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CCL

31 July 7:43 am

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Well, it’s finally here: Gameday. We’re less than 12 hours away from RSL beginning CONCACAF Champions League play with the Group 2 opener at Costa Rican champion C.S. Herediano.

Kickoff’s at 8 p.m. MT at the Estadio Nacional. You can watch the match live on Fox Soccer Channel and CONCACAF.com and listen in on ESPN700 AM and 102.6 La Gran D.  

It’s an absolutely gorgeous day here in San Jose. The sun’s out, the weather’s warm, there’s a nice little breeze and it’s not even that humid. The players don’t have much on their schedule leading up to tonight’s match. Other than a quick meeting and a few team meals, they’re free to do whatever they want – just as long as it’s not strenuous.

I’m going to go ahead and predict a 1-0 RSL win, with the goal coming from the Claret-and-Cobalt’s calescent Costa Rican, Alvaro Saborio.

Feel free to leave a prediction of your own below. Whoever picks correctly wins a virtual pat on the back from yours truly. 

30 July 1:21 pm

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - We're getting closer and closer to RSL's Champions League opener. Just under 30 hours away now. 

RSL photographer Ray Taggart took some cool shots - including the above photo - at today's training session. We've compiled the best into a gallery. Check it out here

While you're at it, check out RealSaltLake.com's written report from today's practice. It's chock-full of info. 

We'll be back with more later in the day. 

30 July 7:13 am

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - Good morning from beautiful - if slightly overcast - Costa Rica. Just one more day until RSL starts CCL play. 

The team is scheduled to train at the Estadio Nacional this morning, the same stadium that the game will be held in tomorrow night. Built in 2011, the Estadio Nacional seats 35,000 and has a natural grass surface. RSL forward Alvaro Saborio is very familiar with the venue, having scored the first goal in the stadium's history in a friendly match between Costa Rica and China on March 26, 2011. Estadio Nacional is not C.S. Herediano's usual home venue - that'd be Estadio Eladio Rosabel Cordero, a 8,000-seater with a turf field located about 10 miles north of San Jose - but the team will play all of its home CONCACAF Champions League matches there. 

A little more on C.S. Herediano: The bartender at the hotel told me last night that Herediano is - and I quote - "so-so." He was pretty adamant that they're not at the same level as other Costa Rican clubs L.D. Alajuelense and Saprissa, which RSL beat in the semifinals of the 2010-2011 CCL. Of course, he also told me that he's a proud Saprissa fan, so he may have been a bit biased.

That's the kind of cutting-edge analysis you'll only find it at The Sovereign, folks. 

We'll be back with much more written and video content later today. Make sure to stay tuned for all of the latest. 

29 July 9:21 pm

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - Less than 48 hours until RSL starts its CONCACAF Champions League run at Costa Rican club C.S. Herediano. Don't know about you, but I'm getting pretty pumped, you guys. 

As you can see from the dateline, I'm coming at you from Costa Rica. It took us a little while to get down here - our flight took off from Salt Lake at 10:30 a.m. - but we did travel in style, flying on a chartered plane with all the amenities. Big thanks to RSL's owners for springing for that.

The entire squad is safe and sound, resting ahead of tomorrow morning's training session and Tuesday's Group 2 opener. A total of 20 players made the trip, giving head coach Jason Kreis a little bit of flexibility for the 18-man roster that will dress on Tuesday. 

That's all for now. Big day tomorrow. We'll have tons of content coming out on both the website proper and here at The Sovereign. Be sure to check it all out. 

28 July 1:47 pm

Only three days left until RSL opens CCL play at C.S. Herediano. Excited yet? 

With Vancouver out of the way after last night's 2-1 win, we can now turn all of our attention to C.S. Herediano, which RSL will take on in the Group 2 opener at Costa Rica's National Stadium on Tuesday. 

We're keeping things light today, linking to RealSaltLake.com's official guide to C.S. Herediano. Check out the article - it contains almost everything you'll need to know about the Costa Rican champs ahead of Tuesday's big game. 

25 July 2:50 pm

Only six days away from RSL at C.S. Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the logistics of RSL’s group and the tournament itself. Quick programming note before we dive in, though. I had the pleasure of recording a pre-CCL podcast with James Edward of the Deseret News, Michael Black of MLSsoccer.com and Jeremy Horton of Goal.com today. That will go live some time tomorrow. Be sure to give it a listen. 

On to the good stuff:

New format                                                                                                                      

CONCACAF made big changes to the CCL this winter, eliminating the old Preliminary Round – in which 16 teams would face off in a home-and-home series – and putting all 24 of the qualifying sides directly into the Group Stage. The teams have been organized into eight groups of three squads each. Every team will play four games in the Group Stage – a home-and-home series against the other two teams in the group – with only the top team advancing to the quarterfinals.

The new format is a big change from what RSL experienced during the 2010-2011 Group Stage. That tournament had four groups of four teams each in the Group Stage. Every team played six Group Stage games and the top two teams from each group – RSL won theirs – advanced to the quarterfinals.  

The changes to the format mean that every Group Stage game carries an added importance, as the mathematical odds of moving into the Knockout Stage are lower when only one out of three teams advances than when two out of four teams advance.

Group 2 info

Real Salt Lake is in Group 2 with Costa Rican champions C.S. Herediano and Panamanian champs Tauro F.C. It’s one of the tougher groups in the tournament, but RSL certainly has a good chance of advancing into the Knockout Stage.

Both Herediano and Tauro are still in preseason and have experienced roster turnover during their summer break. Chances are neither squad will be completely comfortable with their new roster when they face RSL for the first time in the Group Stage – and they definitely won’t be in midseason form. Here’s to hoping the Claret-and-Cobalt can take advantage. 

24 July 1:48 pm

We're only one week away from RSL's 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League opener at Costa Rican champions C.S. Herediano. 

Frankly, those of us here in the RSL offices are going to have a hard time waiting for next Tuesday's 8 p.m. MT kickoff. We're really excited about RSL's impending run through the CCL and we're guessing you are too - which is why we'll be posting CCL-themed content everyday from now until the Group 2 opener. 

We'll publish a lot more information on Herediano and the new CCL format later in the week. For now, we'll let you take a walk down memory lane with the fabolous Champions League 360 videos produced by MLSsoccer.com during RSL's run through the Knockout Stage and to the Final of the 2010-11 CCL. You can watch the first episode above. Links to every video in the fantastic series are below: 


Quarterfinals - Part 1

Quarterfinals - Part 2

Quarterfinals - Part 3

Quarterfinals - Part  4

Quarterfinals - Part  5

Quarterfinals - Part  6


Semifinals - Part 1

Semifinals - Part 2

Semifinals - Part 3

Semifinals - Part 4

 

Finals - Part 1

Finals - Part 2

Finals - Part 3

Finals - Part 4

Finals - Part 5

Finals - Part 6