Real Salt Lake will leave Saturday for Panama City to play Tauro FC Tuesday in CONCACAF Champions League group play.
Simply put, this is a must win for Real Salt Lake.
With only two matches remaining in the group, Salt Lake (1-1) needs two wins in order to advance.
WHY IT MATTERS
Since Salt Lake’s 2nd place finish in the 2010-2011 iteration of the tournament, the side has largely defined itself by this tournament. The side has gone all out thus far this season, resting key players in advance of matches and playing the top available team in both outings thus far.
The front office has said repeatedly that it kept this core group of players together for one more run at Champions League glory.
They are the better side and certainly will have good opportunities; however, they are also going to be playing in hostile territory. In the 2010-2011 edition of the tournament, Salt Lake won a 3-2 victory in Panama against Arabe Unido, though the side went down early and needed two early goals to retake the lead.
After the shenanigans Tauro played at Rio Tinto Stadium, midfielder Will Johnson observed that the problem would have been much worse had Tauro scored or the match remained scoreless for longer. The conclusion he drew was that it’s critical to take a lead early and never to give one up.
That lesson will likely be on the minds of Salt Lake’s entire roster as they head down to Panama tomorrow.
If Salt Lake can get on the board early, this match could wrap up very quickly. If things stay scoreless late into the match, or if Salt Lake gives up a goal, look for everyone on the field, on the bench, and at home watching to begin to panic.
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.