On Wednesday night, I received a text from my brother wanting to know what channel the Real Salt Lake game was on. I wasn't too sure what game he was referring to, since he primarily watches Utah football and he only watches soccer when the World Cup comes every four years.
When he confirmed he meant the RSL game, I knew that this game was big.
While my brother might not be a national indicator of how popular RSL has been over the last month, it's a trend that has been building ever since RSL made the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals. The average sports fan is starting to follow what the Claret-and-Cobalt are accomplishing.
As RSL prepared to face off against Monterrey on Wednesday, Twitter was full of support. In fact, once RSL became the last remaining team in the regional tournament, all of Major League Soccer threw its support behind the best team in the league, proving it with the Twitter tag #MLS4RSL.
Maybe that's why RSL has received high praise from the soccer community. Because for the first time in this tournament (and after years of embarrassment from other MLS teams), there is a team from the U.S. that can actually win it. It's all thanks to the vision of RSL coach Jason Kreis and general manager Garth Lagerwey.
Headed into Wednesday night's match, both teams knew the importance of getting goals on the road. After all, no MLS team has ever won against a Mexican side in Mexico, and RSL hasn't lost at home in nearly two years.
That makes Wednesday's result even more impressive -- it was two away goals that give RSL a leg up when the two teams square off again at Rio Tinto on April 27. That's why Javier Morales' equalizer late in the game was one of the most important goal in RSL and MLS history.
MLS goalkeeper Joe Cannon summed it up best when he tweeted, "Goal RSL!!!!!!!!! Eat it Monterrey. What a finish by Morales!!!! #MLS4RSL"
Sports Illustrated senior writer Grant Wahl agreed when he tweeted, "Absolutely stunning composure by Morales on Salt Lake's equalizer. Hope to see it on SportsCenter."
Grant and other understand the importance of Real's two goals, and while MLS teams still have yet to win in Mexico, Wednesday's draw was the biggest draw in the history of the league.
The team knows how important Rio Tinto is to its success. They have one of the longest current home unbeaten streaks in professional soccer, if not the longest.
RSL keeper Nick Rimando tweeted, "***NOTE - PLEASE DO NOT SELL YOUR EXTRA TICKETS TO MONTERREYFANS! Let's have OUR STADIUM rockin' with OUR FANS! Claret and Cobalt" and fullback Chris Wingert agreed when he tweeted, "We need the entire RioT Stadium to be OUR fans! Cant wait to see you all there"
If Wednesday's draw was the most important draw in MLS history, then next week's rematch is the most import game for the MLS all season. If RSL wins, it will get a trip to the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan next December, where they will get the chance to face off against the best clubs in the world.
Grant Wahl did get his wish, by the way. Javi's goal made Sports Center.
Andrew Reeves has an absolute passion for soccer and a love for all sports. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Andrew_J_Reeves
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