RSL Faces Critical Road Challenge With Playoff Implications

Sep 27, 2018, 5:44 PM | Updated: Oct 9, 2018, 5:53 pm
Photo courtesy of the Real Salt Lake Facebook Page...
Photo courtesy of the Real Salt Lake Facebook Page

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Real Salt Lake will face rival Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, with playoff positioning making it a crucial match. RSL will look to get back in the win column, following their 2-0 loss at Atlanta last week.

RSL lost their first match in over a month, which was a four game span. They are fighting for a playoff spot, currently sitting in sixth place in the Western Conference with four games remaining.

Sporting KC has won two of their last three matches to bring them to a 15-8-6 record, good for second place in the Western Conference with five games remaining. They lost their last match to the Philadelphia Union, 2-0 on the road.

“Just getting into the playoffs is absolutely the number one priority no matter where we get in.”

Kansas City A Tough Place To Play

SKC is has a strong record in front of the home crowd at 9-2-3, winning their last three games.

Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke is very complimentary in the Kansas City supporters.

“While it’s not going to be 70,000 (in Atlanta), I do enjoy playing in Kansas City because of the environment,” he added. “They just create something so special, the way that the team plays there. Gets the crowd really into it.”

RSL is struggling on the road this season, with a 3-10-2 record, losing two of their last three away from home.

The Playoff Race

In a very critical portion of their schedule, Real Salt Lake can’t afford to lose many games leaving a small margin for error.

“Just getting into the playoffs is absolutely the number one priority no matter where we get in,” says Petke. “Then obviously, the second is to climb up as much as we can to get some home field advantage.”

RSL has 45 points, one point ahead of the LA Galaxy for the last spot in the West. They are two points behind the Seattle Sounders for fifth place and three points behind the Portland Timbers for fourth place.

Sporting Kansas City is still sitting comfortably in second place with 52 points, only two points behind Conference leading FC Dallas.

Real Salt Lake Success Against SKC

Real Salt Lake is unbeaten in their last three games against Sporting, all at home. Last MLS match was a 4-2 win on July 4 at home was the only meeting between the two teams this season. Forwards Jefferson Savarino, Corey Baird, Sebastian Saucedo and Luis Silva found the back of the net in that match.

Petke is keeping his teams’ attention on one thing this week.

“We are focused on our immediate goal which is to get a result in Kansas City and climb up the points and get in the playoffs.”

Brothers Collide

The Besler parents have a little conflict on Sunday. Both of their boys will be on the pitch but wear different jerseys. Nick is a defender for Real Salt Lake in his first season with the club. He spent 2017 with RSL’s USL club, Real Monarchs. Matt Besler has been with Sporting Kansas City with 2009 and is their starting center back. He has appeared in 47 games for the United States Men’s National Team. Matt (31) and Nick (25) are six years apart.

Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City will square off on Saturday. First kick from Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City will be at 3 p.m. on FS1.

  • Real Salt Lake Scoreboard

  • Real Salt Lake Team Leaders

  • Real Salt Lake Standings

Real Salt Lake

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RSL Faces Critical Road Challenge With Playoff Implications