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House gives Real honor

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House bestowed a "Real" honor Monday — passing a resolution to salute Real Salt Lake's Major League Soccer Cup championship.

"There's a certain magic about this championship, that it was totally unexpected," said Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass. "This is a Cinderella team if there ever was one," he said, noting that the team barely made the playoffs with a regular season record of 11 wins, 12 losses and seven ties.

The House voted 347-0 to pass the resolution sponsored by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, to congratulate the team. Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, both R-Utah, were among 55 co-sponsors of the bill.

Noting that the team won the championship after only five years of existence, Lynch said, "As a Red Sox fan who suffered forever, I envy the early success."

He added, "Despite being the underdog throughout their championship run, Real Salt Lake orchestrated a series of at least improbable victories against the defending champion Columbus Crew and the Chicago Fire before beating the favored Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS Cup."

Matheson said, "What's great about sports is you never really know what's going to happen."

He added, "This one's kind of special, because the Real Salt Lake team went into the playoffs as the last team in. Eight teams made the playoffs in Major League Soccer this year, and Real Salt Lake had the worst record. But it's a team that throughout the course of this year has evolved."

Matheson added, "There's an interesting sign in the locker room of the Real Salt Lake team. The sign says, 'The team is the star … .' In terms of the Real Salt Lake team, that's exactly what happened" as little-known members worked together and won against favored opponents with some of the most-hyped soccer stars on the planet.

Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., called the team's win a "brilliant" victory that "marks the culmination of a remarkable ascension for a team that barely made the playoffs and only five years ago was a so-called lowly expansion team. In fact, this victory is the first major pro sports championship in Utah in almost 40 years."

But even as the team was honored, an incident showed that it still may not have a lot of attention and respect: the House reading clerk mispronounced the name of the team as she read the title of the resolution. Instead of calling it Real (ray-al) Salt Lake, she called it Real (reel) Salt Lake.

The resolution specifically mentioned three Real players by name: Robbie Findlay for scoring the goal that sent the championship game into overtime; Robbie Russell for scoring the winning goal in the shootout; and goalkeeper Nick Rimando for blocking four shots, including two in the shootout. Rimando was also named the most valuable player of the championship game.

The resolution noted that coach Jason Kreis is the youngest coach ever to win the MLS cup.

The resolution also said that en route to the championship, the team defeated the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference, the Columbus Crew and the Chicago Fire, before defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy, the West's top seed, in the championship game.

This story was reported from Salt Lake City.