HERRIMAN — An up and down, yet productive first 30 games of the MLS season has set Real Salt Lake up with a great opportunity to control its playoff fate in the final four games of the season.
Now all it needs to do is finish.
The magic number to clinch one of the six playoff spots from the Western Conference is still up in the air, but Albert Rusnak heads into the final push believing RSL needs at least two more wins. Realistically, though, he doesn’t want to settle for just making the playoffs.
He wants the goal to be a top four finish, which might require points in every match, including Sunday’s nationally televised game at rival Sporting Kansas City (3 p.m., FS1).
“That’s what’s on our mind. Finishing fifth and sixth, yeah, in some ways it’s good, but in some ways you’re not likely to get to the next round cause you’ll have to play away one game to a tough team,” said Rusnak.
Coach Mike Petke isn’t worried about seeding at the moment.
“Until we have that ‘x’ next to our name that indicates that we’ve made the playoffs, our one and only goal is to make the playoffs, and then once we get that ‘x,’ then it’s about improving. If it comes down the last game of the season, then the ‘x’ will do,” said Petke.
While RSL fights to maintain or improve its current fifth-place standing, Kansas City is equally hungry as it sits two points behind FC Dallas for top spot in the Western Conference.
Coach Peter Vermes’s team has only lost two games at home all season, and its plus-16 goal differential at home is best in the West.
Recent road wins at Houston and Colorado, along with a respectable showing in last weekend’s loss at East-leading Atlanta, have Real Salt Lake believing it can secure road points at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday.
“Over the last month and a half our road form has gotten better, we’ve gotten got some results on the road, even the Atlanta game looking back on it there was some really good stuff that we did,” said Petke.
Real Salt Lake and Kansas City play somewhat similar styles in how they want to build up with the ball and then how they like to pressure without the ball. That was fairly evident at Rio Tinto Stadium back on July 4 when RSL prevailed in an entertaining 4-2 …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Sports News