In Group 2 action in CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday, Herediano managed a 2-1 defeat of Panamanian side Tauro FC, leaving the Costa Ricans on 9 points from three matches. With Herediano visiting Salt Lake City in October, RSL is left needing a win from the final match of the group stage — either with a 1-0 scoreline or by two goals.
The Champions League regulations shifted significantly when the format moved to a three-team group stage, so a refresher on the rules is certainly helpful. There are, after all, quite a few of them regarding tiebreakers — and it doesn't start with goal difference.
- Greater number of points earned in matches between the teams concerned: If Real Salt Lake manages a win against Herediano, both teams will have gained three points from the two matches between them.
- Greater goal difference in matches between the teams concerned: The goal difference between the two teams currently sits at -1. A win by two or more goals sees RSL win. If it is a win by one goal, we move forward to the next tiebreaker.
- Greater number of goals scored away from home in matches between the teams concerned: As Real Salt Lake did not score a goal in Costa Rica, any goal by Herediano - supposing this criterion is reached - will drop Real Salt Lake out. Supposing RSL wins 1-0, we move on to the next criterion.
- Reapply first three criteria if two or more teams are still tied: With Tauro sitting on zero points, there's no way they'll catch, well, anybody. Especially as they don't play another match.
- Greater goal difference in all group matches: Herediano sits on a +3 goal differential, while Real Salt Lake sits on a +2 goal differential. A 1-0 win (the only way to reach this criterion, given the circumstances) sees Herediano drop to +2 and RSL up to +3. For good measure, let's look at the three remaining criterion to break the tie.
- Greater number of goals scored in group matches.
- Greater number of goals scored away in all group matches.
- Drawing of lots. This is my favorite - I'm glad we won't reach this one. Had Herediano beat Tauro with a 2-0 scoreline, we'd have actually reached it. A slightly terrifying prospect, isn't it? We should be happy that we at least control our own fate to any extent.
So, yes: 1-0 or by two goals, or we're out. If there was ever a time for "do-or-die," Oct. 23 is it. Real Salt Lake will be without the services twice-carded Alvaro Saborio, but all other members of the squad should be eligible, barring any sort of injury.