LEHI, Utah – Robbie Russell has described his experiences in the UEFA Champions League as some of the most special moments in his soccer career. And now, roughly half a decade after later, he finds himself once again united with his teammates to become the best soccer team on the continent.
“Different countries, different teams, everything is different about them,” Russell said. “But the objectives are the same. Getting hardware of that magnitude is amazing.”
Russell never reached that level in Europe. However, he did find his way into four matches in UEFA Champions League while playing for Norwegian side Rosenborg. He came on as a reserve against Panathinaikos and Arsenal in the fall of 2004, and then started and played the full 90 in both legs of a home-and-away series against PSV Eindhoven a few months later.
“I never had the chance to play in a UEFA Champions League final, but it’s still an honor and such a privilege to play with the best people in that region,” said Russell.
Now he’s on the biggest stage CONCACAF has to offer, as Real Salt Lake look to become the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League when they take on Monterrey at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
The RSL right back feels that he may have some time to absorb the importance of the Champions League tournament down the road; however, right now the focus is on the upcoming match.
“As much as you want to sit there and reminisce, while you are playing it’s all about the next game, and then the next game,” he said. “I can’t compare those times to these times, but I love them individually just as much. Both are just prestigious, and you feel honored to be a part of it.”