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Playoff Preview: West crunch continues as RSL needs vital points

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Atlanta United FC Adam Hagy -USA TODAY Sports

It’ll be a huge weekend for Real Salt Lake, and not just in our Sunday match against Sporting Kansas City.

In the playoff race, the best we can hope for this weekend is a bump into fourth place, and the worst that could happen is a regression into sixth place. However, the limited movement in spaces isn’t reflective of the importance as the season comes down to the wire.

Here are the matches to which we’ll be paying our attention.

Saturday @ 2pm, Seattle Sounders (44 pts., 29 gp) vs. Colorado Rapids (out)

Seattle Sounders have lost two of their last two after winning an absolutely remarkable nine straight. (You could also say they’ve won 9 of their last 11, or you could say they’ve won 13 of their last 29. It’s all about how you spin it.) Colorado Rapids are wholly out of the playoffs now, so the Sounders clawing their way up will likely be on order. This would give them a chance to pass us up should we not win.

Saturday @ 8pm, LA Galaxy (41 pts., 30 gp) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (40 pts., 29 gp)

This is the big one. We need a draw here. It’s not quite desperate — neither team would pass us with a win — but it puts us closer to playoff demise, and that’s frankly unacceptable. It hurts that we don’t have complete control of this ourselves. Vancouver, with a win, would be within two points of us on 30 games played. We need wins, and we need them now.

Saturday @ 8:30pm, Portland Timbers (47 pts., 30 gp) vs FC Dallas (53 pts., 29 gp)

Alright! Should Portland lose, we have a chance to jump ahead. Should Portland win, fourth place might just be out of our greedy grasp. We could even technically reach FC Dallas, but let’s be honest with ourselves. There’s no chance that happens. (Technically, FC Dallas could still miss the playoffs. It’s not happening, but how weird is the West this year?)

Sunday @ 3pm, Sporting Kansas City (51 pts., 29 gp) vs Real Salt Lake (45 pts., 30 gp)

We have to win. If we want a playoff spot, we need points, and I’m frankly terrified about all this. What a world we live in.

Other games worth glancing at

Saturday @ 1:30pm, Chicago Fire (out) vs. LAFC (50 pts., 29 gp) — LAFC is five points ahead of us with a game in hand. We won’t pass them, but let’s watch to see where they land.

Saturday @ 6:30pm, Houston Dynamo (32 pts., 29 gp) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (out) — Houston’s practically out, but it’ll be fun to watch them flail around.