Real Salt Lake was the toast of the North American soccer world on Tuesday night, and for good reason. It wasn't just playing for a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League final, it was out to win respect for all of Major League Soccer.
Why else would @LandonDonovan of arch-nemesis Los Angeles tweet out "Come on Salt Lake!!! Am I really rooting for RSL???"
Donovan like most other MLS players probably jumped out of his seat in the 61st minute when Jamison Olave scored on a wicked volley to level the score with Saprissa at 1-1. The goal all but assured Real Salt Lake of advancing to the CCL final.
ESPN soccer analyst @AllenAHopkins was sure impressed as he tweeted "Olave finish was world class. @RealSaltLake showing what they're made of. The monster has gotten very quiet all of a sudden."
RSL gave up a late penalty, but advanced comfortably and the Twitter praise started rolling in from around the country.
@Taylor Twellman tweeted "Congrats to @RealSaltLake and @MLS for such a big victory tonight in CCL but more in gaining respect around the world."
@RSLshow tweeted "I'm crying at my work retreat and my coworkers think I'm crazy"
Even MLS commissioner Don Garber got in on the act offering his congratulations on his twitter feed @thesoccerdon.
Washington Post's Steven Goff called RSL's advancement to the Champions League final later this month "one of the biggest achievements in MLS history."
@courtemancheMLS said "It's great to see the tremendous support from the entire soccer community for RSL's win tonight. Looking forward to the trip to Mexico."
RSL will face either Monterrey or Cruz Azul in the two-leg final. The first game will be in Mexico, but where exactly depends on what happens in Mexico City in the second leg of the all-Mexican semifinal on Wednesday night. Monterrey leads the series 2-1 after the first leg.
@mbretosESPN tweeted "Finally, an MLS team in the CONCACAF CL Final, RSL allowing the League to save some face after an embarrassing run in this competition."
Real Salt Lake's advancement shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise when you consider the continuity of the roster the past four years. It showed on Tuesday night as the team absorbed Saprissa's pressure and then scored the coveted away goal it needed.
RSL's Mr. Social Media himself, Andy Williams (@bommadog) tweeted this out to his 2,199 followers after the match "We did it Twitches, holla."
@KyleBeckerman simply stated, "On to the finals!!!!!"
First, however, Real Salt Lake has some important league business to take care of.
This Saturday Real Salt Lake will be in New England to put its long MLS unbeaten streak on the line. Next Wednesday the team will host defending MLS Cup champion Colorado in another huge early-season match at Rio Tinto Stadium.
After that the squad will finally be able to put all its focus on the Champions League with the first leg set to be played in Mexico on April 20.
@RobbieRussell03 summed the night up best, "So proud to be apart of this team!! Great work from all the boys tonight!"
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer.
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