REAL SALT LAKE TO HOST COSTA RICAN CLUB
PUNTARENAS F.C. ON SAT., JUNE 19
Defending MLS Cup Champs Schedule Central American Power in CONCACAF Tune-Up;
RSL Season Ticket Holders Use “Exhibition A” Ticket at Rio Tinto Stadium at 7:00 p.m. MT
SANDY, Utah (Wednesday, June 9, 2010) – In preparation for Real Salt Lake’s upcoming participation in the 2010-11 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, the team welcomes Costa Rican power Puntarenas to the Wasatch Front on Saturday, June 19, with a 7:00 p.m. kickoff at Rio Tinto Stadium. The contest against Puntarenas represents Real Salt Lake’s 14th international exhibition game during its first six seasons, just weeks prior to the team’s first-ever foray into meaningful international competition against the slew of CONCACAF opponents during the region’s Champions League Group Play.
Officially named Puntarenas F.C., the club is based in the Costa Rican city of the same name, capitol of the eponymous province on the Pacific Ocean side of the Central American country. Since being founded in 2004, Puntarenas have established themselves as a perennial contender in the Costa Rican First Division, with five semifinal appearances in the last nine tournaments and a berth in the 2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup Quarterfinals (now known as the CONCACAF Champions League).
"On the heels of some outstanding international games in 2009, we are looking to take the next step forward as a club and establish ourselves not just as MLS Champions, but as a regional powerhouse in 2010,” said Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey, recalling the 2009 MLS All-Star Game featuring Everton FC (England) and the U.S. Men's World Cup Qualifier vs. El Salvador, as well as visits last year by Mexican powers Club América and Chivas de Guadalajara, "In order to accomplish that we must succeed in the CONCACAF Champions League. We are excited to host Puntarenas for this match, as they are precisely the type of opponent we will face later this fall. We hope our fans will swell with Utah pride and come out to support us as we prepare to take on the world and put RSL on the map."
After failing to qualify for the playoffs in their inaugural Apertura and Clausura seasons, Puntarenas reached the First Division semifinals in each of the last four seasons. In December, the club advanced to the finals of 2009 playoffs, known as the “Campeonato Invierno de Scotiabank,” the first finals appearance in club history, but lost to Brujas FC, 5-4 on penalty kicks after finishing their two-game series tied 1-1. In the recently-completed 2010 “Campeonato Verano de Scotiabank,” Puntarenas again advanced to the postseason stage, losing to Alajuelense 3-5 on aggregate in the quarterfinals and ending their season. The team’s aggregate record in 40 games played between the 2009/10 Invierno/Verano seasons was 10-14-16 for 46 points, with 42 goals scored and 53 goals allowed, placing the team 7th overall across the two campaigns.
Puntarenas are managed by Jorge Walter González Estévez, who took charge of the club back on January 6, prior to the start of the current season. The 55-year-old Uruguayan has more than 20 years of coaching experience in Chile, Indonesia and his native Uruguay.
All-time, RSL has posted a 6-4-3 mark against visiting international squads, with a positive goal differential (17 goals for / 16 goals against). Puntarenas joins some of the planet’s most revered clubs in facing Real Salt Lake, as Spain’s Real Madrid (2006), Argentina’s Boca Juniors (2007), England’s Everton FC (2007/09) and Mexico’s Club América and Chivas de Guadalajara (2009) have previously blazed the trail to Utah.
All Real Salt Lake season ticket holders are assured of their current seats for the Saturday, June 19 contest vs. Puntarenas F.C. by using tickets labeled “Exhibition Game A” and have the ability to purchase a select number of additional, specially-priced tickets. Tickets go on sale to the general public via www.RioTintoStadium.com THURSDAY morning at 10:00 a.m. MT.
Ticket prices for the Saturday, June 19 Real Salt Lake vs. Puntarenas match begin at $14 for those purchasing KFC vouchers (visit KFC locations along the Wasatch Front or the Rio Tinto Stadium box office for information on the KFC “Kids’ Club tickets for Saturday, June 19). Puntarenas stand-alone prices start at just $15 for Upper Deck seats and continue at $18 and $20 in the North and South Goals, $30 in the Lower Sideline area, $40 at East Side Midfield and $60 in the Front Row and West Side Midfield areas. For more information, please visit www.RealSaltLake.com or www.RioTintoStadium.com.
As Major League Soccer’s 2009 Cup Champion, Real Salt Lake earned a bye into the Group Stage portion of the tournament and was drawn into Group A alongside another automatic qualifier, Panamanian titlist and 2009-10 tournament quarterfinal participant Arabe Unido. Those two squads will welcome into Group A another pair of qualifiers, which will be determined when the Preliminary Round is contested over two legs on July 27-29 and August 3-5. The winner of the Canadian Nutrilite Championship – MLS’ Toronto FC – will take on Honduran champion Motagua for the right to enter Group A, with the other spot to be determined between this year’s tournament runner-up, Cruz Azul of Mexico, and another outfit from Panama, San Francisco.
“We are pleased to see the puzzle of our CONCACAF opposition begin to come together. When Real Salt Lake was founded in 2004, part of the franchise’s promise was to further integrate Utah into the global community and make it a gateway to the world. With upcoming games now confirmed with teams from Panama, Canada, Honduras or Mexico that pledge is now a reality,” said RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey. “The CONCACAF Champions League is a major step in raising the profile of RSL on a regional level. We hope our fans are as excited as we are about these upcoming tests against the best teams on the North American continent.”
Three other squads from North America’s top-flight will take part in the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League, beginning with the Los Angeles Galaxy taking on last year’s tournament upstart, the USSF Division II’s Puerto Rico Islanders – the current home of RSL defender David Horst, who was sent on loan to the Islanders in April. Defending Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup winner Seattle Sounders FC will also enter in the Preliminary Round against a yet-to-be-determined opponent from Central America, while last year’s Supporters Shield holder Columbus Crew will forgo the opening round and enter as part of the Group B pool, which currently includes Guatemalan powerhouse Municipal.
The 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League begins in late July with the first leg of the Preliminary Round, wrapping up with the second leg a week later. Those winners will advance to the Group Stage, with the first of its six matchdays to be contested from August 17-19. Sites and opponent fixtures for the Group Stage – Real Salt Lake’s entry point – will be determined and announced in the upcoming weeks. The Preliminary Round schedule is as follows:
2010-11 CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW
ROUND – July 27-29 (Leg 1)
(Home Team listed first)
Tuesday, July 27:
Toronto FC (CAN) vs. Motagua (HON) – 6:00 p.m. MT
San Juan Jabloteh (TRI) vs. Santos (MEX) – 6:00 p.m. MT
San Francisco (PAN) vs. Cruz Azul (MEX) – 8:00 p.m. MT
Angeles Galaxy (USA) vs. Puerto Rico Islanders (PUR) – 8:00 p.m. MT
Wednesday, July 28:
FC (PAN) vs. Marathon (HON) – 6:00 p.m. MT
Brujas (CRC) vs. Joe Public (TRI) – 8:00 p.m. MT
Seattle Sounders (USA) vs. Metapan (SLV) – 8:00 p.m. MT
Thursday, July 29:
CD FAS (SLV) vs. Xelaju (GUA) – 8:00 p.m. MT
PRELIMINARY ROUND – August 3-5 (Leg 2)
Tuesday, August 3:
Motagua (HON) vs. Toronto FC (CAN) – 6:00 p.m. MT
Cruz Azul (MEX) vs. San Francisco (PAN) – 6:00 p.m. MT
Metapan (SLV) vs. Seattle Sounders FC (USA) – 8:00 p.m. MT
Wednesday, August 4:
Puerto Rico Islanders (PUR) vs. LA Galaxy (USA) – 6:00 p.m. MT
Marathon (HON) vs. Tauro (PAN) – 8:00 p.m. MT
Santos (MEX) vs. San Juan Jabloteh (TRI) – 8:00 p.m. MT
Thursday, August 5:
Joe Public (TRI) vs. Brujas (CRC) – 6:00 p.m. MT
Xelaju (GUA) vs. FAS (SLV) – 8:00 p.m. MT
STAGE – August 17-19 (first of six dates; sites/times TBD)
Real Salt Lake (USA)
Arabe Unido (PAN)
San Francisco (PAN) / Cruz Azul (MEX) winner
Toronto FC (CAN) / Motagua (HON) winner
Columbus Crew (USA)
San Juan Jabloteh (TRI) / Santos (MEX) winner
Brujas (CRC) / Joe Public (TRI) winner
Seattle Sounders FC (USA) / Metapan (SLV) winner
Tauro (PAN) / Marathon (HON) winner
Los Angeles Galaxy (USA) / Puerto Rico Islanders (PUR) winner
CD FAS (SLV) / Xelaju (GUA) winner
North America (9)
United States (4): Real Salt Lake, Columbus Crew, Los Angeles Galaxy, Seattle Sounders
Mexico (4): Monterrey, Toluca, Cruz Azul, Santos
Canada (1): Toronto FC
CFU Club Champions Cup (3): Puerto Rico Islanders (PUR), Joe Public (TRI), San Juan Jabloteh (TRI)
Costa Rica (2): Saprissa, Brujas
El Salvador (2): CD FAS, Metapan
Guatemala (2): Municipal, Xelaju
Honduras (2): Olimpia, Marathon, Motagua@
Panama (2): Arabe Unido, Tauro, San Francisco#
Teams in italics qualified automatically for Group Stage
@ Berth reallocated from Belize
# Berth reallocated from Nicaragua