By beating Municipal, 1-0, Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium Real Salt Lake added a record fourth MLS entry to the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals.
A headed goal by defender Jamison Olave in the 43rd minute and some stalwart work by keeper Nick Rimando earned the victory that enabled RSL to top Group G with a 3-0-1 record and land a spot alongside the Galaxy, Seattle, and D.C. United in the quarterfinals.
RSL bounced back at Rio Tinto Stadium after stumbling to a pair of home league defeats that knocked it out of playoff contention.
"It was a difficult few days after Dallas and the way things went with Portland, you could feel the mood wasn't quite there," said Coach Jeff Cassar. "We didn't have a lot of time to really get the guys ready. But the response that we had tonight from the guys on limited rest after many games was really impressive. It was good that nothing bad happened because we're teetering on if something bad happened it could go south. But I really appreciate the guys sticking together. It wasn't always pretty, but these games aren't, and we got the result and we're moving on, and that was the goal."
This is the first time since the Champions League format was adopted in 2010 that four MLS teams have reached this stage of the competition. Three teams have advanced four times in past competitions. RSL and Montreal are the only MLS teams to reach the finals.
Olave scored near the end of a first half heavily laden with corner kicks. On the 13th serve from the flag, Javier Morales curled a superb serve that Olave drilled home with a fierce header. A deflected shot by Jordan Allen would have doubled the lead if not for a fine reaction save by Paulo Motta. Rimando’s best save was probably a flying stop that denied former MLS striker Carlos Ruiz.
In other games played Tuesday, Santos Laguna reached the quarterfinals as Group A champion by crushing Saprissa, 6-1, and Mexican rival Club America wrapped up Group E play as its winner by tying Motagua, 1-1.
8 pm ET Montego Bay (JAM) vs. Arabe Unido (PAN)
10 pm ET Olimpia (HON) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
10 pm ET San Francisco (PAN) vs. Verdes FC (BLZ)
End of group play.
Group 1 --Santos (MEX) 9 pts., Saprissa (CRC) 6; W Connection (TRI) 3.
Group 2 -- Tigres (MEX) 7; Herediano (CRC) 4; Isidro Metapan (SLV) 3.
Group 3 -- *Queretaro (MEX) 7; Verdes FC (BLZ) 4, San Francisco (PAN) 3.
Group 4 -- LA Galaxy 7; Central FC (TRI) 4; Comunicaciones (GUA) 3.
Group 5 -- Club America (MEX) 10; Motagua (HON) ;7 Walter Ferretti (NCA) 0.
Group 6 -- *Seattle Sounders 7; Vancouver Whitecaps 4; Olimpia (HON) 3.
Group 7 -- Real Salt Lake 10; Municipal (GUA) 4; Santa Tecla (SLV) 2.
Group 8 -- *D.C. United 10; Arabe Unido (PAN) 3; Montego Bay United (JAM) 1.
Teams in bold have finished group play.
*Clinched group title.