Real Salt Lake has qualified for the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League for the third time in club history. With the LA Galaxy’s win over the New England Revolution in the 2014 MLS Cup final on Sunday, Real Salt Lake earned qualification into the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League. CONCACAF Champions League is the annual continental club competition for the North American, Central American and Caribbean region. The winner qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup
“What a phenomenal accomplishment to have qualified for CCL again,” said RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey. “This tourney – extremely important to our club – helped put us on the map in 2010 when we were the first American team to win our group and again in 2011 when we were the only American team to reach the final.
“Earning this berth in some ways validates our 15-win, 56-point season, a strong accomplishment in a difficult Western Conference,” continued Lagerwey. “We have been working to get back into CCL since we got knocked out in the Fall of 2012. This is a great opportunity for us to take on the best teams in the region as we continue to grow the next generation of RSL.”
RSL finished the 2014 MLS regular season with a 15-8-11 record (56 points) to earn the third seed in the Western Conference, and fourth overall during the 2014 MLS regular-season campaign. By virtue of the Galaxy’s MLS Cup win after already previously qualifying, Real Salt Lake was the next in line for a berth and will make the club’s third appearance in the regional tournament.
According to the U.S. Soccer Federation, four CONCACAF Champions League spots are available for U.S.-based clubs, awarded to the winner of the U.S. Open Cup, the Supporters’ Shield, the MLS Cup and the best regular-season record in the conference opposite the Supporters’ Shield winners.
With Seattle Sounders FC (USA 2-seed) winning both the U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield this year, the Galaxy had already qualified for the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions’ League by virtue of having the next best regular-season record of those teams who didn’t already earn an automatic berth. By winning MLS Cup, Los Angeles jumped up to claim the top slot awarded to U.S. teams. D.C. United had the best record in the Eastern Conference and secures the third U.S. slot. As a result of LA taking the slot awarded to the MLS Cup winner, the fourth spot goes to the next best team in the Supporters’ Shield standings that didn’t already qualify – Real Salt Lake.
RSL previously qualified for Champions League in the 2010-11 and 2012-13 tournaments, reaching the tournament final in 2011. The club qualified for the 2010-11 tournament with its victory in the 2009 MLS Cup final and reached the tournament in 2012-13 with a third place finish in the Supporters’ Shield standings after the top two finishers qualified through other avenues.
RSL’s All-Time CONCACAF Champions League History
Real Salt Lake owns an 8-4-4 all-time mark in its CONCACAF Champions League history (outscoring foes 29-18), including a 6-1-1 home mark against Canadian, Costa Rican, Panamanian, American and Mexican clubs in the tournament.
In 2010, RSL went 4-1-1 to win a group that included Cruz Azul (Mexico), Toronto FC (Canada) and Arabe Unido (Panama). In Spring 2011, RSL eliminated Columbus Crew (USA) in the quarterfinal stage and overcame Costa Rican power Saprissa in the semifinals to set up a final home-and-home series with perennial Mexican side Monterrey. After a dramatic Javier Morales goal at the death secured a dramatic, come-from-behind 2-2 draw in the first leg at Monterrey, RSL fell 0-1 at home on a Humberto Suazo goal just before halftime on April 27, 2011, at Rio Tinto Stadium to deny RSL passage to the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.
In 2012, RSL posted a 2-1-1 mark in a group that included Herediano (Costa Rica) and Tauro FC (Panama), losing the first match of the group stage after playing a man down for 40 minutes in Costa Rica. RSL swept its two games with Tauro, and needed only a goal in the final group stage match at home against Herediano to advance, with only a loss or a scoreless draw eliminating RSL. Unfortunately, RSL could not find the back of the net against Herediano, the team in the midst of a five-game scoring drought to end 2012.