I am sorry about getting this one up late, but I thought I would offer up a couple things for RSL fans to think about over the next couple weeks. I believe the race for the MLS Cup, the Supporters' Shield, and the top spot in the Western Conference final all are impacted by a potential perfect storm for RSL.
The LA Galaxy are coming off a flat second half against Chivas USA on Sunday, they then flew to the East coast where they will face a very energetic Philadelphia Union side that would love nothing better than to add a feather to their cap by beating LA and their precious Landycakes and Golden Balls. A tough challenge and in my perfect storm this one ends up a 1-1 draw. Giving LA 54 points with two matches remaining.
This weekend the Colorado Rapids will head down to Dallas to face off against the "hottest team" in MLS, easy enough the Rapids know they need some points to avoid a end of season let down that could hold them out of the playoffs, FC Dallas will be without Brek Shea and Heath Pearce who both are with the USMNT. Mad at not being called up again, Conor Casey goes wild and FC Dallas does what they seem to do most weekends a 2-2 draw. FC Dallas ends with weekend with 50 points and Colorado hits 42.
Real Salt Lake look to do what they have never done before win a road match against the New York Red Bulls, and in a year when RSL has made a lot of history they do just that with a 2-1 win on a last minute header by Nat Borchers (hell it has been good enough the last couple weeks, why stop now) and RSL ends the weekend with 54 points tied with the LA Galaxy. This my friends is what happens when a cold front hits a hot front, friction, high winds, some thunder and lightning.
After week 28
RSL -54 points
LA Galaxy - 54 points (57 adjusted- because Philly couldn't finish despite deserving the draw)
FC Dallas -50 points
Colorado - 42 points
The storm intensifies after the jump:
Week 29 will resemble a hurricane, there is plenty of notice of the impending storm, heck since the middle of July Real Salt Lake has been looking forward to this weekend. For Colorado they have seen it coming since the start of the year but now the match at the Home Depot Center takes on the energy of the X-games as Colorado will look to lock in their playoff dream and try to keep themselves in the Western Conference for the playoffs.
RSL hasn't lost at "El Castillo" in over a year, and with the added spark of getting revenge on the only team to beat them since April, we should expect fireworks. FC Dallas will come in with a weapon of mass scoring as Jeff Cunningham will probably be looking to set a new MLS all time leading scorer record against a team he feels wronged him. Yes this one has the classic look of a frantic whirlwind first half, with a brief break as the eye passes at halftime and a wild and crazy second half as the damage simply intensifies as the eye wall passes. This is a clash of a season long unbeaten streak at home and the longest unbeaten streak of the season and one of them is going to fall, and it is going to be the unbeaten streak of FC Dallas as RSL wins this one 2-0.
The storms won't be limited to the Salt Lake Valley, with a bit less intensity can the Rapids run hot enough to use their offense to further expose the questionable defense of the LA Galaxy? I am going to go out on a limb here and pick an upset as Colorado gets a 2-1 win as they simply don't want to have to face RSL on the final weekend without the knowledge that they are secure in their playoff spot (no last week heart break this year).
Real Salt Lake - 57 points
Los Angeles Galaxy - 54 points (57 adj)
FC Dallas - 50 points
Colorado - 45 points
There is a force of nature so strong that the mere mention of a F5 is enough to cause fear and panic in people and the final weekend will be just such a force of nature as FC Dallas will head to earthquake and coming off their first defeat in months of action they will be looking to establish some momentum heading into the playoffs. It of course will be more than that as it is likely that they will be playing the team they will face in the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs and that will mean an all out brawl that could like turn the fault lines active. This one ends with a 2-2 final score as both sides find out that the road to MLS Cup is going to be a war.
When MLS schedules the final weekend you know it will include Real Salt Lake facing off against Rocky Mountain rival the Colorado Rapids, and no matter the standings, no matter the lineups, no matter what this match will be an emotional one for both the players and fans. When the cold wind of several hundred RSL fans comes rushing out of the mountains down towards Denver it is going to cause a reaction and most likely it is going to be one that includes a lot of energy on from both sides, that energy will grow until kickoff time and then be released in the stands and on the pitch. Neither side wants to lose, and for RSL the stakes are likely going to be higher as they will be fighting for the best record in MLS, but Colorado will have a vested interest in the match as the outcome could determine their playoff fate, will they play in the West (meaning less travel and easier trips for their fans) or will they be relegated to fight for the Eastern Conference crown? This one like the last match between the teams will likely come down to the final minutes as RSL pulls out a 3-2 win.
Real Salt Lake - 60 points
Los Angeles Galaxy - 55 points (58 adj)
FC Dallas - 51 points
Colorado - 45 points
The fates of these 4 teams are so intertwined at the end of the MLS season and I believe that RSL controls their own future (each of the teams) and like the last weekend of 2009 when it took a perfect storm to get RSL into the playoffs, this year it will be a perfect storm leading them to the 2010 Supporters' Shield.
Oh the storm will continue, the playoffs offer up a chance for orange ball soccer, and nothing is more fun that the orange ball.
OFF MY SOAPBOX