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Real Heartbreak, Real Hope - Monterrey 1-0 Real Salt Lake in Champions League final

So nobody likes to lose, not the players, not the coaches, not the fans, but after the initial disappointment of the loss to Monterrey, I found myself not nearly as upset as I thought I would be.  The heartbreak of the moment for me quickly turned into the hope of what still remains to be done in 2011.

I ran into RSL president Bill Manning shortly after the loss, and he was visibly upset at the loss and muttered something like "It was all for nothing" and I said no, we simply lost a match, but we had accomplished what no other MLS team had and we had a lot more on the table than just this match.  I am not sure it helped much.

The reality on paper is that with the exception of the one stat that matters (the score) Real Salt Lake was statistically the better team.  RSL took twice as many shots (16-8), had a huge advantage in shots on goal (4-1), and a massive edge in corner kicks (7-1) but it was a stoppage time goal at the end of the first half that was the difference maker in the match.  Can you lose hope on one miscue?  

more after the jump:

After so many positive things, winning our group, advancing past Columbus with a huge 4-1 win at home, getting the results needed against Saprissa to actually make it to the final. Each of those things was historic in nature, then add in the awareness that was generated among soccer fans around the US, the awareness of the general public in Utah and other places, those are things you simply can't purchase.  I mean the support of the players and coaches that on most days are opponents, that understand the importance of lifting the reputation of the league. Yes that was done, you can be assured that no Mexican team will take MLS teams for granted in this years tournament.  

For MLS teams the bar has been raised, it is no longer acceptable to play your reserves and not care about the Champions League. Oh, take notice we now have a new single minded focus, if you thing our 4-0-0 record was a fluke you are about to find out that we are very much for real.

For RSL players, coaches, and staff, the bar has been raised, we know that we are an elite team with incredible depth, now we have 48 hours to get ready for Portland away. You have big matches at home coming up, lets get ready and be focused on starting our new undefeated at home streak, cause it starts in 9 days.

For RSL fans the bar has been raised, we know you will buy up tickets to support your team, we know you can arrive at the stadium early, we know you can stand for 90 minutes and give your all to support the team.  Make tomorrow your own "wear red" day, at work, at school, around town, wear your red, show your pride in our team.  Then get ready you have 9 days until the next home match (May 7th at 2pm MT- against Chivas USA) show up, wear red (or black) and be ready to show the team that we have their back.  

If you aren't a RSL fan, the bar has been raised, we know you will come out to matches and have a great time, so step up buy season tickets and ensure the next time that history is being made that you are a part of it.

It would be easy for me to complain, whine about what players did what, about what the official might have gotten wrong, but why.  I have no doubt in my mind that the 14 RSL players that were on the pitch, all those on the bench or in the stands had given it their all over the last several months, and they have made me proud to be a fan and proud to have the honor to write a blog about the team.  In fact I think I may be more proud of our guys over the last few weeks than I was at MLS Cup in 2009.  

In the end I find that I have more hope than I have heartbreak today, we have seen what the future holds for our team, and I can't wait for the next match.

Thank you to Dave Checketts & Dell Loy Hansen, thank you to Bill Manning & Garth Lagerwey, thank you to Jason, C.J., Miles, Jeff and the rest of the coaches.  Thanks to Brent Stevens, Trey, John, and all the rest of the great folks on the staff of RSL.

Thank you to Nick Rimando, Kyle Reynish, Tim Melia, Robbie Russell, Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Chris Schuler, Rauwshan McKenzie, Andy Williams, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson, Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales, Collen Warner, Jean Alexandre, Luis Gil, Nelson Gonzalez, Donny Toja, Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola, Paulo Jr., Arutro Alvarez, Conor Chinn, andCody Arnoux. Each of you have played a role and made me proud to be a fan of RSL.