Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa claimed the final spot in the CONCACAF Champions League's Semifinal Round on Thursday evening, courtesy of a 2-1 win at Honduran champion CD Olimpia in San Pedro Sula. The result, which gave Saprissa a 3-1 aggregate series win, sets up a "Final Four" showdown against Real Salt Lake, with the opening leg slated for Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy (8:00 p.m. MT kickoff).The series will take a three-week break before resuming with the second and decisive leg in San Jose, Costa Rica on Tuesday, April 5 (8:00 p.m. MT kickoff, LIVE on FOX Soccer, Galavision and CONCACAF.tv).
Tickets for the first leg showdown in Sandy are available now and can be purchased online at RealSaltLake.com, over the phone at 801-727-2700, or in person at the Rio Tinto Stadium Box Office Monday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Series Notes - RSL v. Saprissa
- This will not mark the first meeting for these two sides, as RSL welcomed Saprissa to Salt Lake City for an international friendly on July 23, 2008. In that match at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Saprissa notched a pair of goals midway through the second half to build a lead, and Chris Wingert's 90th minute tally could only cut the final margin in half as the visitors took a 2-1 result.
- Real Salt Lake might want to harken back to that contest, despite the result, as the lightning-fast, astroturf-like surface at Saprissa's home ground of Estadio Ricardo Saprissa closely resembles the field RSL played on for four seasons at Rice-Eccles Stadium from 2005-2008. Seven current members of RSL will be able to draw from that experience, having participated in the 2008 friendly (Beckerman, Borchers, Espindola, Morales, Olave, Reynish & Wingert)
- Both teams have a player that has suited up for the opposite side. Real Salt Lake FW Alvaro Saborio began his career with Saprissa, bagging an incredible 95 goals across 149 appearances for "the Purple Monster" from 2001-06. Saborio helped Saprissa to the 2005 CONCACAF Champions Cup title, the team's third to go along with the 1993 & 1995 regional crowns. Saprissa DF Douglas Sequeira might not be able to give much of a scouting report on his former side, as all but one member of the RSL roster - MF Andy Williams - has turned over since he made 18 appearances in Claret-and-Cobalt back in 2006.
- While Real Salt Lake is the first MLS club to qualify for the Semifinal Round in CONCACAF Champions League play, Saprissa is no stranger to going deep into regional competition, having made seven finals appearances during the CONCACAF Champions Cup era. The last time Saprissa made it to the Semifinal Round was 2008, when it knocked off the Houston Dynamo 3-0 on aggregate before losing to Pachuca in the Finals (2-3 on agg.).
2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League - Championship Stage
Real Salt Lake (USA) v. Deportivo Saprissa (CRC)
Leg One - RSL v. Saprrisa - March 15 at 8:00 p.m. MT (live on Fox Soccer, Galavision)
Leg Two - Saprissa v. RSL - April 5 at 8:00 p.m. MT (live on FOX Soccer, Galavision)
Monterrey (MEX) v. Cruz Azul (MEX)
Leg One - Monterrey v. Cruz Azul - March 16 at 8:00 p.m. MT (live on Galavision)
Leg Two - Cruz Azul v. Monterrey - April 6 at 6:00 p.m. MT (live on Galavision)
Leg One - Monterrey/Cruz Azul winner v. RSL/Saprissa winner - April 19 at 6:00 p.m. MT
Leg Two - RSL/Saprissa winner v. Monterrey/Cruz Azul winner - April 26 at 6:00 p.m. MT