Here’s the long and the short of it for Major League Soccer’s group of contenders as CONCACAF Champions League group play is set to conclude over the next two nights … who is “in,” “out,” or otherwise for the coming quarterfinals:
- Houston Dynamo: IN
- Los Angeles Galaxy: IN
- Seattle Sounders: IN
- Real Salt Lake: OUT
- Toronto FC: Hanging on, soon to be OUT
Houston is in following last night’s white-knuckler, a 1-1 draw against Olimpia of Honduras that was just enough to get Dominic Kinnear’s Dynamo into the tournament quarterfinals.
(MORE: Houston advances amid chaos far too typical in CONCACAF matches)
Los Angeles was already in. The team is down in El Salvador to finish out group play Thursday night, and there is positioning still to be determined. But Bruce Arena’s team, with MLS playoffs more in focus now, will surely lean on reserves for this one against Metapan.
Same for Sigi Schmid’s Seattle Sounders, who also has their quarterfinal place booked. (The quarters will be played early next year.)
(MORE: Precious little awareness among broader audiences in this tournament)
Alas, for MLS supporters, Real Salt Lake could not get the job done. Minus leading scorer Alvaro Saborio, the Utah side could not find a single goal against defensively dug-in Herediano last night in the cold and rain at Rio Tinto.
RSL outshot the visitors from Costa Rica by an 18-6 margin but could never find a way through with 10 and all 11 men generally working to get behind the ball.
It is surely an organizational blow considering all the emphasis and attention RSL put on this tournament. The Rio Tinto men were, after all, came closer than any other MLS outfit to claiming CONCACAF Champions League glory, finishing second two years ago. Still, manager Jason Kreis was upbeat in his final assessment.
Really, really proud of the men out there. At halftime, I told them their performance was spectacular. We did all the things that we need to do to win these big games, except for that final touch. I really felt like it would come tonight, and I’m a little bit shocked that it didn’t.”
One final MLS side, Toronto FC, remains in the Champions League running. Paul Mariner’s side meets Mexico’s Santos Laguna two countries to the south in Torreon. In order to advance, the Reds need to win by a 3-0 score, or win by two goal with a minimum of four scored.
Considering that Toronto is traveling without some of its top players, and considering that Santos prevailed by a 3-1 margin when the teams met in Canada, let’s file this one under: Not. Gonna. Happen.