After the weekend’s results, the road to the top three in the West is clear for Real Salt Lake. If the side manages at least five points, they will clinch at least third place and avoid the first round of the playoffs.
Jason Kreis’ team is healthy and ready to go for the final stretch, but getting five points over the next three matches won’t be easy. Salt Lake will play on the road at the Los Angeles Galaxy and at the Seattle Sounders FC, before hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps in the season finale.
Salt Lake has succeeded in these situations before. The side won on the road against both LA and Seattle this season, and they defeated Vancouver at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Los Angeles may be without central defender AJ Delagarza for Saturday’s clash, which would be a help for Salt Lake, though the Galaxy have been playing very well of late.
Salt Lake will not have to deal with a three-match week for the remainder of the season, though they will play three in 11 days when Herediano is sandwiched between a road trip to Seattle and the final regular season match against Vancouver.
In contrast, LA will play three in eight days, while Seattle will play four matches in two weeks to conclude the season.
Help From the Weekend
This good situation is largely the result of a fortunate weekend. While Real Salt Lake was beating up on Chivas USA, both LA and Seattle left points on the board. Los Angeles earned a 1-1 draw in Colorado, while Seattle and Vancouver were scoreless at BC Place.
Momentum is Key
Real Salt Lake proved in 2009 that a good run in the playoffs is possible for each participant. Salt Lake will almost certainly play its first playoff competition in the next two weeks, which will give them an opportunity to send a message and build momentum.
The resulting confidence or frustration might not matter, but it could be the difference moving forward.