Monterrey Ends RSL's Quest

Thursday, April 28, 2011 | View Comments
- Ethan Gomberg

Real Salt Lake may have been the first MLS team to advance to the Champions League final but could not advance any further tonight at their home of Rio Tinto stadium.

RSL and Monterrey both came into this final leg with some disadvantages. Both RSL coach Jason Kreis and Monterrey coach Victor Vucetich had to make some changes to their best starting 11. Monterrey, mising key players such as star forward Aldo de Nigris and midfielders Luis Perez and Jesus Zavala, also had to play a match in Mexico this past weekend, while RSL was without their captain and stalwart holding midfielder, Kyle Beckerman. Vucetich decided to put in midfielder Osvaldo Martínez and defender Héctor Morales in to replace his missing players. Kreis picked veteran midfielder Ned Grabavoy in place of Beckerman. After the game, Kreis said “I do think Kyle’s presence could have been a difference. Kyle is an extremely important player, not only with how many defensive plays he makes for us, but how active he is in our possession.”

The opening minutes were dominated by very strong RSL offense, with Fabian Espindola earning a pair of good looks on goal, but nothing came of either attempt as Monterrey keeper Jonathan Orozco moved fast enough to stop them. A quick hit by Espindola on Sergio Santana resulted in the first yellow of the game. By the 35th minute, Monterrey hadstarted to assert themselves more. Monterrey’s main striker Humberto Suazo made several close attempts on goal but the quick thinking of RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando and defender Jamison Olave shut down any such shots. About 5 minutes before the half, RSL had two great efforts nullified when Javier Morales was hauled back while on a fast break to the goal. Sergio Pérez was yellow carded for the maneuver. Espindola had a golden chance but was denied when he ventured off-sides during the play. Monterrey’s Suazo silenced the RSL home crowd when he scored into stoppage time to give the Mexican visitors a 1-0 and 3-2 aggregate lead going into halftime. After the match Rimando said of the goal, “Defensively we did everything we could. There’s that one play that we didn’t do so well on and they capitalized on it. It’s that one at the end of the half or the end of the game, when we take so much pride to finish out and get to the locker room or to finish the game. That’s the time that we messed up and took a play off, and it’s one play that can kill you.”

In the 2nd half, RSL changed their backline, replacing starting right back Robbie Russell with defender Tony Beltran. Beltran seemed to have a better run of play than Russell and therefore a good move by the manager. There were no other changes for the start of the 2nd half. Unlike the uneven first half, the 2nd 45 minutes seemed to start with a more balance approach, with both clubs seem to make strong attacks on goal. However with the goal from Suazo in the first half, the pressure was on RSL to make another goal to get back into the game. Both midfielders Andy Williams and defender Olave had some decent attempts on goal but neither were able to overcome Monterrey’s Orozco. Referee Moreno seemed to struggle at times with Monterrey player’s ability to stay down after a perceived foul. RSL players were distressed by the persistent fouls committed without any cards.

RSL continued to feel the pressure and applied more offense after the 65th minute. RSL’s Andy Williams was substituted for midfielder/forward Arturo Alvarez in the 64th minute, in an obvious attempt by RSL to push forward. In what was surely a cumulative offense, both Monterrey players Osvaldo Martínez and Ricardo Osorio were shown yellows for time wasting. Martinez was at the same time being replaced by Duilio Davino. Morales had several chances with corners but they just didn’t seem to connect as RSL is known for. RSL players appealed several times to the referee for hand balls, including believed one by Davino in the box, but was they were continually denied by referee Moreno.

In the waning moments the tensions were high as the home team’s 37 game unbeaten streak was about to come to end. Coach Kreis’s attempted jump start the offense by replacing Espindola with Paulo Araujo Jr in the 85th minute. Araujo scored in several key matches, including a convincing job in the Cruz Azul victory last year. Apparently by stoppage time, referee Monero was not pleased with Suazo going down again and issued him a yellow card. As the seconds counted down, no matter the cheering level from the crowd, corners from Morales or strong attempts by Olave, RSL couldn’t get the ball in the goal. Finally, the whistle blew and Monterrey had won the game and the series and claimed both another CONCACAF Champions League final and a berth in the FIFA World Club Cup competition in Japan in December.

As for Real Salt Lake, they must bandage up their hearts and bodies and return to MLS play, with a trip to new MLS club Portland Timbers on Saturday. Coach Kreis’s closing comments after the game were “From my point of view, we’ll see what kind of people we are now. You know, it’s a really easy task to talk about how good everybody is and how happy we are and all those sorts of things, when things are going our way. So now we have this major, major disappointment; let’s see how we respond.”

Scoring Summary
MTR -- Humberto Suazo (Sergio Santana) 46+

Starting line-ups
Real Salt Lake
N. Rimando (GK) C. Wingert 6 N. Borchers 3 R. Russell (T Beltran, 46’) 4 J. Olave 8 W. Johnson 20 N. Grabavoy 77 A. Williams 11 (A Alvarez 64’) J. Morales 15 A. Saborío 7 F. Espíndola 10 (P Araujo Jr. 85)

Substitutes Not Used: Jean Alexandre, Chris Schuler, Collen Warner, Kyle Reynish.

Coach: Jason Kreis


J. Orozco (GK) 15 J. Basanta 24 S. Pérez 6 H. Morales 21 H. Mier 4 R. Osorio 18 N. Cardozo 20 W. Ayoví 10 (S. Meza 77’) O. Martínez 26 (D. Davino, 74’) H. Suazo 11 S. Santana (A. Carreño, 60’)

Substitutes Not Used: Juan Ibarra, Luis Rodriguez, Jesus Arellano, Oscar Garcia.

Coach: Victor Vucetich

RSL -- Fabian Espindola (caution; Reckless Tackle) 30
MTY -- Sergio Perez (caution; Persistent Infringement) 42
MTY -- Osvaldo Martinez (caution; Delaying a Restart) 74
MTY -- Ricardo Osorio (caution; Delaying a Restart) 75
MTY -- Humberto Suazo (caution; Delaying a Restart) 92+

Referee: R. Moreno (Costa Rica)

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