After the first leg CONCACAF draw against the Crew, which saw RSL battle through red cards and frozen tundra, Tuesday night’s victory was incredibly satisfying. While Borchers and Beltran were missed on defensive, their replacements stepped up admirable and provided the kind of stopping power that helped RSL win its first championship. Of particular note, Chris Schuler, out with a broken foot since last fall, started in Borchers’ stead.
With the semis in the bag, RSL must now wait for the results of tonight’s matchup of CD Saprissa and CD Olimpia. The game begins at 6:00 p.m. (MT) and the winner will travel to Sandy to face the home team in the CONCACAF semifinals. This is the first time in history that an MLS team has advanced to this point in the championship, and coach Kreis is excited for the opportunity. Following Tuesday’s game, he said, “We’ve seen that if we can calm down, relax a little bit with possession we’ll have some success. I would hope that in the next round we can expound on that and maybe even play better.”
The 15,405 fans who witnessed the Crew’s second leg beatdown certainly approved of the home team’s style of play. If the stadium was rocking as RSL took a 2-0 lead into halftime, it was going berserk when Andy Williams curved a 20+ yard free kick into the corner of the goal. It was a fitting finish for Williams, who also assisted on two of his team’s three other goals.
With Borchers and Beltran back for the next match, RSL should be firing on all cylinders. Also, Tuesday’s game demonstrated that Schuler and his cohorts are capable replacements when called upon. Coach Kreis has to be pleased with this strong stable of players primed for the challenges that lie ahead.