[MY VIEW] Let's begin with a kudos to Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts and its head coach, Jason Kreis.
Checketts has done the greatest job of an MLS owner in history, taking Salt Lake City, hardly a soccer haven when he launched the team in 2005, and turning it into a soccer town, where average folks care about their soccer team.
And Kreis has done the greatest coaching job in MLS history, beginning with nothing and turning RSL into the best team in MLS.
But all this talk about RSL being the greatest team ever and Wednesday's RSL-Monterrey game being the most important game in MLS history? Please ...
The greatest team in MLS history? That's an easy one: 1998 D.C. United -- and it didn't even win MLS Cup that year.
D.C. won the Concacaf Champions Cup -- the original Concacaf club tournament -- playing at home and needing to win only three games.
But the greatest victory ever by an MLS team came months later in a competition that no longer exists and in a game few ever saw but whose highlights are available below.
D.C. United won something called the Interamerican Cup, beating Vasco da Gama of Brazil, 2-0, in Ft. Lauderdale after losing to the Rio team, 1-0, at RFK Stadium.
D.C. was coached by Bruce Arena, who had six weeks earlier begun his new job as U.S. national team coach with a friendly against Australia in San Jose.
D.C. featured Bolivian stars Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno, kingpins of the team that had won MLS Cup 1996 and 1997 but was stunned by the expansion Chicago Fire (coached by Bob Bradley) at MLS Cup 1998 at the Rose Bowl.
What is so amazing about the D.C.-Vasco game at Lockhart Stadium is that both goals were created by Americans: Jeff Agoos to a sliding Tony Sanneh at the far post for the first goal and Roy Lassiter with a header to Eddie Pope -- with his left foot no less -- for the winner.
In an era when MLS clubs stock on foreign players, D.C. United's triumph is all the more remarkable because all the starters except Etcheverry and Moreno were Americans: Scott Garlick in goal, Carlos Llamosa on the backline with Pope and Agoos, current D.C. United coach Ben Olsen, Richie Williams,John Harkes and Sanneh in midfield with Etcheverry and Lassiter up front.
(Editor's note: earlier reference had Tom Presthus in goal. He started in first leg.)
There were some extenuating circumstances, as Arena acknowledges in the post-game interview (below) with the late Gordon Bradley. Vasco da Gama was en route back from Japan, where it had played against Real Madrid in the Toyota Cup, and was tired.
But losing to an American team obviously had its effect on the South Americans.
The Interamerican Cup -- played between the Concacaf and Conmebol (South American) champions 18 times -- was never played again.