SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake's 2015 season hasn’t been a lost cause, after all.
On the heels of a loss over the weekend that ended their seven-year streak of advancing to the MLS postseason, RSL punched their ticket to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory Tuesday night over CSD Municipal on a header from Jamison Olave right before halftime. All RSL needed was a draw, but their third win in group play not only sealed first place in Group G but a more favorable draw in the knockout rounds that begin February 2016.
Both teams started out the match a bit clumsy, with both sides struggling to navigate the pitch at Rio Tinto Stadium, which has seen its fair share of games recently with CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship tournament finishing there last week.
But on the 13th corner kick of the first half, RSL found some standing.
In the 43rd minute, Javier Morales stood over the corner and put a great ball toward the top of the six-yard box. Olave lost his defender and rose up, heading the opening goal home.
Jordan Allen nearly doubled the lead in the 72nd minute when he put a dangerous shot on frame. The ball was deflected, and if it weren’t for an amazing reaction save from goalkeeper Paulo Mottoa, it would’ve doubled RSL’s lead.
Municipal head coach Wilber Mauricio Wright forced his team to become more aggressive as he made three straight offensive substitutions in the second half. Despite the substitutions off the bench, it was a Municipal starter who had their most threatening chance of the evening.
The visitors were awarded a free kick 25 yards away from goal, and it was Carlos Ruiz who pulled the trigger. His powerful shot knuckled and forced RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando into a stellar lunging save just under the bar.
Municipal were unable to trouble Rimando much after that and the match ended. The win gives RSL their second trip to the CCL knockout rounds in franchise history. First, they will finish their MLS season away to the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.