RSL OK with potential CCL obstacle
LEHI, Utah — The “away-goals rule” is a common fixture in major soccer tournaments around the world, and CONCACAF Champions League is no exception.
CONCACAF applies this tiebreaker in all its Champions League elimination rounds when "two teams are tied on aggregate goals scored at the end of regulation time in the second leg." The series is then awarded to the team with the "greater aggregate number of away goals scored in regulation time in the two matches."
RSL are in a position where this rule could work against them in the upcoming quarterfinal against Columbus Crew on Tuesday. The two sides finished scoreless in Ohio last week in the first leg, meaning the Crew just need a draw, with goals, in the second leg on Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Should the series finish 0-0 after 90 minutes on Tuesday, the match will be decided in extratime (in which the away-goals rule no longer counts) or, if necessary, a penalty shootout.
Despite the disadvantage, team members said they understand the value of the tiebreaker.
"I think it’s there for the right reason – that is to encourage a team to come out and attack when they play away, and not just sit back in a shell and try to defend for the 90 minutes,” head coach Jason Kreis said.
Kreis' plan heading into Columbus was to take advantage of the rule and come away with at least a goal, but the field conditions, multiple ejections and a spirited Crew performance didn’t allow for that.
Therefore if Real Salt Lake were to give up the first goal, it would be as if they are two goals down as they would need to score at least twice to have a chance to advance in the tournament. If they fail to catch up, they'll be knocked out of the tournament that the team has admitted is their primary focus in 2011.
"We will be looking at this in a more positive fashion,” Kreis explained. “We won’t be looking at this with sort of one foot behind us. We’re going to win the game period. We’ve won matches here in every tactical situation, and so the emphasis is, ‘Let’s just win the game.’”
Defender Robbie Russell added that the his team must remain patient and keep its composure, no matter how the series unravels.
“I don’t think you can go into it fearing what could happen," Russell said. "You have to go into thinking we want this to happen or we want that to happen.”
"We will prevail if we just play the way that we’re supposed to play,” he added.
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