Real Salt Lake will move on to the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League after beating Municipal 1-0.
It bears repeating.
We're going on to the quarterfinals.
And while that's great, there was a lot of good that came from the last RSL home match of 2015, so let's get cracking.
5. Kyle Beckerman doing a post-match lap
Sometimes, when things have gone poorly, it's easy for fans to get on the case of players who seem to be ignoring them. While it's easy to see that position, it's also the case that they're just incredibly frustrated with themselves and their situation. That's not to make excuses, of course. It's merely to point out that the players themselves aren't blind to the fans. A slew of players did their walk around around the field, and Kyle Beckerman took it a step further: He jogged around the entire lower edge of the stadium handing out high-fives to anyone reaching their hand out.
I just felt like doing it this year. They've been really great to us since the start and before I got here. We know it's a tough year for everyone. It was just a thank you for them. — Kyle Beckerman via RSL Communications
4. Long passes out of the back
Sometimes, RSL uses long passing from defenders as a crutch, but that wasn't the case this time. Aaron Maund, Demar Phillips, and Jamison Olave all had fantastic long passes that made a difference in play and helped stretch the field. That's not necessarily something you can do week-in, week-out and be successful with, but when it works, it really works.
You'll notice that Tony Beltran's not on that list. That's not because he did badly in this respect, but because his greatest impact was more about short passing than any long passing.
3. Creative vibrancy
With the way results have gone, it's easy to forget that Real Salt Lake has been extremely creative since Burrito Martinez joined the team. His impact has been two-fold: First, he'll pull players away from the penalty area with smart movement; second, he'll beat players on the dribble with startling frequency. Additionally, that gets other players trying the same sort of thing, and as a result, we're seeing basically everyone's technical game lifted.
While that doesn't always lead to goals — there might be a misbalance, after all, of creativity and finishing — it makes for extremely entertaining play, and it's more likely to result in goals than simply hoofing and hoping.
2. Tony Beltran's continued dominance at right back
Watching Tony Beltran beat players on the dribble is a thing to behold. He's a right back, he's not too big, and he's not the fastest player. But watching him put the ball just past a player and run around him to pick the ball up again shows you just how unimportant those things are. Beltran is very, very good on the ball; he's clean, crisp, and has tremendous skill. He's been developing that well, but 2015 is absolutely a watershed year for the long-time RSL defender.
Furthermore, his interactions with the likes of Javier Morales are incredible. Their understanding and ability to build play down the right side of the field is unparalleled.
1. Jamison Olave's goal
For the first time since March, Jamison Olave put the ball into the back of the net, and it was a beauty. The service from corners all night was good, and while only one goal came of it, RSL was dangerous throughout. That sort of thing shouldn't be undervalued.
That space was open all night that front area to the top of the six. I really liked where Jamison started. He started a little bit deeper and was coming in rather than being already there which we were on a few of them. Beautiful service from Javi [Morales] and a fantastic finish from Jamison. — Jeff Cassar, post-match quote via RSL Communications