SANDY — Qualifying for CONCACAF Champions League can be a mysterious process.
The 2013 season saw Real Salt Lake come within one penalty kick off the crossbar of winning the MLS Cup, but the team somehow missed out on qualifying for the Champions League. This year, the Claret and Cobalt was eliminated in the Western Conference Semifinals after being crushed 5-0 by the L.A. Galaxy.
But that same Galaxy team helped RSL (15-8-11) qualify for the 2015-16 round of Champions League play. Los Angeles’ 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution in the MLS Cup final allowed Real, which finished fourth in the Major League Soccer regular season, to claim the fourth and final CCL spot.
"What a phenomenal accomplishment to have qualified for CCL again," said RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey in a news release. "This tourney — extremely important to our club — helped put us on the map in 2010 when we were the first American team to win our group and again in 2011 when we were the only American team to reach the final.
"Earning this berth in some ways validates our 15-win, 56-point season, a strong accomplishment in a difficult Western Conference. We have been working to get back into CCL since we got knocked out in the fall of 2012. This is a great opportunity for us to take on the best teams in the region as we continue to grow the next generation of RSL."