SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – With just two games left in the MLS regular season, Real Salt Lake has some work to do if they’re going to make the playoffs.
RSL is tied with San Jose, and trails FC Dallas by one point for the final spot in the Western Conference.
So does that make these last two games at Colorado and at home against Sporting Kanas City must-wins?
“It is a must win, for sure,” said RSL midfielder Albert Rusnak. “I saw that Dallas is one point ahead of us. They’ve got a tough game at Seattle and we’ve got a tough game at Colorado, so I think if we want to make it to the playoffs, we have to win both games.”
“I don’t like saying must-win,” said RSL head coach Mike Petke. “Winning is not a must. But having said that, I would agree with Albert’s assessment that we need six points.”
RSL already has two wins over the Rapids this year to claim the Rocky Mountain Cup. But Colorado has nothing to play for, which means they have nothing to lose.
“We know the rivalry between Colorado and us,” Rusnak said. “They’re one of the teams that we play three times this year. We’ve already beaten them twice, there and at home, so it’s kind of a good feeling. But we know this will be a different game.”
In RSL’s last game against the L.A. Galaxy, which was eliminated from playoff contention a while go, the game went down to the final seconds, and Real salvaged an important point on a goal by Kyle Beckerman.
“They’re very similar to L.A. in the mentality that a lot of people are saying they didn’t make the playoffs, this and that,” Petke said. “But this is a dangerous team to go up against. It’s very difficult to win once in this league. To win twice is very difficult, and to win three times against the same team is very difficult.”
RSL currently owns the tiebreaker over Dallas and San Jose.
As for USA soccer’s embarrassing loss last night to Trinidad and Tobago, which kept them out of the World Cup for the first time since 1986, all MLS coaches are examining how they can help turn the national team around.
“I belive that U.S. Soccer has the resources, so we have to look very deep at what went wrong,” Petke said. “Not just for 90 minutes last night, but for the last five, ten, fifteen years, whatever it’s been. Our talent pool has been very good, and to sugar coat it a little bit, sometimes it just doesn’t go your way.”