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REAL SALT LAKE ADVANCES TO CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINALS

OK, here is the official press release complete with match facts and comments from the locker room:

REAL SALT LAKE ADVANCES TO CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINALS

1-2 Defeat in Tonight's Second Leg Good Enough to Advance Utah Side Past Deportivo Saprissa 3-2 on Aggregate; RSL to Play at Winner of Cruz Azul-Monterrey Series on Apr. 20, Return to Sandy for Tournament Finale on Apr. 27 

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Tuesday, April 5, 2011) - Real Salt Lake continued to make history for both itself and Major League Soccer Tuesday night in Costa Rica, as its 1-2 defeat to Deportivo Saprissa was enough to lift the Utah side to a 3-2 aggregate series win in the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals. After becoming the first MLS team to win its CCL Group Stage and compete in the tournament's semifinals, Real Salt Lake will now have the honor of representing North American soccer's top tier in the CCL Finals against the winner of the all-Mexico series pitting Cruz Azul against Monterrey.

In front of an intimidating setting of more than 24,000 fans packed into the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, Real Salt Lake weathered the expected first half storm from Saprissa, becoming more comfortable as the half progressed and even having the better of the play across the final 15 minutes. However, RSL relaxed out of the gates in the second half, allowing Saprissa's Luis Diego Cordero time and space from 30 yards out to fire a rocket that beat RSL netminder Nick Rimando into the upper right corner of goal for the game's opening tally less than a minute into the second stanza.

However, Real Salt Lake would find the crucial away goal it needed to wrestle control of the series back just past the hour mark when DF Jamison Olaveacrobatically volleyed home a loose ball around the penalty spot to tie the match 1-1 and put the visitors up 3-1 on aggregate at the time. A late-match penalty kick was converted by Saprissa substitute Alonso Solis in the 87th minute, but the "Purple Monster" would need two more scores in quick order thanks to RSL's away goal in the bank, and the Utahans would hold firm from there on out to secure MLS' first spot in a regional club championship since the L.A. Galaxy won the then-CONCACAF Champions Cup back in 2000.

more after the jump:

Monterrey enters the second leg of its series with Cruz Azul up 2-1 after their opening leg victory back on March 16. Cruz Azul will play host to the second and decisive leg Wednesday night in Mexico City, with kickoff slated for 6:00 p.m. MT (live on FOX Soccer and TeleFutura). The winner of that series will host the first leg of the Final on Wednesday, April 20, followed by the second leg at Rio Tinto Stadium a week later on April 27. Ticket information for the competition's ultimate match in Sandy will be made available by Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.

Real Salt Lake Notes

  • Before it can look ahead to the CONCACAF Champions League Finals, Real Salt Lake (2-0-0, 6 pts.) has plenty of League business to attend to, beginning with this Saturday's road fixture at the New England Revolution (1-0-2, 5 pts.) (5:30 p.m. MT kickoff at Gillette Stadium). RSL will head straight to the East Coast from Costa Rica on Wednesday before training in Foxborough on Thursday and Friday.
  • Real Salt Lake will then return to Utah in time for the Colorado Rapids' lone visit to the Wasatch Front next Wednesday, April 13. Kickoff for the first installment of the Rocky Mountain Cup between the last two MLS Cup titlists is set for 7:00 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium.
  • Real Salt Lake FW Álvaro Saborío played a gritty 90 minutes at the stadium he called home against the team he began his professional career with from 2001-06. Saborio scored the first goal in RSL's 2-0 win in the home leg against Saprissa back on March 15.
  • It's hard to think that tonight's result actually marked the first loss for Real Salt Lake during the 2011 calendar year. The Utah side's opening scoreless draw against Columbus Crew in the first leg of the CCL Quarterfinal back on Feb. 22 in mid-Ohio was followed by four consecutive wins spanning CCL and MLS regular season play. Overall RSL has collected a 4-1-1 record while scoring 12 goals and allowing only four heading into this weekend's clash at the Revolution.

CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - SEMIFINAL ROUND, 2ND LEG

TUESDAY, APRIL 5, 2011

DEPORTIVO SAPRISSA (CRC)  2  :  1  REAL SALT LAKE (USA)

REAL SALT LAKE WINS 3-2 ON AGGREGATE

Goals by Period                    1          2          F

Deportivo Saprissa                 0          2          2

Real Salt Lake                        0          1          1

Scoring Summary:

SAP - Luis Diego Cordero (unassisted) 46

RSL - Jamison Olave (unassisted) 61

SAP - Alonso Solis (penalty kick) 87

Misconduct Summary:

RSL - Robbie Russell (caution) 45

SAP - Armando Alonso (caution) 69

Deportivo Saprissa (CRC) - GK-Victor Bolivar; DF-Victor Cordero, DF-Roberto Wong, DF-Oscar Duarte; MF-David Guzman, MF-Saul Phillip (Allan Aleman 63), MF-Walter Centeno (Alonso Solis 86), MF-Armando Alonso; FW-Jairo Arrieta, FW-Josue Martinez (Alejandro Sequeira 70), FW-Luis Diego Cordero 

Real Salt Lake - GK-Nick Rimando; DF-Robbie Russell, DF-Jamison Olave, DF-Nat Borchers, DF-Chris Wingert; MF-Andy Williams (Ned Grabavoy 58), MF-Kyle Beckerman, MF-Javier Morales, MF-Will Johnson, FW-Álvaro Saborío, FW-Fabian Espíndola (Arturo Alvarez 79)

Referee: Marco Antonio Rodriguez

Referee's Assistants: J. Camargo, A. Morin

4th Official: R Arellano

All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial   


RSL POST-GAME QUOTES & INTERVIEWS

REAL SALT LAKE HEAD COACH JASON KREIS

On his team's muted celebration following the match:

"We did accomplish something, there's no doubt about it. But I think all of us feel that the real history is to be made. We've gotten to the dance, now we'll see what we can do.

"I think I'm going to take some time to digest it. I'm feeling a little bit bittersweet about it all at the moment. I'm really pleased obviously at this historical moment. I guess I would have liked to advance in a little more impressive fashion, would be the right way to put it."

On his thoughts after Saprissa's goal at the open of the second half:

"I'm looking out there at the guys to see if whether or not we're going to lose our stuff and continue to kind of go in a downward spiral. I don't think we did, I think we kept it together pretty well. That's another bit of evidence of them being a mature group."

On his reaction to the Jamison Olave goal at the hour mark:

"Obviously it's ecstasy at that moment. For most of the game we were under a great deal of duress, stress, and emotion. It was a difficult, difficult game for us, and that one goal got us to the next leg. And also what we did at home turned out to be extremely important."

On Real Salt Lake's effort at "The Monster's Cave:"

"Everybody put in a tremendous amount of energy tonight. I'm certain the ground that was covered would probably be off the charts for all our players, so I'm pleased with that. I'm not pleased with every facet of the game, but I am pleased with the determination they showed.

"It's the first time in a long time I can remember seeing guys looking pretty darn tired in the last 10-15 minutes. That must have meant they covered a terrific amount of ground because typically our team doesn't fatigue at the end of matches."

On the performance of Alvaro Saborio during his Estadio Saprissa homecoming:

"He was in particular someone that played with a lot of emotion tonight. He looked very fatigued at the end of the game, and I would have subbed him off but I felt we needed his height in dead ball situations to help us defend. He put a lot into it."

On whether he'd prefer to face Cruz Azul or Monterrey in the final:

"This is the honest truth, I do not care. I think they are very different teams. It was really exciting to play against Cruz Azul because I think they played a very similar style to the way we do. And I think it would be very exciting to play Monterrey because they play almost the exact opposite style that we do, and in some way maybe it would be nice to have a new challenge, to not play a club that we've played before."

Well there you have all the official goodness from last night's historic result.

OFF MY SOAPBOX