Espindola: “We want to bring international prestige to MLS”

RSL forward would like to raise the CONCACAF Champions League Title

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For Real Salt Lake, the continental dream looms just over
the horizon. After raising the MLS Cup in 2009, the Claret-and-Cobalt have made
it their goal to win the CONCACAF Champions League. Fabian Espindola, along
with his teammates, feel it is during this time that they will get rid of the
bad taste that was left by the sudden elimination from the 2010 MLS Playoffs by
FC Dallas.

With less than a month to go before RSL takes on Columbus
Crew for the quarterfinal of CCL, the Argentine forwards believes that they
have an “attainable” path to a prospective final by avoiding a match against
any Mexican “powerhouse clubs” (in the semifinals, RSL would take on the winner
of the series between Olimpia of Honduras and Saprissa of Costa Rica).

“[The path through quarters and possible semifinals] is an
area where we can put up a good fight. We know Columbus well and the excitement
surrounding this tournament is immense for me because we could reach Club World Cup,” he states enthusiastically.

This is the first presence of the Utahan team at the
CONCACAF tournament, but to the man that emerged from Boca Juniors this fact
doesn’t stop him from dreaming big.

“We want to continue getting international exposure for our
club, and along with that we want to bring international prestige to MLS.”

Espindola’s fellow countryman and teammate, Javier Morales,
told us before the New Year that the athletic development of this team has been
due to the conservation of a core group of players for the last three seasons,
and also to the boost in morale that came with the MLS Cup in 2009. Espindola
agrees with this and further exemplifies it by talking about their games
against Cruz Azul.

“Three years ago, we were a disaster. Today we are able to
match up against this Mexican giant like equals. When we first played them, we gave
them a run for their money, but we made very small errors that lost us the game
at 5 to 4. But when they came to our house, we beat them 3 to 1 with our reserves. That gives me a lot
of confidence and excitement,” he says.

The 25-year-old forward believes that, since his arrival to
MLS almost three years ago, he has yet to reach his maximum level. And he
further thinks that, had they reached the MLS final last year, his form would
have strengthened.

"We were destined to be champions again, and I had played
with all my heart when I scored that critical goal against FC Dallas. Suddenly
being left out leaves you with a bad taste of mouth, like the same one I was
left with when I had to sit on the bench for the 2009 MLS Final shootout.”

Still, Espindola feels more than great about last season, and
in some way the numbers he put up give him that benefit: seven goals, a few
assists in 24 matches.

“That first year that I was here (2007) was very difficult
for me because I played as a winger, away from the net, and I just ran all the
time. Now as a forward I feel more comfortable and I know what I’m doing; I have
scored more goals and I have become a regular starter through the season.”

Aside from his personal journey, it is also true that he has
found a great attacking partner in the Costa Rican Alvaro Saborio. When he was
brought up, Espindola could sing nothing but praises for “Tico” – the MLS
Newcomer of the Year for 2010.

“I felt very comfortable playing next to “Sabo” – he’s
intelligent and very complimentary as a forward. He contributed all of his
experience and a lot of goals to this team. We also understood each other from
the beginning; hopefully we can prove our last season and have an even better 2011
season with more goals,” he says.

When asked if RSL is the most “South American team” in MLS,
Espindola responds, “If it’s about quantity, I don’t think so, because FC
Dallas has a number of South Americans. But as far as the game goes, I think we
are one of the better teams that shows off its ability with the ball, scoring
beautiful goals, and the ones that play the hardest”, says Espindola about the
style of play of Real Salt Lake. And he adds: “The rhythm of play of the MLS is very rapid;
that’s why I think we excel more when we stop the ball. Generally we can do
what we want, especially when the score is in our favor, and it is nice to play
this way, similarly like we play in South America.”

He also refers to the explosive path many Argentines have
established in the last few seasons which is considered the league’s
counterpart to the stability Espindola and Morales have gained at RSL.

"This is a league that, at times, is underappreciated by
many Argentines, when in reality it’s of high level. If you don’t work hard and
believe that with just your technique and that certain attitude will be enough,
you will be mistaken. If you don’t work hard, the coaches will notice and you
won’t have success.”