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Playoff Preview: RSL needs points over Portland

With just three matches left, it’s all coming to a head.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Sporting KC Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Well! Saturday’s here and I know you’re all just so excited to watch Real Salt Lake take on Portland Timbers tonight.

Rightly so. But before then, we need to — and you’re not going to like this — we need to cheer for, uh, Sporting Kansas City.

Yeah. I know.

OK, so strictly speaking, we don’t need to, but we’d be crazy not to.

Let’s quickly go through the games today and how the Western Conference could shake out.

Current West standings

MLS Western Conference standings as of Oct. 6

# Club PTS PPG GP W L T GF GA GD
# Club PTS PPG GP W L T GF GA GD
1 FC Dallas 54 1.8 30 15 6 9 49 38 11
2 Sporting Kansas City 52 1.73 30 15 8 7 55 37 18
3 Los Angeles Football Club 50 1.67 30 14 8 8 58 46 12
4 Portland Timbers 48 1.55 31 13 9 9 46 45 1
5 Seattle Sounders FC 47 1.57 30 14 11 5 41 32 9
6 Real Salt Lake 46 1.48 31 13 11 7 50 50 0
7 LA Galaxy 44 1.42 31 12 11 8 60 59 1
8 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 40 1.33 30 11 12 7 47 59 -12
9 Minnesota United FC 36 1.2 30 11 16 3 45 58 -13
10 Houston Dynamo 35 1.17 30 9 13 8 50 45 5
11 e - Colorado Rapids 24 0.8 30 6 18 6 32 59 -27
12 e - San Jose Earthquakes 20 0.65 31 4 19 8 47 66 -19

Important matches

  • Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 3 p.m. — Vancouver is six points behind us, so a swing across two matches could put us just three points ahead of them. That’s a dangerous position to be in, given our road form.
  • Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy, 6:30 p.m. — I know it seems like LA Galaxy should be out, especially after we beat them 6-2, but they are literally just two points behind us and there are just three matches left. Gulp.
  • Colorado Rapids vs. LAFC, 7 p.m. — Yeah, we probably won’t catch LAFC, but if we win tonight, we’d be just one point back from them.
  • RSL vs. Portland Timbers, 7:30 p.m. — The big one. With a win, we pass them in the table. With a loss, we may be stuck in sixth. Want more? Check out our slate of coverage on the home page.
  • Seattle Sounders vs. Houston Dynamo, Monday @ 8:30 p.m. — Thanks, NFL, for this timing. They’re calling it “Monday Night Futbol” over at MLS, which is my least favorite thing this week, but whatever.

Less important matches

  • Philadelphia Union vs. Minnesota United FC, 5:30 p.m. — Unless Minnesota goes on a massive run and we fail at every asking (and the same goes for LA and Vancouver), Minnesota’s stuck outside the playoff zone.
  • FC Dallas vs. Orlando City, 6 p.m. — this matters for top-of-table stakes, but it won’t impact us. We won’t end up at the top.

Potential outcomes

RSL is below the red line in the case of ...

  • RSL loss (46pts), LA win (47pts)

RSL can move into fourth if ...

  • RSL win (49 pts), Seattle ties or loses (48 or 47 pts)

RSL can move into fifth if ...

  • RSL draws (47 pts), Seattle loses (47 pts)
  • RSL wins (49 pts), Seattle wins (50 pts)

RSL stays in sixth if...

  • RSL draws (47 pts), Seattle wins (50 pts)
  • RSL loses (46 pts), LA draw or lose (44 or 45 pts)