There’s an unwritten code in the laws of the American sports landscape: not paying attention to an event or team, unless they perform well.
It could be a nice way of saying we’re a nation of bandwagons, fair weather fans, or in terms of soccer, the Eurosnob.
But thanks to Real Salt Lake and their unprecedented run in the revamped CONCACAF Champions League, RSL has now put themselves on the map in the North American soccer landscape, proving how they are the flagship franchise of Major League Soccer and the premier club of the United States. And with their run, they have finally put the Champions League on the map.
Well before then, their run to MLS Cup 2009 was ruled out as a fluke, consequently leading to harsh criticism that the problem is not the format of the playoffs, it is the fact that we have playoffs to determine champions that only the MLS front office calls “league champions.”
This past year, Salt Lake has proven to everyone that their MLS Cup run was no chain of good luck, and that they could play consistently. Heck, they probably play some of the most attractive football in MLS. That’s great for the sake of the U.S. and Canada, but this run to the Champions League finals has proven that Salt Lake is a phenomenal team, perhaps the best since the late-90’s D.C. United.
Yet, as Greg Lalas over at MLSSoccer.com said, should RSL defeat the mighty Monterrey this organization could go down as a legendary club. They’ll win the hearts of the North American soccer fans, and make the American soccer niche proud.
To win the hearts of the European and South American fans, as well as our fake soccer fans in our bag year (ahem, ignorant Eurosnobs), they’ll need to not only make it to the Club World Cup, but be pitted against the toughest opposition and win.
Such a instant credible score to MLS could be accomplished in a mere matter of months, and it starts tonight.