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06 August 12:42 pm

Remember CONCACAF Champions League 360, the fantastic series that documented RSL’s run through the Knockout Stage of the 2010-2011 CCL?

Well we’re doing that again, this time documenting RSL’s run through the entire 2012-2013 CCL. We have a new name (we’re calling this edition of the series “Chasing the Crown: RSL in the CCL”) and a new videographer (in-house man Nick Lamping takes over from MLSsoccer.com’s Scott Riddell), but we’re all very confident that the series will be just as good as it was the first time around.

We’ll publish a pair of episodes documenting RSL’s trip last week to Costa Rican champions C.S. Herediano, giving you an inside look at the team from the moment we took off for Costa Rica, through the 1-0 loss and back to the moment we landed in Salt Lake.  We'll post more episodes for each of the three remaining Group Stage matches and - if RSL makes it - the Knockout Stage, too.  

The first episode drops today. Don’t miss it. 

Update: The video went live a couple of hours ago. Check it out here.

03 August 12:25 am

Although RSL has already secured the Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup for the 2012 season, the excitement is still not over, with the Claret-and-Cobalt having a chance to pull off their first-ever season sweep of the Rapids with a win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday.

Get reacquainted with the Rocky Cup ahead of this weekend’s match with this history of the rivalry:

2005: Current RSL color commentator Brian Dunseth notched the franchise’s first-ever home goal at its inaugural home match on April 16. Click here for ESPN SoccerNet recap.

Apr. 16: RSL 1-COL 0

Sept. 21: RSL 0-COL 2

Oct. 1: RSL 1-COL 2

Oct. 12: RSL 0-COL 1

Series Winner: Colorado Rapids

2006: After swapping players with Colorado, RSL benefits by acquiring FW Jeff Cunningham who helped the team with two goals and an assist in an impressive 4-1 win on August 9. Click here for Yahoo! Sports recap.

May 27: RSL 2-COL 2

June 9: RSL 0-COL 1

Aug. 9: RSL 4-COL 1

Sept. 2: RSL 0-COL 1

Series Winner: Colorado Rapids

2007: RSL wins the Cup for the first time. The peculiar May 10th match in this series resulted in MLS’ only ever draw by own-goals. Click here for ESPN SoccerNet recap.

April 30: RSL 0-COL 2

May 10: RSL 1-COL 1

Sept. 22: RSL 1-COL 0

Oct. 20: RSL 1-COL 0

Series Winner: Real Salt Lake

2008: The pivotal October 25 match saw RSL clinch both the Rocky Mountain Cup and a spot in the playoffs. Click here for highlights.

May 15: RSL 0-COL 2

Aug. 29: RSL 2-COL 0

Oct. 25: RSL 1-COL 1

Series Winner: Real Salt Lake

2009: RSL retains the Cup for the third straight time. The sides tied on points during the season series, but RSL retained the Cup because of the club’s higher series goal total. Watch Leo the Lion protect the 2009 Cup.

May 2: RSL 0-COL 2

June 6: RSL 1-COL 1

Oct. 24: RSL 3-COL 0

Series Winner: Real Salt Lake

2010: RSL scored stoppage-time goals to draw both games. DF Nat Borchers’ late heroics secured the point on Sept 25 and – after Colorado carried a 2-0 lead into stoppage time – FW Álvaro Saborίo’s dramatic brace gave RSL a tie on Oct. 23. Click here for highlights.

Sept. 25: RSL 1-COL 1

Oct. 23: RSL 2-COL 2

Series Winner: Real Salt Lake

2011: FW Fabian Espίndola’s stoppage-time goal on Apr. 13 would be the only tally of the 2011 series. Click here for highlights.

April 13: RSL 1-COL 0

Oct. 14: RSL 0-COL 0

Series Winner: Real Salt Lake

2012: RSL claimed the Cup for the sixth straight time with a 6-0 point advantage after two 2-0 home wins. Click here to watch July 21st highlights.

April 7: RSL 2-COL 0

July 21: RSL 2-COL 0

Aug. 4: ?

Series Winner: Real Salt Lake

01 August 6:16 am

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Yeah, 10-man RSL’s 1-0 CONCACAF Champions League loss at C.S. Herediano on Tuesday night was rough. But just in case any of you are currently on the ledge, remember, the result is far from the end of the world.

Sure, RSL missed a valuable opportunity – one of just four, in fact – to pick up points in the reformatted CCL Group Stage, leaving the club firmly behind the eight-ball in Group 2.

But it’s not that bad: RSL basically still controls its own fate. If the team wins its final three Group 2 games – one against Herediano at Rio Tinto Stadium and a home-and-home series with Panamanian club Tauro FC – they should finish first in the group and be through to the Knockout Round.

“All-in-all it’s not the worst result,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said after the game. “We can definitely bounce back from this.”

The only thing that would stop RSL from advancing to the Knockout Stage if the team wins all three of its remaining group games would be losing a tiebreaker with Herediano. The CCL’s first tiebreaker is, of course, goal difference.

Thankfully, the Claret-and-Cobalt is in pretty good shape there. Despite playing both down a man and with a patchwork backline after starting center backs Nat Borchers (ejection in the 58th) and Jamison Olave (injury in the 63rd) went off early in the second half, RSL managed to keep the score at 1-0 on Tuesday night.

That will hopefully be important come Oct. 23, when RSL takes on Herediano at Rio Tinto Stadium in what could essentially be a Knockout Stage play-in game in the Group 2 finale.

“We feel that if we take care of business in our next two matches against Tauro, if we can have success in those matches; losing 1-0 is not the worst place to be,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said at his postgame press conference. “Herediano comes to our place in October, and only being down a goal, it would essentially become a head-to-head competition. We don’t think we’re in the worst spot in the world – we certainly don’t like where we are – but we’re not in the worst spot in the world.” 

31 July 8:43 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 2:21 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 8:13 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 10:21 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 2:47 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. 

28 July 12:43 pm

One of my favorite moments from Real Salt Lake’s 2-1 win over Vancouver last night came about halfway through the second half, when RSL center back Kwame Watson-Siriboe flat out jumped over ‘Caps forward Darren Mattocks to win a header.

The athletic play caused quite the reaction in the press box, drawing more than a few oohs and aahs and causing a couple of members of the media to sit back in their chairs and straight up laugh.

Watson-Siriboe was his usual down-to-earth self when talking about the play after the game, somewhat downplaying the high-flying header.

“It was a 50-50 ball, Mattocks decided to go in and I just went 100 percent,” he said. “I had to go 100 percent because if I didn’t then there was a possibility of Mattocks hurting me, so as I went up I saw the ball and I just leaped.”

“I was very focused when I landed,” he added. “There was actually a play earlier in the game he elbowed me in the chest so it was kind of a payback where if he wants to go 50-50 and play hard yolu know we can do that

The play was a bit of a role-reversal for Mattocks, who nearly jumped over a Toronto FC defender to score an incredible goal at BMO Field on July 11. That fact wasn’t lost on Watson-Siriboe, who had a little laugh himself when asked if he’d seen the Vancouver attacker’s header against TFC.

“It’s the heat of the moment,” Watson-Siriboe said with a chuckle. “MLS is very athletic and one of my good traits is I guess I have good jumping ability.”

Clearly.  

 

27 July 12:46 pm

News Photo: Dane Richards of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC kisses…

Real Salt Lake’s back four is going to have their hands full with Vancouver attackers Dane Richards and Darren Mattocks at Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday night.

Mattocks and Richards are both blazing fast, capable of flying down the flanks and terrorizing opposing fullbacks.  The Jamaican internationals have both had success in recent games, with the recently-acquired Richards scoring the opener in the Whitecaps’ 2-1 win over league-leading San Jose last Sunday and Mattocks bagging two goals – including this incredible high-flying finish – against Toronto on July 11.

The No. 2 overall pick in this year’s SuperDraft, Mattocks leads Vancouver with six goals in just 12 MLS games. Richards – who was acquired from New York earlier this month – has two goals and two assists in 20 league appearances in 2012.

RSL head scout Andy Williams is very familiar with both players, playing with Richards numerous times on the Jamaican national team and following Mattocks closely since the talented rookie’s college days.

“As everyone knows, both of them are really, really fast,” Williams told RealSaltLake.com. “I think Dane is more of a winger and Mattocks is more of a forward who finishes pretty well – his goal scoring record is pretty good. Dane has a lot more experience so I’m pretty sure our guys are used to Dane more than Mattocks. Hopefully tonight we can keep them both contained, because Vancouver really likes to use their speed a lot.”

RSL’s outside backs will be responsible for checking Richards, who – as Williams mentioned – plays as a winger. It will be important for the Claret-and-Cobalt’s fullbacks to keep Richards honest, pushing forward when possible in order to force Richards – who isn’t a very good defender – back into Vancouver’s half.  

“The thing with both of them is that they’re not great defenders,” Williams said. “So if our outside backs attack they have to follow. If our fullbacks stay home then you run the risk of both of them staying in behind or getting in on goal.”

Mattocks is a bit of a different animal. He plays more centrally than Richards and will primarily matchup against RSL’s center backs and defensive midfielder. The Claret-and-Cobalt will need to be aware of his darting runs behind the defense and not allow him to turn while on the ball so he can run at goal.

“The center backs will have their hands full,” Williams said, “but I think they’ll match Mattocks."