Everyone should have their eyes glued to their TVs this weekend as the MLS regular-season comes to a close with clubs still vying for playoff spots and the Supporters’ Shield. This weekend’s results hold major implications as to whether or not RSL will win the Supporters’ Shield or the Western Conference and who the Claret-and-Cobalt will face in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Real Salt Lake will be bystanders this weekend as the Claret-and-Cobalt finished its regular-season with Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Chivas USA. Wednesday’s win clinched a top-two West seed for RSL, meaning the Claret-and-Cobalt will play away in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Nov. 2 or Nov. 3 before returning home to Rio Tinto Stadium for the West Semi second leg on Nov. 6 or Nov. 7. Real Salt Lake could still play any of the West playoff teams of Portland, LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders FC or Colorado Rapids in the West Semifinals.
RSL currently sits in first-place in the Supporters’ Shield race and Western Conference with a total of 56 points, 16 wins and 57 goals scored.
With so much at stake this weekend, here is a list of all the key matches that affect RSL and who you should be rooting for:
Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City – 1:00 p.m. MT on NBC Sports Network
The Claret-and-Cobalt will need Sporting Kansas City to lose or draw at PPL Park in order for RSL’s Supporters’ Shield hopes to stay alive. Sporting Kansas City currently sits in second-place in the Eastern Conference with a total of 55 points, one point behind the New York Red Bulls. If Kansas City draws Philadelphia and ends up tied with RSL on points and wins, the Claret-and-Cobalt would place ahead based on the goals for tiebreaker, granted Kansas City doesn’t score 12 goals. The Philadelphia Union is facing a must-win situation in order to keep their postseason aspiration alive. This one’s easy: root for the Union.
Chivas USA vs. Portland Timbers – 8:30 p.m. MT on MLS Live
The Portland Timbers are the only team that can push RSL out of first-place in the Western Conference. A win for the Timbers at the StubHub Center would guarantee Caleb Porter’s squad first-place in the Western Conference and put an end to the Claret-and-Cobalt’s chance at the Supporters’ Shield. Portland currently has a total of 54 points, meaning a draw against Chivas USA would be enough to keep RSL first in the Western Conference. A Chivas USA win or draw might seem unlikely with their current record of 6-19-8, but everyone loves to root for the underdog. Let’s hope the Goats can end the season on a higher note and produce a result at home.
New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire – 3:00 p.m. MT on UniMas
This one won’t impact the Western Conference, but it does hold huge implications in the battle for the Supporters’ Shield. Real Salt Lake sits atop the league table narrowly leading New York by the goals for tiebreaker with 57 goals to New York’s 53. Any result by New York against Chicago will officially end the Claret-and-Cobalt’s run for the Supporters’ Shield. Chicago enters the match desperate for a win in order to keep its own playoff hopes alive. Pull for Mike Magee to keep his scoring form and work some magic at Red Bull Arena.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Colorado Rapids – 6:00 p.m. MT on MLS Live
This match won’t affect RSL’s standing in the Western Conference but it can affect who RSL will face in the Western Conference Semifinals. Colorado will need a draw or a win in order to officially clinch a playoff berth. If RSL finishes in first-place it will take on the winner of the fourth-place vs. fifth-place knockout game. If RSL finishes in second-place, it will face the third-place team in the West. If Colorado does earn a result at Vancouver, its playoff placement won’t be determined until after the final MLS regular-season game between Seattle and LA. Colorado would need a win and for LA and Seattle to draw in order to clinch third-place which would most likely mean a Rocky Mountain Cup semifinal series, assuming RSL finishes in second-place. A RSL vs. Colorado playoff game would be the first of its kind. Who to root for? Follow your heart.
Seattle Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy – 7:00 p.m. MT on ESPN
The final match of the MLS regular-season will definitely be an entertaining one with the former MLS champions taking on Western Conference rival Seattle Sounders FC. Seattle is suffering an epic blowout to end its regular-season, losing its last four matches by a combined margin of 12-2. Despite Seattle’s recent run of poor form, they have already clinched a playoff berth. This match will determine whether or not Seattle or LA will avoid the fourth-place vs. fifth-place knockout game. LA and Seattle will want to grab as many points as possible to put as much room between them and the red line. Who to root against? Both.
Real Salt Lake clinched a MLS Cup Playoff berth on Saturday night, playing the Portland Timbers to a scoreless draw at JELD-WEN Field.
Here are a few interesting numbers from the match:
Real Salt Lake has now qualified for the postseason in six-straight seasons. That’s the longest active run of playoff qualification in MLS and tied for the second-longest such streak in league history with the New York Red Bulls (2003-2008). New England holds the longest streak of MLS Cup Playoff qualification, having qualified eight-straight times from 2002-2009.
Saturday’s 0-0 score line was Real Salt Lake’s first scoreless draw of 2013.
Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers have now met eight times in MLS league play, with the Claret-and-Cobalt posting a 4-1-3 record against the Cascadia club. RSL has recorded only one loss to Portland—a 1-0 result in the clubs’ first encounter on April 30, 2011 at JELD-WEN Field. RSL was 2-0-2 against Portland in four games across all competitions this year.
RSL now owns 22 of its 53 points this season courtesy of a 6-7-4 road record through 17 away games, matching the club record 6-7-4 (22 points) mark on the road in MLS play last year.
RSL GK Nick Rimando made his 200th career MLS regular-season appearance for the Claret-and-Cobalt on Saturday. He is the first RSL player to reach the bicentennial mark in the club’s nine MLS seasons. The draw with Portland marked Rimando’s ninth shutout of the year. His 108 career regular season shutouts are four short of Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS record.
Every member of the RSL family will have their sights set on Portland this weekend, with the Claret-and-Cobalt set to take on the Timbers in a huge match at JELD-WEN Field at 8:30 p.m. on CW30 on Saturday night.
While Portland is the center of the Real Salt Lake – and, frankly, MLS – universe this weekend, there are plenty of other matches around the league that will affect RSL’s place in the standings. We’ve listed those matches below, along with some info on who you should be pulling for.
Sporting Kansas City v. D.C. United – 6:00 p.m. MT on NBC Sports Network
This might be a tad difficult in the wake of D.C.’s win over RSL in the Open Cup Final on Oct. 1, but Claret-and-Cobalt fans should be rooting for United to pull the upset at Sporting Park on Friday night. Kansas City and RSL have identical records, with the Claret-and-Cobalt leading SKC in the Supporters’ Shield standings by virtue of the goals scored tiebreaker. A little breathing room couldn’t hurt, however – pull for Ben Olsen’s squad.
FC Dallas v. Seattle Sounders FC – 12:30 p.m. MT on NBC
All those games in hand didn’t go exactly to plan for Seattle, which has lost its last three matches by a combined margin of 10-2. Despite the recent run of poor for, the Sounders are still just one point behind RSL in the standings, sitting in fourth-place in the Western Conference. Pull for Dallas – which announced on Friday that Head Coach Schellas Hyndman won’t return to his post in 2014 – in this nationally televised contest in Frisco.
Colorado Rapids v. Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 4:00 p.m. MT on Altitude
Pretty simple calculus in this one. Do what you do so well, RSL fans: Root against the Rapids. A Colorado loss or tie would lock up a playoff spot for RSL. Pull for the ‘Caps to get a result on the road.
Houston Dynamo v. New York Red Bulls – 2:00 p.m. MT on UniMas
This one won’t impact the Western Conference race, but it does hold huge implications in the battle for the Supporters’ Shield. New York currently sits atop the league table with 53 points, ahead of Portland by virtue of the wins tiebreaker. If RSL is to have any hope of lifting the Supporters’ Shield this season, the Red Bulls will have to lose or tie one of their final two matches. Both are tough – New York finishes the season at home against what will be a desperate Chicago side – but Houston is a notoriously difficult place to play. Pull for the Dynamo to take all three at BBVA Compass Stadium.
LA Galaxy v. San Jose Earthquakes – 7:00 p.m. MT on ESPN
With San Jose effectively unable to pass the Claret-and-Cobalt in the West standings, pull for the Quakes to topple the Galaxy at the StubHub Center on Sunday. LA is inching up on RSL – just one point behind heading into the weekend – and it would be good for the Utah side if Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Co. dropped points to their California rival.
Make sure to tune-in to all of these matches this weekend. All five will be available to watch in Utah, with four on national TV and the fifth – Colorado v. Vancouver – on the Altitude network.
Best of all is that none of the above games conflict with the main event: RSL at Portland. 8:30 p.m. MT. CW30 and MLSsoccer.com as the Stream of the Week.
RSL and Portland are set to square off in a huge Western Conference battle on Saturday night, with the Claret-and-Cobalt entering the not-so-friendly confines of JELD-WEN Field for an 8:30 p.m. kickoff against the Timbers.
Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of the match, which you can catch on CW30:
Supporters’ Shield and Western Conference title hopes hang in the balance
Pretty simple here: Realistically, RSL needs to beat Portland on Saturday night in order to have a shot of winning the Supporters’ Shield and Western Conference titles.
The Claret-and-Cobalt wouldn’t be officially eliminated from either race with a draw or loss on Saturday, but – with Portland one point ahead of RSL and playing a very winnable game at Chivas USA in their finale next Saturday – the Utah side probably needs all three points this weekend to have a shot. If RSL beats Portland and wins its regular season finale on Wednesday against Chivas USA at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Utah side would win the regular season Western Conference title.
Even if the team wins its final two matches, RSL would still need a bit of help to win the Shield. New York is one point ahead of the Claret-and-Cobalt in the league standings. The Red Bulls would have to lose or tie one of their final two matches – they’re at Houston on Sunday and home against Chicago next week – for RSL to lift the Shield after victories in its final two games.
Here’s an easier version: Root for RSL to win out and New York to lose or draw one of its final two matches. We’ll get into the many other permutations should Saturday’s result dictate such.
This is a little bit gnarly, so we’ll break it down bullet point style. Remember that with the Western Conference being so jumbled – Portland leads with 53 points, RSL is in second with 52, LA and Seattle both have 51, Colorado has 48 and San Jose and Vancouver are on the outside with 47 and 45 – any sort of result would be huge for RSL on Saturday.
Here we go. RSL will clinch a playoff berth this weekend with:
- A win at Portland
- A Colorado loss or tie against Vancouver on Saturday afternoon, regardless of RSL’s result at Portland
- A San Jose loss or tie at LA on Sunday night, regardless of RSL’s result at Portland
RSL can’t officially clinch with a draw at Portland if both Colorado and San Jose win. However, the Claret-and-Cobalt would effectively sew up a sixth-straight postseason berth with just one point at the Timbers. Here’s how:
- A draw at Portland would put RSL at 53 points
- If both San Jose and Colorado win both of their remaining games AND both LA and Seattle finish with more than 53 points AND RSL loses to Chivas USA on Wednesday, RSL and San Jose would finish the year tied for fifth in the West with 53 points
- MLS would then use its tiebreaker system to determine if San Jose or RSL qualified for the playoffs
- The teams would be tied on the first tiebreaker, each having 15 wins
- MLS would then move to the second tiebreaker, which is goals scored. RSL currently has 55 goals and San Jose currently has 33 goals. That looks pretty good for RSL.
Morales suspended; Beckerman, Rimando and Saborio available
RSL will be without one of its most dangerous players on Saturday at Portland, as playmaker Javier Morales will miss the match while serving a one-game suspension due to yellow card accumulation. Morales was instrumental in RSL’s previous two league games against Portland, scoring two goals and notching an assist in MLS action against Portland.
On the plus side, three Real Salt Lake players will be returning to the fold on Saturday, with Captain Kyle Beckerman (U.S.), goalkeeper Nick Rimando (U.S.) and forward Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) all returning from international duty. Beckerman played 90 minutes for the U.S. in its 3-2 win at Panama on Tuesday while Saborio came off the bench early in the second half and scored a goal in Costa Rica’s 2-1 win over Mexico on the same night.
Real Salt Lake is getting set to take on the Portland Timbers this Saturday night in a huge match at JELD-WEN Field. RSL has played once at JELD-WEN this year, trading punches with the Timbers in a wild match on Aug. 21 that ended 3-3 thanks to Claret-and-Cobalt midfielder Cole Grossman's 93rd minute equalizer.
Check out highlights from that match above. Tune-in to CW30 at 8:30 p.m. this Saturday to see if this weekend's contest lives up to it.
Real Salt Lake needed the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC to tie in order for the Claret-and-Cobalt to remain in first-place in the Western Conference by virtue of the goals scored tiebreaker, and remain in second place in the Supporters’ Shield race. But Portland’s win over Seattle has changed all of that.
With the Timbers’ 1-0 win over Seattle, Real Salt Lake now finds itself in second-place in the West with 52 points, one point behind first-place Portland who leads with 53 points. Seattle is now in third-place with 51 points, one point behind the Claret-and-Cobalt. All three teams are now on even footing with 32 games played by all.
In the Supporters’ Shield race, RSL finds itself in third-place behind the New York Red Bulls and the Portland Timbers. New York leads Portland on the total wins tiebreaker by notching two more wins than the Timbers; both teams are tied with 53 points total.
Sunday’s results now put extra pressure on the Claret-and-Cobalt to record a win against the Portland Timbers when they face each other on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 8:30 p.m. MT at JELD-WEN Field. Saturday’s match will be broadcast live on CW30, ESPN 700 AM and 102.3 La Gran D FM/1600 AM. Real Salt Lake is 1-1-0 against the Portland Timbers in MLS regular season play, and is 2-1-0 this year in all competitions. The last time RSL faced Portland at JELD-WEN Field was on August 21, which ended in a thrilling 3-3 tie. The Claret-and Cobalt have won all their home games against the Timbers this year.
In what has turned out the be one of the tightest playoff races in MLS history, no team in the Western Conference has clinched a playoff berth with two games remaining in the regular season (except LA who have three). A win on Saturday for Real Salt Lake would clinch its sixth-consecutive playoff berth, guaranteeing at least fourth-place in the West. If RSL defeats Portland and Chivas USA on Oct. 23, the Claret-and-Cobalt would win the West.
RSL’s position might become a bit clearer after the LA Galaxy take on the Montreal Impact on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at the StubHub Center at 8:30 p.m. MT. An LA loss would guarantee RSL at least third-place in the West if it takes care of business on Saturday. A win plus a New York Red Bulls loss or tie to the Houston Dynamo on Sunday would allow Real Salt Lake to retake the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race.
What to watch and who to root for:
Wednesday, Oct. 16: LA Galaxy vs. Montreal Impact, 8:30 p.m. MT – Root for Montreal to regain its winning ways
Saturday, Oct. 19: Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake, 8:30 p.m. MT – You know who to root for
Sunday, Oct. 20: Houston Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls, 2:00 p.m. MT – Let’s hope New York continues its notorious road woes with a loss in Texas
The Claret-and-Cobalt won’t be in action, but the entire Real Salt Lake family will be locked into one MLS match this weekend: Sunday’s Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders contest (7:00 p.m. MT; ESPN).
Sunday’s Cascadia Cup game between the Timbers and the Sounders at JELD-WEN Field holds massive Supporters’ Shield and Western Conference title implications, with the result going a long way toward determining whether or not RSL will have a realistic shot at either crown come Monday morning.
Here’s the short story, RSL fans: Root for a tie – hard.
A draw between Portland and Seattle on Sunday would keep RSL in first-place in the West, ahead of Seattle by virtue of the goals scored tiebreaker and up one point on Portland. The Claret-and-Cobalt would remain in second-place in the Supporters’ Shield race, one point behind New York, which is also idle this weekend. RSL, New York, Portland and Seattle will all have two regular season games remaining after this weekend.
A win by either side on Sunday would put RSL in a more precarious position in the Shield and West races. A Seattle victory would put the Sounders in first in both the Shield and Western Conference races, two points ahead of the Claret-and-Cobalt, which would drop to second in the West and third in the Shield race. A Portland win would vault the Timbers into first in the West and second in the Supporters’ Shield standings, and would put RSL one point behind the Timbers, in second in the West and third in the battle for the Shield.
Reiterating: A draw between Portland and Seattle would lead to RSL’s clearest past to the Western Conference crown and Supporters’ Shield. A win by either side wouldn’t eliminate RSL from either race, but it would make things significantly tougher for the Claret-and-Cobalt.
Do up your favorite knot, tune-in to ESPN, and pull hard for a tie between Portland and Seattle this Sunday.
Real Salt Lake’s Supporters’ Shield and Western Conference hopes got a big boost on Wednesday night, with West rivals Seattle losing to Vancouver, Colorado falling at San Jose and Supporters’ Shield foe Kansas City drawing at Houston to keep the Claret-and-Cobalt in the thick of both races.
Vancouver did RSL a major solid by beating Seattle 4-1, with 18-year-old forward Kekuta Manneh notching a hat trick to help the ‘Caps stun the Sounders at CenturyLink Field. The result keeps RSL in first in the West, one point ahead of Seattle, which now has only one game in hand on the Claret-and-Cobalt. The Sounders will make up that match on Sunday, when they’ll take on Cascadia rival Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field at 7 p.m. MT on ESPN.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) October 10, 2013
While San Jose’s win over Colorado prevented RSL from securing a sixth-straight playoff berth on Wednesday night, the result was still pretty good for Jason Kreis and Co. The Rapids loss keeps Colorado – which is four points behind RSL – off of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s back, making the prospect of securing an all-important top-three seed in the West that much easier.
RSL would’ve preferred a Houston win over Kansas City, but Wednesday’s scoreless draw between the two sides at BBVA Compass Stadium isn’t all bad. Hard-charging Sporting is now dead even with RSL, with both sides posting a 15-10-7 record through 32 games.
Here’s how the big picture looks for RSL following Wednesday’s games:
- RSL needs two points from its two remaining matches (i.e., one win or two draws) to clinch a playoff spot. A San Jose loss or tie or a Colorado loss in either of those clubs' two remaining matches would also lock up a playoff berth for the Claret-and-Cobalt. RSL’s next chance to clinch a playoff berth will come on Oct. 19, when a win at Portland would secure a postseason spot for the club.
- With 52 points through 32 games, the Claret-and-Cobalt sits in first-place in the West, one point ahead of Seattle, which has a game in hand on the Utah side.
- RSL is tied with Sporting Kansas City for second-place in the Supporters’ Shield standings, one point behind the New York Red Bulls for the top spot. RSL, SKC and New York have all played 32 games, while Seattle and Portland – which are two and three points behind New York, respectively – have both played 31 games.
- Real Salt Lake is tied for third with Kansas City in the points per game standings. New York leads the league with 1.66 points per game, Seattle is in second with 1.65 and RSL and SKC are in third with 1.63.
- Pending results in Sunday’s Portland-Seattle contest and LA’s home game against Montreal on Oct. 16, RSL could potentially clinch a top-two seed in the West with a win at Portland on Oct. 19.
It’s setting up to be a wild last month. Buckle up.
Most teams around the league struggle against MLS’s three Cascadian clubs. It’s not hard to see why: Seattle, Portland and Vancouver all have deep pockets, talented rosters, strong support, and play on difficult-to-deal with turf fields.
Of course, most teams around MLS aren’t Real Salt Lake.
The Claret-and-Cobalt has been dominant against the three Cascadian clubs over the last two seasons, posting a 10-2-4 record in all competitions against the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps since the start of 2012. RSL is unbeaten against the three sides so far this year, posting 4-0-2 record through four home games and two road matches against them in all comps.
RSL has also been very solid when playing on the road at Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, currently riding a four-game unbeaten streak in Cascadia. The Claret-and-Cobalt has a combined 2-1-4 road mark at the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps since the start of 2012.
Jason Kreis and Co. will put their solid run against the Cascadian clubs on the line this Friday, when they take on Seattle Sounders FC in a battle of the West’s top two teams at CenturyLink Field. Friday’s match – which has huge implications for both the Supporters’ Shield race and MLS Cup Playoff seeding – will kick off at 8:00 p.m. MT and will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network.
Should RSL earn a fifth-straight result in the Pacific Northwest on Friday, it'll have to do it in front of a huge crowd. Seattle – which usually restricts attendance at CenturyLink Field to a little under 40,000 – has opened up the entire stadium for Friday’s affair, with full capacity reaching upwards of 67,000.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) September 11, 2013
One last note: RSL’s 18 road points this year are tied for tops in the league with Kansas City, while Seattle enters Friday’s match on a team record 12-game regular season unbeaten streak at home.
Something could very well give on Friday. Make sure you tune-in to see it all unfold.