• Tuesday Oct 20, 2015

    Avoiding loss to Municipal key for Real Salt Lake

    Action from the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League match between visiting Real Salt Lake (white jersey) and Municipal on August 4, 2015, in Guatemala City, Guatemala. (Photo: Juan Meoño)

    SANDY, Utah - With a berth in next year's Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on the line, Tuesday night's Group G finale between Real Salt Lake and visiting Municipal is expected to have plenty of drama. 

    Real (2W-1D-0L, 7 points) can advance with a win or a draw, while the Rojos (1W-1D-1L, 4 points) face a must-win situation. 

    So, it should not be surprising that the host expects traditional road tactics to be discarded. 

    "It's the last chance for them," commented midfielder Javier Morales, Salt Lake’s midfield maestro. 

    Since the Major League Soccer club was eliminated from postseason contention with a 1-0 loss to FC Dallas on Saturday, its focus is on SCCL progression. 

    "We're out of the playoffs. It's difficult, it really is," RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said. "It's up to me to motivate them, to get a response. It's up to the players to get a response. At the end of the day, it's one game. We need this one game to advance." 

    Municipal and Guatemala international striker Carlos Ruiz, who has four career SCCL goals, is expected to give the Real defense plenty of headaches. 

    "He is a very, very smart player," noted Cassar. "He's technically gifted. His body looks much better than it has in the past. He's definitely somebody you've got to be aware of 30 yards and in." 

    RSL and United States international Kyle Beckerman, who made his 379th MLS regular-season appearance on Saturday – a new record for a field player, agreed with that assessment. 

    "He fights for everything," the 33-year-old midfielder commented. "He's a super-high competitor. He's just fights for everything he gets, his goals, the way he holds the ball up. He does everything possible, legal and illegal."  

    If Salt Lake secures the desired result, all four U.S. representatives will have earned advancement to the SCCL quarterfinals for the first time. The LA Galaxy, D.C. United and the Seattle Sounders already have secured their places. 

    "We've just got to find a way to get a result [and] get us into the knockout rounds, so we can start off next year with something really important to play for," Beckerman finished. "It's always good for the fans and it's a fun tournament to be in. We'll just give it everything we got and, hopefully, it'll be enough."

     

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