I don’t mean to rain on RSL’s parade. Far from it. Those guys played a heck of a game last night and actually managed to score at one of the hardest places for teams to play (literally: I’ve heard that “field” described as concrete). What’s a bit funny to me is that announcers and pundits keep saying that Real Salt Lake is the first US side to reach the final. Not true.
They are actually the third, or fourth depending how you reckon such things. The thesis these guys seem to be operating under is that no previous US club has made the final of the CONCACAF Champions League, since the competition has only existed under that name since 2009. As a matter of fact, no non-Mexican team has made the finals in the current “era.”
But the Champions League was a mere name and format change from a longer standing competition, the Champions Cup. The Cup had existed since 1962. Yes, there were many format changes along the way. The fact that this one came with a name change doesn’t totally eliminate the history established in the previous decades.
(I guess with the changes in format for the MLS playoffs this year, we can consider this year’s champion the first?)
The Los Angeles Galaxy made the finals twice. They lost to Cruz Azul in 1997 but beat Honduran team CD Olimpia in the final three years later. This would have made them eligible for entry into that year’s World Club Cup, but the competition was cancelled that year.
DC United defeated Toluca in the 1998 final, which put them into the Copa Americana. Goals from Tony Saneh and Eddie Pope led them to victory in a two-legged matchup over Brazillian team Vasco da Gama. Given the dearth of US entries into the World Club Cup, this is probably the greatest accomplishment of a US club team. That was the last time that competition was held, so DCU are still the holders.
In 1984, a semi-final match was supposed to be held between Chivas and amateur club New York Pancyprian-Freedoms, who made the competition by dint of their victory in the US Open Cup. There was a dispute over the schedule and the semi-final was never held, meaning the other semi-final victor, Hatian team Violette AC, was declared the winner. Chivas and Pancyprian-Freedoms are usually listed as second place finishers for that year.