KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Are Real Salt Lake the San Antonio Spurs of MLS?
That's how one RSL stalwart sees his team as they get set to play for their second MLS Cup title on Saturday vs. Sporting Kansas City (4 pm ET, ESPN, UniMas, RDS, TSN2).
Left back Chris Wingert, who says he's 100 percent recovered from a broken rib suffered in the Western Conference Championship series against Portland, explains why he makes the comparison with the four-time NBA champions.
"I think we strive to be sort of like the San Antonio Spurs," he told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week. "We’re not there yet. But I like think we strive to be like them in certain ways. They’re a small-market team and have a veteran core who have been around for a while.
"They're great players, but maybe not the best in the league or get the most attention," he continued. "They have great coaching and a great staff … They’ve kept the core together and added pieces around them. It’s kind of the idea of what we’re striving to be like."
The Spurs won their first NBA title in 1999, and over the past 10 years they've been to the NBA Finals four times, winning three more titles.
Real Salt Lake will be making their second MLS Cup final appearance in the past five years, but they've also made the playoffs for a league-record six straight years as well as advanced to the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League final and the 2013 US Open Cup final.
But Wingert believes that Real Salt Lake need a few more titles to be on par with the Spurs.
"We’ve been a good team for 5-6 years and that’s something to be proud of. But I do think there’s something of a difference between winning multiple championships and just one," he said. "Clearly you need to be able to do that over time and win multiple championships. Hopefully we can do that, if not this year, maybe next year or in two, three years."