So you have to believe that when the schedule was announced that RSL's coaches and staff looked at August and thought, now this isn't going to be fun. I know as a RSL fan only having one match in the entire month at home, well it sucks. Now you add in the pressure of the poor start to the month in the 2-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City, and now you really have to think that if RSL is going to make a run to the top of the Western Conference (which means a run to the top of MLS) they are going to have to do some big things in their remaining matches this month.
RSL currently has 33 points from 20 matches and like everyone else they are chasing the LA Galaxy who have 45 points from 24 matches. That means for RSL to catch LA they need to be perfect in their 4 matches in hand, and given their last couple matches that seems like a bit of a stretch. Still only RSL and FC Dallas could catch the Galaxy if they were to get wins in all their matches in hand.
Last year RSL had a landmark moment in the middle of July when they lost 2-0 at FC Dallas, from that point on they didn't lose another match, at home or on the road in the regular season. I believe the team will need to do the same thing after their Wednesday loss at Sporting KC, their may be room for one more loss but the team will need to get some big wins, including a number on the road.
So what does the month of August hold for RSL?
Real Salt Lake 0 - Sporting KC 2
Not the start to the month that the team needed, and not what I expected but if they can use this match as their rally cry and go on a run over the last 14 matches of the season, well then maybe some good things can happen.
the rest of August after the jump:
New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake - 8/6/2011 at 7pm MT - Direct Kick
So I have to say that this is one of the top 4 matches left on the RSL schedule, and the only one at home. It is a match that simply the team must win, if they want to keep their shots at the top of the table alive. Wins against playoff caliber teams are huge this time of year and with the Red Bulls struggling a bit in league play. Now the Red Bulls got a much needed boost of confidence in the recent performance in the Emirates Cup, but with a trip back from the UK, and then a trip to Utah all within the last couple days it might be more than they can handle. They are also (like RSL) dealing with some injury issues. For RSL this is as big as it will get at Rio Tinto until the playoffs.
Real Salt Lake at Toronto FC - 8/13/2011 at 5pm MT - Direct Kick
In the past you would say that TFC is too tough at home to get a win against but this year they are 3-4-5 at home and for RSL it may be their best chance at getting 3 points on the road this month. RSL will need to overcome a team that has made more changes to their roster this year than any other team, and while the results are still lacking for Toronto they have added some good talent. RSL needs to strike while the striking is good, it may also play to RSL's favor that TFC have a Champions League match on 18th and might be looking forward to that since their MLS season is perhaps beyond recovery.
Real Salt Lake at Houston Dynamo - 8/20/2011 at 6:30pm MT - Direct Kick
Over the last 3 years these two teams have simply battled each other, and honestly I don't believe either side likes the other side. Going to Houston in mid August is no treat as the weather is likely to be brutal and Houston has been good at home 6-3-3 so far this year.
Real Salt Lake at Chivas USA - 8/27/2011 at 8:30pm MT - Direct Kick
Perhaps no team has been more of a mixed bag in 2011 than Chivas USA, RSL has had some success at the Home Depot Center in recent year and as of today Chivas is 4-4-4 at home this year. You have to believe this is a match that RSL will be looking at trying to get all 3 points out of, given the circumstances of their first meeting this year, some revenge for Javi might be on the menu.
So before the match against Sporting I thought RSL would need to find a way to get 10 points out of their August matches, that now seems like a tough task but not out of the question. Can they find a way to regroup and go on a run in the dog days of summer? We will find out on Saturday night when the Red Bulls come to town.
One upside for the rest of the season for RSL is that the 4 teams in front of them in the Western Conference will all be in CONCACAF Champions League group play, that means 6 additional matches for them, including some long flights out of the country. This might just be something that could play into RSL's advantage.
OFF MY SOAPBOX