Real Salt Lake starts their journey back to MLS Cup

2011 MLS Cup logo

Well if you just look at the numbers of 15 wins, 53 points and the number 3 overall spot in the MLS table you would think that the post season would be something that fans would feel confident about, that simply isn't the case this year. It could be the other numbers like 11 losses, 36 goals allowed, and that fact that our last win came over a month ago. For me the concern is that since that 4-1 win at the New York Red Bulls, RSL has scored just 3 goals in 6 matches and they have given up 13.  The fact that we allowed DC United to score 4 goals against us, a team that didn't even make the playoffs, or the 3 that Vancouver scored (yeah granted 2 were horrible PK calls), but you can even look to the Timbers match on Saturday where we allowed 15 shots and the only thing that saved us from losing a 4th at home this year was a errant PK shot.

Still there is a lot of hopeful signs as well, first RSL will get their captain back as Kyle Beckerman's stretch of international callups and suspension are over.  RSL can also take some comfort in the 90 minute performance of Will Johnson on Saturday and the fact that Tony Beltran is rapidly approaching full fitness.  There is also the rapidly improving on field performance of Javier Morales who is getting more and more like the player we saw before the injury, there is the incredible energy and passion that the team showed on Saturday as they hosted Portland in what was one of the most entertaining matches of the season.

So we are in the playoffs, we ended up with the #3 seed in the West a spot that almost ensures we will see Champions League action in 2012 (one of the teams goals for the year), but also one that provides us the most direct path back to MLS Cup.

What the journey will involve after the jump:

So a lot of people talked about how dropping to the number 4 spot and playing in the wildcard round and then moving to the Eastern Conference might have been the best thing for RSL, but they are wrong.  The fact that finishing in the number 3 spot will give us a 75% chance of making CCL next year was enough for me but then when you look at the potential matchups in the West, well those look good to me as well.

First RSL will face the Seattle Sounders, these teams have played each other 6 times since the Sounders joined the league and the teams are dead even as each has 2 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses in MLS action against each other.  The Sounders are a good team, there is no denying that, they pull in the largest crowds in MLS, they have an incredible front office and provide a blueprint of what other teams with NFL owners and who play in NFL stadiums should be doing.

However for all the hype there is a reality that the Sounders have played 4 MLS playoff matches since joining the league and they are 0-3-1 in those matches, the fact that they have scored just 2 goals in those 4 matches.  Now RSL had a great run in 2009, but last year it was RSL who was in that number 2 spot that had to play the number 3 team and that proved to be a difficult task as FC Dallas eliminated RSL before moving on to all the way to MLS Cup.

I said it before I like our chances against both the Sounders and the Galaxy (if they make it that far), we have matched up well against these two teams over the last two years and while our current form is less than what most of us would like, the reality is that you can expect everyone to step up as there are no second chances at this point of the season.  It is now just 4 positive results until we could see RSL lifting another MLS Cup.

OFF MY SOAPBOX (and back to the blackjack tables)

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