RSL were good. They sold their joint out on a weeknight for a competition that's only just registered on the lay MLS fan's radar. They got a fantastic result away in Mexico. They went toe to toe with an opponent of superior quality over two legs. And that quality told in one moment that undid RSL. A late flurry couldn't find them the solitary goal they needed to take the next step on the world stage.
MLS is still not there.
A snapshot of where MLS is going? Olave is the type of player the league is increasingly moving towards. He was tremendous. Winning defensive battles, a handful on set pieces, inspired by the big stage. As good as he was, Arturo Alvarez, poster-child of the theoretically talented but underachieving domestic product, trotting on as a sub to provide an offensive spark, was miserable. Tentative, ineffective, overawed by the occasion, and constantly losing possession. There comes a point when promise is no longer good enough, and the league has its fair share of dead wood rotting on its rosters. But the transition is happening, slowly but surely.
So no, MLS is still not there, but it's getting damned close.