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Sandy • Midfielder Ned Grabavoy earned the starting assignment for Real Salt Lake in place of suspended captain Kyle Beckerman in its disappointing 1-0 loss Wednesday night to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League finals.
He did an "admirable" job, too, according to coach Jason Kreis.
But Kreis thought Beckerman might have made a difference, particularly in the final minutes of the first half when Los Rayados broke through for the only goal in its win at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"Kyle's an extremely important player, not only in how many defensive plays he makes for us, but how active he is in our possession," Kreis said. "And I felt like we were missing that little bit of energy, probably, when we had the ball. Again, just in those minutes. All in all, I thought everybody gave it their best. We had a good enough team out there to win, so I'm not using that as an excuse."
For his part, Beckerman said it was "no fun" to have to watch from a suite upstairs.
"I definitely wanted to be out there," he said.
What a crowd
Attendance for the game was officially 20,378, comprising the third-largest crowd to watch a game at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"That was a packed house," defender Chris Wingert marveled. "I literally could not see a seat open, and they were loud and awesome. … For them to come out and support us like that was incredible."
Defender Robbie Russell left the game at halftime for RSL because of a hamstring injury, Kreis said. His prognosis was unknown. Defender Tony Beltran replaced him for the second half.
Reward for Rayados
Monterrey became just the second team to qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.
The annual tournament pits the winners of Champions Leagues from each of six soccer regions around the world, and is scheduled to run Dec. 8-18 in Tokyo.
The only other team to qualify so far is New Zealand's Auckland City, champion of the Oceania region.
The tournament also will include winners of Champions Leagues in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia.
Most of those teams won't be known until the fall, though the European champion will be crowned May 23. Real Madrid, Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Schalke 04 are the teams still in contention for that title.