Real Salt Lake 0 Chicago Fire 3 - playing for the wildcard match thoughts

Well, I am not sure how the wheels have come off so far in just 7 days but clearly something has happened.  First this match was going to be decided by the first goal and it was simply poor defense to let a guy like Marco Pappa have that much room in your final third.

Kyle Beckerman lost his composure there is no doubt about it, but had the whistle blew for the clear clip at his ankle perhaps it never happens.  There is no excuse and I have little doubt that Kyle will likely see 2 additional matches for his actions. I will say that from the first whistle I knew this type of thing might happen, there was some early discrepancy in how the fouls were being called and that lasted the entire match.  No I am not saying that all the calls were one sided, I am saying the consistency in what was called a foul one time and not the next was simply a fact in this match.  RSL should be used to this by now and have to play within themselves, clearly Kyle was frustrated but there is no excuse for his behavior.  This isn't consistent with how Kyle plays and the only thing I can think of is that he thought Daniel Paladini was trying to injure him.  A stupid play.

The rest of my thoughts after the jump:

RSL had their chances and despite being down a man and a goal RSL actually kept more possession but they failed to covert their chances and that again cost them.  A close to offside pass and poor marking on Pappa allowed him to get the second goal on a great pass by Pavel Pardo.  

I do take issue with the third goal, as Pappa clearly fouled Chris Schuler as part of his run, I clearly saw him jump up and knock Schuler off his feet to get behind him and how that foul wasn't called is simply a shame. It wasn't going to make a difference in the outcome but it is typical of what I saw all night when something that is clearly a foul was overlooked and then something involved less contact was called a foul.  It is that level of inconsistency that upsets so many fans.

So the question is what has happened to RSL?  Did the run of 5 wins in ugly matches get them thinking they could just grind out results at the end of the season?  I am sorry but the effort hasn't been what is expected, there are no excuses about lineups, bad calls, the simple reality is that the effort hasn't been what is needed or what is expected.  There will be no catching of LA for the Supporters' Shield, but maybe the logic that was put out there earlier today on Twitter by @BrianStraus:

Would u rather finish 4th in West, host WC on Wed then host East No. 1 on Sun, or finish 3rd & play 2 games v Seattle? I'm thinking former.    

We know that Colorado can't catch RSL but we do know that FC Dallas could, here is how the standings look for that "coveted" 4th place in the West:

Real Salt Lake - 51 pts - 30 matches played
FC Dallas - 46 pts - 30 matches played
Colorado Rapids - 42 pts - 31 matches played

With this screwed up playoff format it could be better to finish in 4th place and move to the Eastern Conference than to finish in 3rd place in the West and face Seattle, or finish in second and face Seattle.  Perhaps the lackluster efforts the last couple matches are some masterful play to get back to the Eastern Conference, RSL proved in 2009 that they could switch conferences and not only make it to MLS Cup but win it.  

Yeah I know it is a stretch but do you have a better way to explain what has been some very uncharacteristic play in the last two matches?  Is it a move by RSL to try to undermine the chances of the New York Red Bulls to make the playoffs as both DC United and Chicago are chasing them and closing in quickly.

OFF MY SOAPBOX

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