OK there is going to be a ton of stuff going on today as we prepare of the big match tonight in Costa Rica (8pm MT on Fox Soccer Channel) so I am going to have one big match day thread with links, updates and whatever you want to add in the comments section.
First up is Part 4 in the great Real Salt Lake Champions League 360 series:
Then there is the list of places you can watch the match with other RSL fans tonight:
Official RSL Watch Party at Rio Tinto Stadium - $25 for all you can eat food and soft drinks in the club area
Watch Party at the Republican- A long standing tradition of watching away matches at a place that has supported the team and fans since day one.
I believe there is a watch party at one of the local Scaddy's being hosted by the Loyalist, but can't find the details
Of course no matter where you are, you will want to check out any updates here, as I will be updating this post often today and there should be a lovely match thread that you can use to comment during the actual match.
more after the jump:
We have seen a lot of great looks at the match and the importance of it, so I will try to link to all the new articles and posts that come out today, let's start with:
majorleaguesoccertalk.com's match preview:
While RSL may have the lead, their test tonight is not an easy one. Saprissa was named the most successful club of the 20th century in the CONCACAF region by IFFHS. They are the only CONCACAF club outside of Mexico to play in the 2005 FIFA Club World Cup and finished third. One of the players for that Saprissa club was Alvaro Saborio, now facing his long-time teammates on his old home field. Saborio played for Saprissa from 2001-2006 so he knows what the atmosphere will be like.
Perhaps nobody is doing coverage of this match better than the Salt Lake Tribune's Michael C. Lewis, who is live on the scene with the team. Already this morning he has a great post talking about Alvaro Saborio and how much this match means to him in his home country and against the team that gave him his start as a professional soccer player. Here is a quote from that article from RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman:
"He's had a smile on his face since he's been back," midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "We all teased him that he wasn't going to come back" after playing here with the Costa Rican national team last week, "but he said he missed us. So he's ready to go. He was born to score goals, so I think he's really excited he gets to play in front of his family and friends."
Then there is Aron York a RSL fan who wrote the following for "The Original Winger" (you know that blog thing run by Dunny and friends)
With the weight of not only their own dreams and desires, but those of a soccer nation that has never been represented on this level, RSL have a big load to carry. Our boys have already accomplished more than any other American soccer club has by simply advancing to the semi-finals of the Champions League tournament. And the good news is, RSL didn't get here by luck, and they sure as hell aren't expecting anything less than to advance to the championship game.
That is just enough to get you started, expect more updates as the day goes along, if you find something good add it in the comments section or send me the info on twitter @rslsoapbox.
Some more updates:
vwhooligan has come up with his look at the big match:
Either history will be made tonight for Real Salt Lake or a bitter sting of defeat will happen. RSL takes the weight of all of Major League Soccer and US Soccer for that matter in to the Monster's Cave (or Ricardo Saprissa Stadium) down in San Jose, Costa Rica, as they face off against Saprissa tonight in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal second leg.
Heck even the big boys of the media world are paying attention, this comes from the New York Times:
While most of the world is transfixed on Europe and the four Champions League games this week, in North America, M.L.S. officials, league players and particularly Real Salt Lake are focused on one of the biggest games in the league's 16-year history - a match vital to the league's reputation internationally.
The Allocation Order bring us:
That's not arrogance coming from an MLS blogger or disrespect for Saprissa. If it were any other MLS team save for New York, I'd probably say Saprissa were the better side. Right now, since we haven't seen a healthy Red Bulls first XI put together a full match together, we have to call RSL a class above the competition. Right now, they're probably the only MLS team who can hang with literally any team on the continent over two legs, home and away. And yes, that includes their prospective opponents in the final, Monterrey and Cruz Azul.
The of course there is Bill Riley, you know the voice of RSL. He offers up this:
The RSL lockerroom (if it can be called that, more like a large open men's room) tonight night will be right below the most vocal and fanatic supporters, who will jump and scream for the hour before the match making it impossible to hear inside the locker room. Then once they enter the field of play, RSL players can expect to be showered with insults, slurs, and objects from the stands. Here's a look a what might await RSL tonight, it's taken from a Gatorade commerical from a few years ago, but a couple of the scenes (including the locker room) were shot here in Costa Ricaespn.kall700sports.com
and yes I am sure there will be even more updates at the day goes along.
OK Update #3
Yes the attention being paid to this match is great if not a bit overwhelming as I try to find the best and bring it to you, so here is the latest preview from the Deseret News:
To become the first MLS team to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League final, Real Salt Lake must survive 90 minutes in the Monster's Cave.
Tonight, RSL will put its two-goal advantage on the line against the Costa Rican side Saprissa at the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in San José, known as the "Monster's Cave." The stadium, which was constructed in 1972, is considered one of CONCACAF's least-friendly venues, as its worn Astroturf pitch, concrete bleachers and raucous fans in close proximity to the field have intimidated dozens of foreign clubs and national teams over the years. Former U.S. players such as Alexi Lalas and Paul Caligiuri still recount horror stories of their experiences at the stadium, such as when Lalas was struck in the head by a thrown battery and when Caligiuri was sprayed with mace.
Then there is some great support coming from other MLS teams and blogs, like this from Portland Timbers blog, Stumptown Footy:
"What this?" you ask. Am I really abandoning the Portland Timbers in favor of a western conference rival? Absolutely not. As far as I'm concerned, on any other day, Real Salt Lake is just one more regular season obstacle our team will need to overcome. Today, however, is a little different as Real Salt Lake prepares for it's second leg semi-final game against Costa Rica's Saprissa in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL).
and of course MLS's Simon Borg is on site and offers some thought from both sides of tonight's big matchup, first a look from the Saprissa prespective:
Deportivo Saprissa believe they know exactly what is necessary to overcome the 2-0 aggregate-goal deficit against Real Salt Lake for a place in the CONCACAF Champions League final on Tuesday night (10 pm, Fox Soccer).
"We have 90 minutes and we can't pressure ourselves," central defender Óscar Duarte said on Monday. "They're a very organized team. Having patience is the key against them."
then of course the RSL perspective:
The much hyped home-field advantage of Deportivo Saprissa is perhaps more myth than reality. Having 21,000 fans behind them may boost the "Purple Monster," but it's not necessarily a major factor for Real Salt Lake, who hold a 2-0 aggregate goal lead entering the second leg.
"Not as big a deal as it's made out to be," RSL midfielder Will Johnson said of Saprissa's stadium in downtown San José. "We have a group of guys who are excited about the challenge instead of intimidated. With our experience and diversity in the squad I think the guys are relishing the opportunity to play in that stadium."
That's not exactly what the Saprissa players had in mind when describing the impact they were hoping it had on RSL.
Listen I get that Saprissa wants players to fear going to their stadium, but we have big boys who have played in bigger stages than this, we have players who have been there and done that, and while their fans will probably throw more than just sharp words and insults (which is a real shame), we have to hope that the officials will take charge and stay in charge of the match.
One thing is becoming very clear, there are a lot of people paying attention to this match.
OFF MY SOAPBOX