It's a big acronym -- CONCACAF -- but it's appropriately weighty for a tournament that amounts to having a mini-World Cup taking place right here in Utah. ---
Tonight at 8 p.m., Rio Tinto Stadium hosts the first leg of a two-leg semifinal round between your Real Salt Lake and Deportivo Saprissa out of Costa Rica. CONCACAF (or, in its much longer form, Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Champions League play pits top teams from around the Americas against one another for the 2011 Gold Cup. RSL earned its way into the semifinal round after dispatching fellow Major League Soccer side Columbus Crew.
As was the case in the previous round, the two-leg mini-series (which concludes April 5 in Costa Rica) will count toward a cumulative goal total -- so technically, a win or loss in tonight's game isn't quite the same as you'd expect from other sports' playoff formats. But a huge and supportive crowd could assist in a head start toward advancing. Walk-up tickets are still available at the stadium, and a crowd of 17,000 - 18,000 is expected. Hit the TRAX line, and enjoy high-level international play.