Real Salt Lake looking to clinch playoff berth on Sunday
With a win on Sunday at Chivas USA, Real Salt Lake will be able to clinch a seventh-straight playoff berth – the longest active streak in the league. A win in Southern California would also place the Claret-and-Cobalt one victory away from reaching the 15-win and 50-point plateaus for the fifth consecutive season.
Seattle Sounders FC (18-9-3, 57 points) and LA Galaxy (16-5-9, 57 points) have both clinched playoff berths, leaving just three open spots in the postseason. RSL currently sits third in the west with 49 points, with FC Dallas close behind with 48 and one more win than the Claret-and-Cobalt. Vancouver Whitecaps FC occupies the final playoff spot with 40 points, but also has Portland Timbers nipping at its heels with 39 points.
The Western Conference playoff picture can get either clearer or murkier after this weekend, with Vancouver hosting FC Dallas and Portland travelling to San Jose on Saturday, before RSL takes on Chivas USA on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. MT on CW30.
Can the Claret-and-Cobalt restore its road dominance over Chivas?
Real Salt Lake will look to restore its road dominance of Chivas USA on Sunday after falling to the SoCal club at StubHub Center in their first meeting of the year for the first time since 2009. Prior to the Claret-and-Cobalt’s 1-0 loss on June 28, RSL had five consecutive wins over the Red-and-White in California. Real Salt Lake is 12-11-4 against Chivas USA all-time in the regular season with a 6-8-1 regular season road record.
Chivas USA struggled mightily this year and is currently on a seven-game losing streak, with its last result coming on Aug. 16, a scoreless draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Goats have only notched four goals (all v. Seattle) since that Vancouver contest.
What will RSL’s lineup look like on Sunday?
In RSL’s last match, a 2-1 defeat at Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Real Salt Lake head coach Jeff Cassar made five lineup changes from its previous match against Colorado, a 5-1 win at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, defenders Tony Beltran and Chris Schuler, midfielder Ned Grabavoy and forward Sebastian Jaime were not included in the starting XI, with only Grabavoy and Jaime making the trip to Canada. RSL defenders Carlos Salcedo and Abdoulie Mansally filled in on the back line, while veteran center back Nat Borchers returned from suspension. RSL midfielder Luis Gil started at the left side of the diamond while striker Alvaro Saborio earned his first start back from injury up top. With RSL deciding to rest some of its regular starters in Vancouver, Cassar should have a full arsenal of healthy players to choose from for Sunday.
Real Salt Lake also produced a strong performance out a makeshift lineup in Tuesday’s friendly against Sacramento Republic FC. Both forward Robbie Findley and midfielder Sebastian Velasquez netted goals, while defender Rich Balchan put in an excellent showing at right back, earning the assist on Velasquez’s tally.
Real Salt Lake coaches and players have been vocal this week about that fact that lowly Chivas USA shouldn’t be taken lightly. Cassar will hopefully be able to put out what he thinks is RSL’s most dangerous lineup for a much needed, playoff clinching win.
Will Sunday be RSL’s last match at Chivas USA?
Recent reports have surfaced that Chivas USA will be shut down at the end of the 2014 season and will be up for sale. It is expected that the club will remain closed for two years while it takes the time to find new owners and fully rebrand. The club has struggled in recent years, which will now miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season with a current 6-18-6 record.
Real Salt Lake’s date in Carson on Sunday could be the last time the Claret-and-Cobalt square off with its fellow 2005 expansion team in California. RSL will face the Red-and-White one more time in its last game of the 2014 season on Oct. 22 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The latest episode of the Emmy-nominated MLS Insider Series takes a look at Real Salt Lake’s own Joao Plata. The excellent in-depth video explores Plata’s humble beginnings in Ecuador, his difficult transition to MLS with Toronto FC and his evolution into one of the most dangerous attackers in the league with Real Salt Lake. The speedy Ecuadorian has been indispensable for RSL this season, leading the Claret-and-Cobalt with 13 goals as the club is poised to clinch a seventh-straight playoff berth – the longest active streak in the league.
Check out the must-watch episode above.
Real Salt Lake will host 2014 USL PRO Champions Sacramento Republic FC tonight at Rio Tinto Stadium at 7:30 p.m. MT. The exhibition match will be streamed live on RealSaltLake.com with Bill Riley and Brian Dunseth with the call.
In anticipation of tonight's match, check out the highlights above from Sacramento’s 2-0 win over Harrisburg City Islanders last weekend that gave them the USL PRO Championship in the club’s inaugural season. The team is coached by MLS two-time scoring champion and former Chivas USA and Toronto FC head coach, Preki Radosavljević. The club’s roster also includes former Real Salt Lake forward Justin Braun.
Real Salt Lake will look clinch a playoff berth on Saturday, when it takes on Vancouver Whitecaps FC at 5:00 p.m. MT at BC Place on CW30.
The last time Real Salt Lake and the ‘Caps met in Vancouver, the Claret-and-Cobalt recorded its first-ever win at BC Place, a 1-0 victory on Sept. 28, 2013. The match saw a strong performance from a makeshift lineup with then-rookie forward Devon Sandoval notching the lone goal in the ninth minute. The win last year improved Real Salt Lake’s all-time road record in Vancouver to 1-2-1.
RSL and the Cascadia club have met twice before this year, with both matches ending in draws. In their first meeting of 2014 on April 26, the sides played to a wild 2-2 tie at Rio Tinto Stadium. The two clubs met again in Utah a few months later, playing to a 1-1 draw on July 19.
In anticipation of Saturday’s clash north of the border, check out the Sept. 28, 2013 match highlights above.
MLSsoccer.com released its annual “24 Under 24” list earlier today. Three Real Salt Lake players were named as some of the league’s top young prospects with forward Joao Plata earning seventh place, midfielder Luis Gil right behind in eighth and forward Olmes Garcia placing 21st. You can check out each player’s highlight videos and individual profiles below.
Think Plata should have placed higher? Did DeAndre Yedlin deserve the #1 spot? Share your thoughts on Twitter using the #24under24 hashtag.
RSL looks to clinch a playoff berth in Vancouver
Real Salt Lake will be able to clinch a playoff berth with a win or a draw on Saturday in Vancouver. If the Claret-and-Cobalt accomplish the feat, it will have qualified for the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season – the longest active streak in MLS.
Success hard to come by at BC Place
Real Salt Lake has had mixed results in Vancouver, posting a 1-2-1 road record at BC Place. The Claret-and-Cobalt’s first win in the Canadian city came last year, a 1-0 win on Sept. 28, 2013. RSL was able to pull off the win with a makeshift lineup and a lone goal scored by forward Devon Sandoval. RSL’s visit to Vancouver on Saturday will be the club’s first since the win last fall. Real Salt Lake has had a better all-time record against the ‘Caps, going 4-2-4 against the Cascadia Club. The Claret-and-Cobalt will also be facing a club on Saturday that is desperate for three points in order to stay alive in the playoff race. Vancouver will be looking to make the most of its home field advantage, so BC Place could be even more daunting for RSL on Saturday.
Can RSL make a run for Supporters’ Shield?
With just five games remaining in the regular season for the Utah club and just nine points separating the top six teams in the league, RSL will have to rack up the points if it wants to make a run for the Supporters’ Shield. Grabbing three points at Vancouver on Saturday will be critical for its chances to gain ground on Seattle Sounders FC and LA Galaxy who both sit above RSL with 54 points. Compared to the teams at the top of the table, Real Salt Lake has one of the easier stretches to end the season on paper. After facing a struggling Vancouver, RSL faces bottom-dwellers Chivas USA twice, along with San Jose Earthquakes who are in eighth place in the west and Portland Timbers who currently sit just above the red line with 39 points. Seattle finishes the season with clashes with Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, Vancouver and then back-to-back games with LA Galaxy. The Galaxy also faces some stiff competition before taking on the Sounders, with matchups against New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC and FC Dallas. If RSL can get a result at Vancouver on Saturday and close out the end of the season with wins, the Claret-and-Cobalt could have a good chance to snatch the Supporters’ Shield.
Real Salt Lake dominates MLSsoccer.com’s Plays of the Night segment this week, with three plays from its 5-1 thrashing of Colorado Rapids last Friday. Claret-and-Cobalt midfielder Luke Mulholland earned the 10th spot on the countdown with his nifty move around Colorado’s Jose Mari in the 54th minute. Real Salt Lake then dukes it out for the number one play of the night…with itself. MLSsoccer.com was torn between the buildup play for both RSL forward Joao Plata’s equalizer in the 32nd minute and the Colorado own goal in the 45th minute. With the two plays too hard to choose between, the fantastic combination play between Ned Grabavoy and Plata leading to the Ecuadorian’s 13th goal of the year, and the great dummy by Javier Morales and one-touch pass into the box from Sebastian Jaime that leads to the own goal, share the number one honor.
Check out the stunning plays in the video above.
In the wake of Real Salt Lake’s disappointing stoppage-time loss at Seattle Sounders FC last Friday, the fantastic buildup play that led to Javier Morales’ opening goal got a little lost. The lead up to the 30th minute goal was fantastic, with RSL putting together 16 passes to find the Argentine open in the box, who then put away his eighth goal of the year. The pass sequence continues to show why RSL is considered one of the best possession-based teams in the league and just how methodical the Claret-and-Cobalt can be when behind the ball. Unfortunately, the night did not end well for the visitors, but RSL will have the chance to bounce back this Friday, when it hosts a struggling Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium (8:00 p.m. MT, CW30) Check out the great sequence above.