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Hello, fourth place: What's with RSL's poor ends to seasons?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in five years, Real Salt Lake is set for a finish below third place in the Western Conference.

In 2009, RSL retrieved six from a possible 15 points to end the season, placing them nine points off the top in the league.

In 2010, RSL ended with three draws and two wins for nine of 15, sitting only three points from the top.

In 2011, it was two points from 15, ending 14 points outside the top — the furthest our finish has been thus far.

In 2012, they ended with a nice 11 points from 15, finishing a distance nine points off.

In 2013, we finished with eight from 15, ending three points from the top.

In 2014, we could finish with a maximum of seven points from the final 15 available, and we'll finish anywhere from six to 11 off the top spot.

The parity of MLS aside, RSL's continued disappointment in the final five matches of the season remains a sore subject.Twice, we've finished in positions just outside of a place that would see us win the Supporters Shield.

It's a shame, really. It's a trophy for which we've been yearning since we became a reputable team following the MLS Cup win of 2009, and time and time again, it's been something we've missed out on near the final point.

It's hard to explain our profligacy at this point of the season — most sides certainly don't excel in these circumstances, and while it would be nice if we did, it's not exactly a stretch of the imagination to say that we're not that abnormal. Still, we've got a team packed with veterans. If you'd expect anybody to perform well down the stretch, you'd think it could be players who have been there before.

We still have plenty of opportunity during the playoffs, and that's reassuring. We seem like a well-built team for that time of year, We seemed that way last year, too, and given we have a team that's basically of the same construction, maybe it's not too presumptuous to say that we could end up there again, if we play our cards right. After all, that's not about how you play in the last five games of the regular season, it's about how you play when the playoffs start.

Maybe a bit of disappointment in the last few games of the season will provide some impetus or drive toward that goal. Maybe it won't, instead proving a sharp stick in the eye rather than anything useful.