Rule change keeps RSL out of 2014-15 CONCACAF action

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SANDY — Real Salt Lake learned its official 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League tournament fate Friday afternoon after a CCL executive committee vote changed the original rule.

It's a rule that takes effect immediately and put the Salt Lake club’s successful rebuilding year into a tough perspective for fans and the club itself.

In January, U.S. Soccer and the MLS proposed to alter the USA’s qualification rule. Under the original rule, as the MLS Cup runner-up this season, RSL would have been awarded a berth into the 2014-15 CCL tournament.

Instead, the new ruling states the MLS club with the best regular season record, opposite the Supporters' Shield winner, will be awarded the berth, which will now send the Portland Timbers to CONCACAF action. The Timbers finished 14-5-15 and 57 points on the regular season, just one point above the Salt Lake club.

The RSL news release regarding the rule change said that MLS “believes that this change would make finishing first in each conference more significant.”

Portland along with this season’s MLS Cup winner Sporting Kansas City, U.S. Open Cup winner D.C. United and Supporters' Shield winner the New York Red Bulls, who all received CCL berths this season, will all see CCL action in the 2014-15 tournament.

One more MLS club may also see CCL action in 2014-15 as well. The victor of the 2014 Canadian Championship, the MLS sides Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Toronto FC, Montreal, or the NASL club FC Edmonton, will also receive a berth into the CCL tournament.

And after a week full of rough news surrounding the club, it was the last bit of news RSL fans needed to hear this week as the week began with the Salt Lake club loosing its seven-year coach as Jason Kreis exited to join New York City FC as its new head coach, assistant coach CJ Brown exited to join the Chicago Fire and defender Lovel Palmer was traded to the Chicago Fire.

The Salt Lake club saw CCL play in 2010-2011 and advanced to the final, but fell to Monterrey. However, RSL still has some bragging rights as it remains the only MLS club to have reached the CCL final. Kira Terry is a sports writer covering Real Salt Lake for Follow her on Twitter, @kiraterry.

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