediano is one of the oldest clubs in Costa Rica. Founded in 1921, Herediano has collected 21 league titles! According to their website, http://www.herediano.com only 2 teams have had more success. One of those teams is Saprissa, a team which RSL is familiar with. Herediano plays in Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero, which has a capacity of 15,000. The club's current kit is black shorts with a red sash on a yellow top for home, and red and yellow stripes on white for away matches.
Herediano returns for its 3rd straight appearance in the CCL. Fans had high hopes for the team as the defeated Alpha United 8-0 and again 10-2 in the Preliminary Round before being eliminated from group play thanks to the champions Monterrey and MLS side Seattle Sounders FC.
Players to watch:
Jorge Barbosa (F) was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. During the 2011-2012 CCL he found the back of the net 6 times! Only Humberto Suazo of Monterrey and Oribe Peralta of Santos Laguna were able to tally more goals.
Francisco Calvo (D), Carlos Hernandez (MF)
I don't know about you, but I am very excited and anxiously awaiting these matches. Hopefully we can build upon our earlier success, and claim the CONCACAF Champions League Trophy.
Follow me on Twitter @Captain_Real