Looking back: RSL and form moving into the playoffs

George Frey

With the final match of the regular season creeping closer, Real Salt Lake fans will be furtively looking back on their calendars and weighing the possibilities and options in a historical context.

With the final match of the regular season creeping closer, Real Salt Lake fans will be furtively looking back on their calendars and weighing the possibilities and options in a historical context.

While much of the attention will be focused on the importance of the order of the home match in a home-and-away series, it is perhaps important to look back at form leading into the playoffs. Let's look at the final six games before the playoffs in the years in which we've made it.

2008: A first time for everything

Points gained, last six: 9/18

Sept. 20 - RSL 0-1 Chivas USA
Sept. 27 - San Jose 2-3 RSL
Oct. 4 - New England 2-2 RSL
Oct. 9 - RSL 1-1 NYRB
Oct. 18 - RSL 3-1 FC Dallas
Oct. 25 - Colorado 1-1 RSL: Yura Movsisyan scores the game-tying goal in the 90th minute, and we go through to the playoffs at the expense of Colorado. If the rivalry needed the fans flamed, there we have it.

2009: Real Salt Lake ekes into the playoffs, only to win the whole thing

Points gained, last six: 7/18

Sept. 12 - RSL 1-1 Chicago Fire
Sept. 19 - Houston 3-2 RSL
Sept. 26 - FC Dallas 3-0 RSL
Oct. 14 - RSL 2-0 NYRB
Oct. 17 - Toronto FC 1-0 RSL
Oct. 24 - RSL 3-0 Colorado: The match that changed it all. Again, we go through at the expense of Colorado.

2010: In and strong

Points gained, last six: 12/18

Sept. 18 - RSL 1-0 Chicago Fire
Sept. 25 - RSL 1-1 Colorado
Oct. 2 - New England 1-2 RSL
Oct. 9 - RSL 0-0 NYRB
Oct. 16 - RSL 2-0 FC Dallas
Oct. 23 - Colorado 2-2 RSL

For once, there's no late qualification drama. In our strongest regular season to date, we drop out in the first round of the playoffs.

2011: Limping in

Points gained, last six: 2/18

Sept. 24 - D.C. United 4-1 RSL
Sept. 28 - RSL 0-3 Chicago
Oct. 1 - LA 2-1 RSL
Oct. 6 - Vancouver 3-0 RSL
Oct. 14 - Colorado 0-0 RSL
Oct. 22 - RSL 1-1 Portland

This was not a fun run-in, to say the least.

2012: Coming in (reasonably) hot (or at least not tepid)

Points gained, last six: 10-13/18

Sept. 6 - Houston 1-0 RSL
Sept. 22 - RSL 2-1 Portland
Sept. 29 - Chivas USA 0-4 RSL
Oct. 6 - LA Galaxy 1-2 RSL
Oct. 17 - Seattle 0-0 RSL
Oct. 27 - RSL ?-? Vancouver

The final match of the season won't be packed with qualification drama, but it'll be essential for RSL to recover from any continental hangover moving in to the playoffs. A win would give them the most points they've gained moving into the playoffs - ever.

The biggest takeaway? The sample size is too small to really be an effective predictor of future playoff performance. Go figure - that's how statistics work sometimes.

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