2011 MLS Power Rankings: Week 6
In this Easter Sunday edition of the MLS power rankings, Real Salt Lake are back on top for another week after holding Monterrey to a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Final.
Let's take a look at some of the movers and shakers this week.
18. San Jose Earthquakes
Frank Yallop's San Jose Earthquakes have had their foundations shaken so badly, they have tumbled down to the very bottom of this week's power rankings.
Chris Wondolowski earned his third goal of the season in the 16th minute, but the Quakes were unable to hold onto the lead, as they fell 2-1 to Chivas USA at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Needless to say, Yallop was displeased by the performance.
“When the whistle’s blown for a game that matters, you’ve got to make sure that you’re 100 percent committed to doing what you need to do for the team,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop told MLSSoccer.com's Geoff Lepper. “And I think that we weren’t together today as a unit. I thought Chivas were way better than us, deserved to win the game. That was a really, really poor performance by us. Collectively and individually, I thought it was terrible.”
The Quakes manager was wondering if his club had lost its soul along the way.
“Even from the opening whistle, I didn’t see any real commitment and fight from anybody,” Yallop said. “I went nuts at halftime because one thing I will ask for is fight and endeavor and scrap. It was nothing. Nothing. And it was nothing all day.”
Quakes defender Jason Hernandez tried to put a more even-keeled take on the disastrous result.
“I think we look a bit disconnected on who’s supposed to step and be the aggressor on each play,” Hernandez said. “We’re conceding wave after wave of attack. And eventually a goal’s going to be scored. I feel sometimes we’re just playing a defensive drill out there, like a track meet going back and forth.
“For whatever reason, we’re second to a lot of balls, and we’re on the back foot, kind of just waiting for things to happen, And at that point, you’re going to get beat. I think that’s been the case the last two weeks. I don’t think that’s the kind of team we are. I think we can turn the ship around, but it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of assessment from guys looking in the mirror and understanding what it is they need to do.”
The only way to go for these cellar dwellers is up, and San Jose has a chance to do just that on Saturday, April 30 when they travel to PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania to take on the Philadelphia Union.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. PT/4:00 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on the radio at KZSF 1370 and KDOW 1220.
17. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Teitur Thordarsson's Vancouver Whitecaps did not do themselves any favors by squandering a 1-0 lead en route to a 2-1 defeat at Empire Field in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Alain Rochat scored in the 25th minute for the Caps.
“I think maybe we were a little bit in two minds,” said Terry Dunfield to MLSSoccer.com's Brandon Timko. “Some of us were pressing and others were dropping off and, unfortunately, Dallas were able to pick us apart.
“It’s difficult when you concede [on set pieces] and, unfortunately in that second half, we didn’t have that skip to our step."
The Whitecaps manager emphasized the importance of defending the set piece and was left scratching his head as to why those didn't register on Saturday.
“I’m very frustrated with it because we have let in a few of them and we have been training on them,” Thordarsson said. “That comes down to individual responsibility—it’s not a team problem.
“I thought we would manage to keep up the pace in the second half, as we did in the first half. I felt that we had quite a good first half and was very much looking forward to the second half, but unfortunately, that didn’t go the way I’d hoped."
“It’s not normal that we give away a game after being up 1-0 at home,” said Caps midfielder Davide Chiumiento. “We lose a game like this, we need to start to really look at our team. Everyone must take responsibility. I don’t know what to say. It’s just bad with the mistakes and we paid in the end.”
Vancouver will briefly step aside from MLS play to take part in first leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinals on Wednesday, April 27 when they take on future MLS side Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo in Montreal, Quebec. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. PT/8:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Rogers SportsNet Pacific and Rogers SportsNet East.
The Whitecaps will then return to MLS action on Saturday, April 30 when they travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on the Columbus Crew. Kickoff at Crew Stadium is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Rogers SportsNet One.
16. Chicago Fire
Carlos De Los Cobos's Chicago Fire had a 1-0 lead for a good deal of the match, but were unable to secure all three points as they settled for a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo on Saturday at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.
Diego Chaves scored in the 18th minute for the Fire.
Up next for Chicago is an April 30 match with the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by MY50.
15. Toronto FC
Aron Winter's Toronto FC will rue the antics of a certain Tony Tchani.
After Tchani scored in the 41st minute, his celebrations afterward result in a second yellow card and an expulsion. Columbus would take advantage of the hole in Toronto's midfield, and the Reds were consigned to a 1-1 draw.
"It is a pity that we gave away the game, because we started very well," Winter told TorontoFC.ca's Asif Hossain, "and then in the end when you have 10 players it is going to be very difficult because Columbus has a good team...after last week how we started, compared to now, it was a very good start. Not only the start, but the way we played the first half, it was very good because we were dominating the game at that time. In the second half we made some changes because we have a very hard period in the coming weeks."
"(Winter) was mad, he thought (my celebration) was stupid, but I didn’t think it was stupid because I have seen games before that (players go into the crowd) all the time," Tchani said after the match. "I thought that for my first goal I had to give that to the fans...On the first (yellow card) it wasn’t me, I didn’t push the guy, it was my teammate."
"You know, to say the least I thought we did quite well as a unit (with a man down)," added defender Adrian Cann. "We clustered the middle, forcing them to the flanks a lot. It was difficult because we just sat in and couldn’t create much, other than a few counter attacks. I thought the new guys that came on did very well, and I’m happy that we played as a unit."
TFC will take a break from MLS action to take on FC Edmonton in the first leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinals. Kickoff at Foote Field in Edmonton, Alberta is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27 at 8:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Rogers SportsNet.
The Reds will then resume league play on Saturday, April 30 when they take on the Seattle Sounders. Kickoff at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington is scheduled for 10:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by GOLTV Canada.
14. Sporting Kansas City
Kei Kamara scored a brace for Sporting, with goals in the 14th and 69th minutes.
"It’s not good to give up goals late," Vermes told SportingKC.com. "We just have to get back to practice this week and try to work on cutting down some of that stuff. We scored two good goals on the road and it is what it is.”
Sporting were down to 10 men after Aurélien Collin was sent off in the 76th minute of play.
“My goals, they were just goals," said Kamara after the match. "What I’m really concerned about is me letting Shalrie (Joseph) score. I’ve just got to be more cautious on set plays like that. Since I’ve been in the league it’s the second time someone’s ever scored when I’m marking them on set plays.
"Goals are goals, I’m always happy to score goals, but the more important is me letting someone score a goal when I’m marking them to get their team back into the game...I want to mark the best guy in the air on every set play. That’s how I compete. So I know into every team I go to or every game we’re going to play, I always put it in my head who am I going to mark. It’s usually their beast header or their tallest guy.”
A tough test awaits Sporting, when they take on the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, April 30 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by KSMO-TV.
13. Chivas USA
Robin Fraser's Chivas USA finally got a huge monkey off their backs.
Chivas rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 at Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University.
Alejandro Moreno scored in the first minute of injury time, while Mariano Trujillo delivered the game-winner in the 85th minute of play.
“I didn’t think we started with great energy," Fraser told CDChivasUSA.com, "but we quickly found it. Even after giving up the first goal, I felt like we were on the front foot from then on. We were aggressive in both attacking and defending. I think that our energy was the difference. We really wanted it.”
“The team was playing well and we were pushing for that goal," said forward Justin Braun. "We feel like we were rewarded for the work we had put in, not only today, but so far this season.”
“We’d been playing well the last three or four weeks, but things hadn’t been going our way in front of the goal," added Moreno. "Today we had some chances and put two in, got a good result, and now we have to keep working hard so that things go our way next week.”
Can the Goats build on this? Stay tuned.
Up next for Chivas USA is a match with the New England Revolution on Saturday, April 30 at the Home Depot Center. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Sports West and KWHY.
12. D.C. United
Ben Olsen's D.C. United unraveled in the worst of fashions, falling to the New York Red Bulls 4-0 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
"[New York] is a good team and if you make mistakes, they punish you," Olsen told dcunited.com. "They got guys who know how to punish you and we didn’t do a good job on Thierry [Henry] in the first half, we let him make the game. [Henry] had too much space to make the game but I was proud that they didn’t quit at 2-0, at 3-0, even at 4-0, the guys worked their tails off in the second half.
"This is a process, and right now [New York] are a better team than we are. Are they 4-0 better than us? I don’t think so, but on the night I suppose they were."
"It’s disappointing, obviously," said forward Josh Wolff. "We expressed before the game what a big match this was and what a big opportunity, and we came up a bit short. The effort was there, guys were committed throughout the entire game, but we made some mistakes and New York has an attack that punishes you.
"You talk about good teams in this league that can capitalize on some mistakes, and they did a great job of that. At the end of the day I take responsibility as well. There were some passes I missed that maybe could have gotten us back in the game, for that I’m disappointed. Losing 4-0 in front of your own fans is embarrassing, and we’ll look to rebound with our games next week."
"New York is a good team," said midfielder Chris Pontius. "It’s tough to beat them and to beat them you can’t make mistakes and you need to finish your chances—we didn’t do either of those things tonight."
D.C. will look to rebound from this blowout defeat when they face the New England Revolution on Tuesday, April 26 at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Maryland. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. This is a U.S. Open Cup play-in game, and the winner takes on Sporting Kansas City in the Qualification Finals.
D.C. will then wrap up April with a match on Friday, April 29 at Robertson Stadium in Houston, Texas to take on the Houston Dynamo. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.
11. Portland Timbers
“We lost, three-nil," Spencer said succinctly to reporters, according to PortlandTimbers.com. "We probably lost the game in the first 10 minutes, going two-nil down. I was disappointed that we conceded two goals in quick succession, it’s something that we are going to have to address, obviously. When you go down a goal, you can’t break down mentally. For the next five, 10 minutes, keep it tight. We’ve done it too many times now. I’ve spoken to the guys about it, but to me—the last two weeks have been fantastic.
“I think we need to start better. Against New England we started well. You can get a little bit too high on your horse and think what a fantastic team you have and forget why you’re winning games. We are winning games at home because we compete from the first whistle. We’ve done extremely well, but tonight we got beat by a better team.”
“We are disappointed by the result," said forward Kenny Cooper. "We didn’t get off to a good start but I thought that we continued to fight. I ended up having a couple of good chances and we as a team ended up having a couple of good chances. They took two of theirs and we weren’t able to find the back of the net tonight.”
A certain netminder on the Galaxy may have had something to do with that. So says a certain Timbers team captain.
“I thought Donovan Ricketts had a great game," remarked Jack Jewsbury. "We created chances, Kenny had a great chance and we had three or four off set pieces. So obviously the final score when you look at it is disappointing. They definitely had the better run of play but he had some big saves.
"At that point in games they can kind of change the momentum so hats off to him and they were the better team tonight.”
And the defeat is certainly unwelcome news, given that their next opponent happens to be Real Salt Lake at Jeld-Wen Field on Saturday, April 30. That's right, potential CONCACAF Champions League winners Real Salt Lake.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by ROOT SPORTS.
10. Colorado Rapids
Gary Smith's Colorado Rapids were reduced to 10 men after Brian Mullan laid a vicious tackle on Steve Zakuani, shattering his leg. Mullan earned a straight red, which added insult to a 1-0 shutout at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.
"It changes the course of events for all sorts of reasons," Smith said on the red card to ColoradoRapids.com. "An injury like that plays on players minds when they carry on. I think it took the wind out of everybody’s’ sails. And then, of course, playing with 10 men from five minutes on it makes our life incredibly difficult."
“I’m sorry for Steve (Zakuani)," Mullan said after the match. "It was never my intention to injure him in the least. It’s a tackle that I’ve done hundreds of times and would probably do again. I had no intention of hurting him. It’s a freak, freak thing, and I apologize and wish Steve a speedy recovery.”
Smith was quick to point out that one could not blame the defeat on the incident regarding Mullan.
"There were so many things that weren’t right," Smith said. "I don’t know whether that was because of the injury, or we were playing a man down. Our final pass wasn’t good enough; when we got in good areas we never made enough of it; there wasn’t enough cutting edge; when we ended up 2-v-3, the inspiration to make the chance just wasn’t there tonight.
"Even the guys that came into the game, while they added some energy, the impact you’re looking for from guys like Sanna (Nyassi), who are very talented, wasn’t there. You’re asking a lot of these guys, with 10 men and really playing against the odds, somebody’s got to step forward and make a name for themselves.”
Midfielder Pablo Mastroeni was quick to defend Mullan.
“A guy of his character, I don’t think there’s any player in this league that for a second would think that Brian would egregiously attempt to hurt anyone," Mastroeni said. "He’s a classy individual and has proven that over a great career. I think that even (Steve) Zakuani is a guy that would understand that Brian is a guy that plays hard all the time, and it was an unfortunate incident.
"But I don’t think for a second that anyone in this locker room, that other locker room (Seattle) or anyone in the league would think of Brian as a guy that has the propensity to do something like that.”
Colorado will have to do some soul searching as it takes on the Chicago Fire on Saturday, April 30 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. MT/9:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Altitude.
9. Columbus Crew
The Crew, however, were hoping for a win.
“It’s a tough place to play with the crowd, but they’re not a very good team,” Crew captain Chad Marshall told Craig Merz of MLSSoccer.com. “We’re disappointed we can’t get a win here.
“They’re supposed to be our rival, or whatever you want to call it. We still haven’t given them three points yet, so we’re happy with that.”
“We should have won the game, to be honest with you,” Warzycha said. “We have to be smarter playing a man up and we have to finish. It’s that simple. A tie is pretty good, but obviously we played 45 minutes with an extra man. We should have scored one more goal.
“We have to find a way to score. We want to score so bad and everybody wants to help and go forward. Sometimes that’s not the right tactic. We have to be more patient.”
The Crew will host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, April 30 at Crew Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by ONN-TV.
8. Houston Dynamo
Dominic Kinnear's Houston Dynamo were able to get help from Bobby Boswell in the 83rd minute, allowing the Men in Orange to split a 1-1 draw with the Men in Red, the Chicago Fire, at Toyota Park.
“It was a tough game and it's always a tough place to play," Kinnear told HoustonDynamo.com. "The Fire came out with a point to prove with the rough week that they had, and we knew they were going to be prepared and ready to go. I told the team that the first 20 minutes were going to be tough for us, we had to really compete.
"I think the goal [by Diego Chaves] came from a bit of a misplay from us, but we talked at halftime, regrouped, and showed a lot of confidence in the second half, stepping out there and playing better."
“I think we played pretty well," Boswell said after the match. "We knew they were going to come out hard because in all the games they have played, they have come out pretty hard, and once the game slowed down, we adjusted to the field. I think we were all over them, and fortunately we got the goal at the end of the match.
"Sometimes when you play games like this, you don’t get anything. To get a point on the road is important. I almost feel like we could have gotten a win, we are almost disappointed. We’re happy with the result today. Any time we get a point, we’ll take it.”
"Obviously the attitude of the guys was fantastic," added midfielder Brad Davis. "We put everything into it. To fight back the way we did, especially coming out in the second half, I think we definitely had the better of the play. I feel like we could have even won that game if we pushed really hard. We definitely had a lot of chances.
"We gave them a couple of opportunities and they scored on one, and that’s disappointing, but to keep pushing and get a goal and get the point is fantastic.”
Next up for the Dynamo is a Friday night match with D.C. United at Robertson Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for April 29 at 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes.
7. FC Dallas
Schellas Hyndman's FC Dallas bounced back from a 1-0 deficit to prevail over the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 at Empire Field. George John scored in the 53rd minute to equalize and Eric Avila, who subbed in for the injured David Ferreira, scored the game-winner in the 83rd minute.
“It’s always bad when a good player like David goes down because the whole team is wondering and worrying about what is going on,” Avila told FCDallas.com's Robert Casner over the phone after the game. “But the subs came in and did a great job.
“[Hyndman] came up and grabbed me and he goes, ‘We are trying to go for the win.’ So I was like, ‘Yes, sir,’ and that was all he told me, that he wants to go for the win. So I came in and tried to get the team going.”
“He got a break-out of the right side, went in, struck a hard ball to the far post and put us up 2-1,” Hyndman said. “We were able to hold on, so a good performance by Avila.”
The subs will be key to FC Dallas reprising their 2010 Western Conference Championship victory when they take on a Los Angeles Galaxy side itching for payback.'
Kickoff at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CT/7:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by TXA21 and Galavision.
6. New England Revolution
Steve Nicol's New England Revolution, now with the services of Benny Feilhaber, were locked in a goal festival with Sporting Kansas City. In the end, the Revs prevailed 3-2 at Gillette Stadium.
Marko Perovic opened the scoring in the 12th minute. Shalrie Joseph equalized in the 72nd minute and Rajko Lekic scored the game-winner in the 83rd minute of play.
“Obviously we’d all like to play silky soccer and get results, but sometimes it doesn’t happen," Nicol told RevolutionSoccer.net. "But I think one of the positive things that we can take from tonight is that we made chances. We spoke about it all week—we haven’t made chances and we haven’t scored goals. So we should be pleased that we got three (points) and I think that if we can be better with the ball, that we’ll make more chances.”
So what does Benny have to say about the style of play in MLS?
“It’s different," Feilhaber said. "(MLS has) a higher pace. I think it’s more physical, a lot of fouls, a lot of cards. At the same time, once I get to the speed of the game and more used to it, I think I’ll be more effective, as well, here. Because of the speed of the game, you tend to have more options to find those little seams and play the ball to our forwards. I’ll keep getting better at that.”
“I felt like I was in heaven when I saw that goal (go in)," Lekic said after the game. "It was like a dream. I didn’t play my best match. I had some bad touches, but when I saw the goal, I was very happy.
“Benny’s (Feilhaber) a great player. He likes to play on the ground and with passes. He tried to find me sometimes. He’s a really good player, so it was nice to play with him. I know him from Denmark.”
Next up for Benny and the Revs (no pun intended) is a match with D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup. Kickoff at the Maryland SoccerPlex is scheduled for Tuesday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
New England will return to MLS action on Saturday, April 30 when they take on Chivas USA. Kickoff is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.
5. Philadelphia Union
Peter Nowak's Philadelphia Union were off this week. Their next action will take place on Saturday, April 30 when they take on the San Jose Earthquakes at PPL Park.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by 6abc.
4. Seattle Sounders FC
Fredy Montero ended his long goal-scoring drought in the 19th minute to give Sigi Schmid's Seattle Sounders a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. However, the victory came with a price.
In the third minute of play, Colorado's Brian Mullan laid a vicious two-footed tackle on Steve Zakuani, ending his season and potentially putting his career in total limbo.
While the surgery was successful, the long-term implication regarding Zakuani's playing career are, no doubt, immense.
“It’s a major blow when you take that blow at the beginning of the game. The guys psychologically have to get through that hurdle and try to refocus on the game. We tried not to really talk about it at halftime, but you definitely felt it hanging in the air in the room,” Schmid told SoundersFC.com's Matt Gaschk. “You knew it was on everybody’s mind. We tried to take care of the business at hand and continue to play.”
“It’s a terrible feeling. He’s a great player and a great friend,” said defender Patrick Lanni. “You could see all of the guys on the field were devastated by it.
“To get three points was what we came here to do. We were able to get it and we made it hard for ourselves, or a lot harder than it needed to be. I think we have a lot to take from the game and learn from.”
The onus will now be on Montero to produce more goals, as his role becomes more crucial to Seattle's chances this season.
The Sounders will host Toronto FC on Saturday, April 30 at Qwest Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by KONG 6/16.
3. Red Bull New York
Warning! Warning! Hans Backe's New York Red Bulls are on the rise once again!
And to make things worse for opponents, Thierry Henry has rediscovered his scoring touch! Watch out Real and LA, this Frenchman's got you in his crosshairs!
Henry scored a brace in the 12th and 38th minutes, Joel Lindpere added a third in the 76th minute and Juan Agudelo scored a fourth in the second minute of stoppage time to give the Red Bulls a comprehensive 4-0 shutout victory at RFK Stadium.
“I think as long as he’s playing and feeling fit, he will always be fine,” assistant coach Jan Halvor Halvorsen told MLSsoccer.com's Kristian Dyer. “He never lost his confidence in himself.
“He can run 100 percent now. He’s moving. He went for the runs we know he can make, he wants to make.”
“I think it’s a lot with the health issue definitely [making him play better] because if you have some pain, you can’t be as explosive as you want to and you can’t run the way you want to,” Backe said.
It will be back to Red Bull Arena for New York, who host Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, April 30. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by MSG.
2. Los Angeles Galaxy
Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy had to stop an uprising from occuring on Saturday night when they hosted the expansion Portland Timbers at the Home Depot Center.
Landon Donovan returned in style, with a penalty conversion in the eighth minute and a header in the 67th to give the G's a 3-0 shutout of the Timbers. Chad Barrett added a sensational strike off the David Beckham delivery in the fourth minute of play.
“[Donovan] played well," Arena told LAGalaxy.com. "He’s obviously been out a little over two weeks. It was good to get him in for 65 minutes. I thought in the first half he played quite well. I think Landon should be scoring goals, so it’s good to get him on the board here and hopefully, there is more to come.”
“The guys did a good job getting involved early, and when you score early it kind of helps everyone’s confidence," Donovan said. "It took some pressure off. The adrenaline gets going a little more. It all played out very well tonight.
“I could care less about scoring. I want to win. I’m not as much as a scorer anymore. I think you guys are seeing that with both the U.S. team and this team. That part of my game has not been the same as when I was younger. I want to win. And, it feels good to win."
“We started off well," Barrett said of the result. "We started off on the attack. We had some good combination play going up. It was great to have Beckham, Landon, those guys back in the line up. The ball was really moving around today.”
“We’re dangerous when we can pass the ball like we can, and like we did tonight," Beckham said of Barrett's ability to find open space. "When we get players in good position and when we move around the field like we do, like we did tonight, it makes it easier for us to play. And Chad, he gets in goal scoring opportunities, a lot of scoring goal opportunities, so it’s good to have a player like that.”
Next up for the Galaxy is a match with FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park. Kickoff at The Oven in Frisco is scheduled for Sunday, May 1 4:00 p.m. PT/7:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Sports West and Galavision.
1. Real Salt Lake
Jason Kreis's Real Salt Lake began the first of two straight weeks outside of MLS play with the first leg of the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League Final against Monterrey at the Estadio Tecnologico in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
Real settled for a 2-2 draw, setting the stage for a huge showdown at the Fortress, Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on Wednesday, April 27.
After Aldo De Nigris scored in the 18th minute for Los Rayados, Nat Borchers equalized in the 35th minute to make it 1-1. Monterrey's Humberto Suazo converted a penalty to give Los Rayados the lead, but Javier Morales broke the home fans' hearts with an equalizer in the 89th minute.
Real will need to win outright or earn a 1-1 draw to punch their ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup later this year.
“This is the stuff that dreams are made of," Kreis said after the match to reporters, according to RealSaltLake.com, "the opportunity to raise this kind of trophy and be the best team in the region.
"It’s been a fair tournament, and if we can win or get a 0-0 or 1-1 draw next week we can count ourselves as the best team in this region. It would be simply fantastic and amazing to raise the trophy in front of our home crowd.”
Morales downplayed the result, which also saw Kyle Beckerman suspended for the second leg due to yellow card accumulation.
“It’s very good," Morales said, "but it means nothing because we have to go home and try to win [the second leg]. In the first half I think we made a great showing, and both teams had their chances. In the second half I think we lost the battle, but that’s normal—it’s their home.
"We’ll see now what happens back in Salt Lake. I think it’s going to be a different game.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. MT/10:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel and Telefutura. A live blog of the game will take place at 5:00 p.m. MT/7:00 p.m. ET here on Bleacher Report.
Real will then return to MLS play when they travel to Portland's Jeld-Wen Field to take on the Portland Timbers. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, April 30 at 8:30 p.m. MT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on the radio by ESPN 700, ESPN Deportes 1600 AM and Juan 106.1 FM.