Home CONCACAF Good move: RSL to get date change for CCL boost

Good move: RSL to get date change for CCL boost

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Jason Kreis

The Philadelphia Union-Real Salt Lake match originally scheduled for April 23 has been moved to Sept. 3. Confirmation is expected from MLS on Thursday.

Of course, the move was made to ensure RSL had a full seven days between its two legs of the CONCACAF Champions League Final against Monterrey.

RSL and Monterrey will play the first leg in Mexico on April 20, then head to Rio Tinto Stadium, where RSL has not lost a game since 2009, for the second stage.

No MLS team has ever won a CCL match in Mexico; but, after losing 5-4 to Cruz Azul in the group stage, a game that RSL had a stranglehold on until fatigue turned the final 10 minutes into a goalfest, coach Jason Kreis has said in the past that he is confident that his club can hold its own in Mexico. That match was also played in a driving rainstorm that flooded portions of the pitch. That match was maybe the wildest one played anytime, anywhere in 2010.

The second leg of the CCL final conflicts with the opening legs of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, but the RSL-Monterey match is worth PVR-ing for fans north of the border. Just as fans in western Europe don’t stop caring when about the Champions League when their local clubs are knocked out, Canadian fans should still have an interest in how our continental championship plays out, even though Toronto FC was knocked out in the group stage.

And, seeing Real Salt Lake, the deepest team in the league, earn the right to go to the Club World Cup would be a coup for MLS. For too long, MLS has had an identity crisis when it comes to the CCL. The front office talks about how important it is for an MLS team to win the title, yet most MLS clubs start reserves in CCL games, and struggle to sell tickets. MLS regularly schedules its All-Star Game in conflict with CCL games, as it has done again this year with the Manchester United date in New York (sorry, New Jersey) on July 27. CCL’s 2011-2012 qualifying rounds are set to begin in the July 26-28 window.

So, after so many mixed messages from MLS, it ise heartening to see a league match moved to help RSL succeed in CCL. And, since RSL is the first team we’ve seen make a habit of starting its regulars in CCL play, of taking this competition seriously, it is a concession the club has earned.

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