OK, it was a great night for RSL as they took first place in Group A in CCL play by beating Cruz Azul 3-1 at "El Castillo", first up is the video of the post match press conference with RSL head coach Jason Kreis (and yes he appears to be smiling):
after the jump comments from the RSL locker room and some match facts:
REAL SALT LAKE HEAD COACH JASON KREIS
On the game:
"I'm thrilled [with the outcome], absolutely thrilled. A lot of the first half we were a little tentative again. I thought there were more opportunities for us to play, possess the ball, and we weren't doing quite a good enough job of doing that. As we know they're an extremely talented team and I felt like we kept giving them the ball back and we'd be under pressure. The second half of the game obviously opened up and I think a lot of that has to do with the scoreline, them being down 1-0 they wanted to just really throw things at us; now there was more space and time for our guys to operate."
On the atmosphere:
"We struggled a little bit in the first part of the match and were really under a lot of pressure. I think a lot of that does come down to the crowd. It can be a very frustrating situation to be in our own stadium and feel like we're playing away, but hopefully, throughout the 90 minutes, there were a lot of people wearing blue shirts I hope are going home with red ones now."
On the team:
"I just can't say enough on the contributions of the players that are coming in. For the last six weeks all of them that have been called upon in some extremely important games - this one and the home game against Colorado - all of them have stepped up, big time."
On Kyle Reynish:
"He's another young player that doesn't have the experience that a lot of other players do, and every game that he's been called upon this year he's been just superb. And tonight he was a big, big important player for us. He made a couple of really important saves for us, especially in the second half."
REAL SALT LAKE DEFENDER WILL JOHNSON
Thoughts on his debut as a defender for RSL:
"It almost started as a joke between [Head Coach Jason Kreis] and I. I asked, ‘Are we short any positions?' and he said, ‘Maybe outside back.' I said, ‘I think I can do that.' Luckily Jason had some faith in me and put me out there and we were able to win the game."
Overall thoughts on winning the game and the group stage:
"I think winning the group was huge. I think winning the group the way that we did, with our second team, if you will, against their first team, in our stadium against a pretty hostile crowd - II think it says a lot about the guys on this team and it was a lot of fun to be a part of it. [Winning the group] is a huge accomplishment; I don't think [an MLS team] has ever done it before. So add that to the list of firsts."
Thoughts on going toe-to-toe with Cruz Azul:
"They are a very, very good team, a fantastic team. We feel like we can go toe-to-toe with anyone, especially in this stadium. It's a lot of fun to play games here and I am sure it's a lot of fun to watch games here because people keep showing up."
Here are some of the match facts as provided by the crack staff out at RSL:
- With tonight's result, Real Salt Lake becomes the first of the nine Major League Soccer sides that have qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League group stage to finish atop its group, dating back to the start of the revamped tournament format in 2008/09.
- For the second straight match, Real Salt Lake set a Rio Tinto Stadium attendance record, tonight's boisterous - and partisan - audience of 20,463 surpassing the 20,236 person crowd that saw RSL topple FC Dallas just three days ago last Saturday night.
- The two-goal effort for Paulo Junior marked the striker's first brace in his first-ever start in an RSL uniform. The goals were the second and third for the young Brazilian in the competition after netting for the Claret-and-Cobalt shortly after his entrance in RSL's 4-1 win over Toronto FC back on Sept. 15 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
- RSL's final tally by Collen Warner marked the midfielder's first professional goal for the rookie out of the University of Portland.
- With CONCACAF play out of the way, there's still one more piece of unfinished business for Real Salt Lake (15-4-10, 55 pts.) in the MLS regular season - Saturday's finale at the Colorado Rapids (12-8-9, 45 pts.). Kickoff from Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. is set for 7:00 p.m. MT for a contest that will be broadcast live on KUSG (2.2 over-the-air / Comcast 111). While the Supporters' Shield chase will be top priority for RSL - the squad trails the L.A. Galaxy by a single point heading into the League's ultimate weekend - it will also be looking to keep the Rocky Mountain Cup for a fourth straight season against its archrival Colorado. RSL will retain the Rocky Mountain Cup with either a win or a draw Saturday thanks to a 1-1 draw in their first meeting on Sept. 25, in which DF Nat Borchers' 90th minute header helped the home side secure a vital point at Rio Tinto Stadium.
OK folks I have to head to work, have a great day and I will try to post some thoughts on the playoffs this afternoon, and why it might just be in Seattle's best interest to throw their match with Houston and try to head to the Eastern Conference.
OFF MY SOAPBOX