Following the release of the 2018 MLS Regular Season schedule this morning, a lot of Real Salt Lake fans quickly realized that RSL is not playing on “Decision Day” this year.
Decision Day is branded by Major League Soccer as the biggest games of the year and the day that decides which teams will be in the playoffs. A lot of Real Salt Lake fans were worried when discovering RSL won’t be playing this year on Decision Day. However, how important is it actually to be playing that day?
If the season goes as we all hope, come Decision Day it shouldn’t matter what happens, because hopefully, we’ll have already secured a spot in the playoffs.
This is why it won’t matter if RSL is playing on October 28.
#1: We’ve got passionate players
At the end of last season we were just getting better. We were growing a fire inside of us. The fire was just ignited a little too late to sneak us into the playoffs, but we have a hungry and determined squad that has a bit of a sour taste in their mouth after last season, and they want vengeance on the Western Conference.
#2: Playing our kids
Last season, RSL had more minutes played by players age 21 and younger than any other team in the league, and that experience is going to put RSL ahead of the other teams, not just for this season but for seasons to come. Playing your youth is the key to having a successful postseason: Just look at what Atlanta United has started to build with players like Miguel Almiron and Yamil Assad, both 23 years old.
#3: An invested coach
Fresh off an adventure in Africa, Mike Petke is going to come into preseason and regular season with high expectations and low tolerance for failure. He is a winner and he doesn’t want to be apart of a team that’s not going to win. Petke will push his guys to be the best they can. If anyone is capable of making a team a playoff team, it’s Mike Petke.
#4: End of season schedule
Although we don’t play on Decision Day, we do play two of our last three games at home, which will be huge going into the playoffs. We end our season with four of the last six being against Western conference opponents, which means six-point-swing games. The home stretch of the season is pretty favorable for RSL.
#5: RSL’s offseason signings
So far this offseason RSL has been making some big signings. The first being Brooks Lennon signing permanently. Lennon is a kid with a lot of hunger to score and get minutes, him feeling like this is his home should make him even more determined, getting more goals and more points in the standings. As well as Lennon, we signed Alfredo Ortuño. He too has a knack for goalscoring, with 17 goals in the last 40 games. These two attacking threats will help RSL to add on more and more points throughout 2017.
So worry not, RSL fans, this is going to be a good season. We’ve made the right moves and got the right people to get the job done, far before Decision Day games are even played.