There are passionate fans all over Mexico, but few teams in the league play in front of as many sell outs as do the regios, the ones from Monterrey. The fan bases may not be as big as some of the national brands, but they are fiercely loyal, win or lose. And after Rayados’ victory in the Concachampions final, la pandilla’s fans may well want to immortalize Victor Manuel Vucetich in some way in the Sultana del Norte: a street, a fountain, a metro stop.
He has brought their beloved Rayados an unprecedented level of success with 3 trophies in a little under 18 months.
Monterrey had won two in their previous 64 years.
It’s no surprise; Vucetich's career is littered with success. They don’t call him Rey Midas for nothing. And if he guides his team to a final, they win it. He has yet to lose, be it first division, second division, or a cup tie. He even won a title with Tecos. Tecos! (his star player, BTW was the elder Chicharo) 10 finals, 10 wins. Last night was no different, but it may have been his toughest.
This is what Real Salt Lake had in its favor last night: the league’s best team, scoreboard, 2 away goals, a sell out, cold weather, altitude, and a thirty-something home-game unbeaten streak. That is a pretty meaty home field advantage.
Monterrey hadn’t won a game in the month of April. They took the field without a good handful of starters, out either injured or suspended.
It’s no wonder a lot of folks thought this was a fait accompli for the home side.
Yet Vuce knew he only needed his team to get one goal, and if they got it, he would set his team to make it stand. The goal came right before halftime. In the second half, the coach subbed in two more defenders and hung on. The goal stood. Monterrey were champs.
A lot has been made on this portal and other outlets about Real Salt Lake’s commitment to this tournament. They took the event very seriously are should be commended for their efforts. Lost in the accolades, though, was the fact that Monterrey was also very committed to winning the CCL. Rarely did they fied a reserve side, and their record stands for it self: 9 wins, 3 ties, 0 losses. A very worthy champion.
I have been a fan of the revamped tournament since it was revamped a few years ago. Anything that allows teams from our little corner of the world to play meaningful games outside of their comfort zone more than once every four years has to be a good thing, right?
This final validated the competition in many ways, and I do believe they are only going to get better as the years pass. However, I cannot get past the method that CONCACAF presented the “draw” for the knockouts. Both Monterrey and Real Salt Lake made a huge commitment to try and win this year. It is only fair that the Confederation should be expected to make the same commitment to fairness and the spirit of competition.