RSL Controls Destiny Entering Final Four Matches

Oct 27, 2021, 2:52 PM
Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake...
Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake

In spite of disappointment expected and understood after the most recent weekend in Chicago, Real Salt Lake arrives in Dallas Wednesday in full control of its MLS Cup Playoff destiny, as Interim Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni’s side boasts an extra game yet to be played in a very crowded Western Conference postseason picture. While the Club’s margin for error is nearly exhausted, that fourth game – one of two home and two away matches remaining this year – gives RSL a nearly 70% probability of qualifying for the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, despite its current position of ninth in the West, two below the playoff line.

The 0-1 loss at Chicago Saturday – combined with numerous results during a midweek bye three days earlier – allowed LA Galaxy, Minnesota United and the Vancouver Whitecaps to leapfrog RSL and drop the Claret-and-Cobalt from fifth place to eighth. LAFC pulled past RSL and Vancouver with last night’s 3-0 win over Seattle, further congesting a glut of six teams vying for four West playoff spots, the sextet of Portland, LA Galaxy, Minnesota, Vancouver, RSL and LAFC separated by just four points entering the final games of the 2021 regular season to be played in the next 12 days. San Jose is also mathematically alive, four points adrift.

RSL’s trip to the North Texas MetroPlex Wednesday against already-eliminated FC Dallas (5:30 p.m. MT, KMYU / KSL TV app / ESPN700 / LaGranD 104.3 FM) arrives amidst a stretch of three games in eight days this week and five games in the 2021 campaign’s final 16 days for Mastroeni, who assumed the Club’s Head Coaching reins back on August 27 when Freddy Juarez departed for Seattle.

The Mastroeni Tenure

During Mastroeni’s 55-day tenure, Real Salt Lake has posted a 5-5-0 overall record (W-L-T), with a sparkling 4-0-0 mark at its Rio Tinto Stadium home and a dismal 1-5-0 road record as part of its overall 3-10-2 away ledger this season. However, RSL is a perfect 4-0-0 under Mastroeni in games immediately following a loss, rebounding to capture the full three points in the 90 minutes after each setback, feats emblematic of the grit, guile and poise exhibited by the current group.

In mid-September, RSL recovered from a 2-3 loss at LAFC – in a match many felt the result did not match the performance – to win 4-3 three days later at San Jose in electric fashion, with multiple come-from-behind moments. That Bay Area road recovery was quickly one-upped by an unexpectedly dominant 1-0 home victory over Seattle to finish that week, the lone back-to-back wins of the Mastroeni era.

One RSL Away Win, Ever

In a game at Dallas Wednesday where history does not matter – RSL with just one all-time win at Dallas in 20 MLS games there, posting a 1-14-5 combined mark in League regular-season and playoff matches – the Claret-and-Cobalt have the opportunity to keep one Pablo mark – record following losses – completely flawless, setting up Saturday’s early afternoon “Trunk or Treat” match against San Jose (1:30p MT kickoff at Rio Tinto Stadium; for tickets, click HERE) to keep another – our home mark under his leadership – absolutely pristine.

Technically, based on the remaining schedules for currently-placed West teams 4-10, RSL’s extra “game in hand” arrives in precisely one week. On Wednesday night, Nov. 3, RSL hosts rival Portland Timbers FC on a night in which it will honor Club icon Kyle Beckerman for his stellar career, a game which the two sides could both need to either clinch a postseason berth or secure the highly sought West No. 4 seed, which allows the holder to host a first-round MLS Cup Playoff match. That match will be televised nationally on ESPN2, with 8:00 p.m. pregame festivities including various in-stadium and on-field ceremonies featuring Beckerman, who changed the Club’s culture and competitive makeup upon arrival on the Wasatch Front in July, 2007.

While the current position of 9th overall in the West might cause pessimistic expectations, RSL’s probability models and overall qualification math is helped by the fact that Portland, Minnesota, Vancouver and San Jose each play TWO of the other as part of their three-game final run-out, while both LA teams – the Galaxy and LAFC – each play West leader Seattle (no help from Sounders last night) and either 2nd-place Kansas City or 3rd-place Colorado, along with one of the six teams surrounding RSL in the current four through 10 group.

More Control Than You Think

This, RSL family and friends, is how destiny remains in Claret-and-Cobalt control. Much more control, than say, the Club’s 2009 position offered with four regular-season matches remaining.

Current Standings, remaining slates for the “glut of six” and a chronological MLS schedule (all times MT) can be found here.

6 teams for 4 spots separated by 4 points

  • RSL w/ 1 game in hand (2 over LAFC)
    • 2 home, 2 away
    • Wednesday @ DAL
    • Saturday v SJ
    • NEXT Wednesday 11/3 v POR (KB5 Night)
    • End of Season “Decision Day” 11/7 @ KC
  • RSL 5-5-0 under Pablo since Aug 27
  • RSL 4-0-0 under Pablo after a loss
  • RSL 4-0-0 at home under Pablo
  • RSL back-to-back wins only once under Pablo
    • 9/15 @ SJ + 9/18 v SEA
  • RSL 1 win in 20 all-time MLS matches in DAL
    • 1-14-5 combined reg.szn + playoffs



  • Wed v San Jose
  • 11/3 @ RSL
  • 11/7 v Austin
  • LAG
  • Wed @ KC
  • 11/1 @ SEA
  • 11/7 v MIN
  • MIN
  • Wed @ VAN
  • 10/31 v KC
  • 11/6 @ LAG


  • VAN
  • Wed v MIN
  • 11/1 @ LAFC
  • 11/7 v SEA
  • LAFC
  • 11/1 v VAN
  • 11/7 @ COL
  • SJ
    • Wed @ POR
    • Sat @ RSL
    • 11/7 v DAL


Wednesday, October 27

New England Revolution vs. Colorado Rapids, 5 p.m.

Atlanta United vs. Inter Miami CF, 5:30 p.m.

Columbus Crew SC vs. Orlando City SC, 5:30 p.m.

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union, 5:30 p.m.

FC Cincinnati vs. Nashville SC, 5:30 p.m.

D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls, 6 p.m.

FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m.

Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy, 6:30 p.m.

Portland Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 8 p.m.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Minnesota United, 8 p.m.

New York City FC vs. Chicago Fire FC, TBD

Saturday, October 30

New York Red Bulls vs. CF Montreal, 1 p.m.

Inter Miami CF vs. New York City FC, 1:30 p.m.

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 1:30 p.m.

Atlanta United vs. Toronto FC, 4 p.m.

Philadelphia Union vs. FC Cincinnati, 5:30 p.m.

D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew SC, 5:30 p.m.

FC Dallas vs. Austin FC, 6 p.m.

Sunday, October 31

Chicago Fire FC vs. New England Revolution, 11 a.m.

Houston Dynamo FC vs. Colorado Rapids, 1:30 p.m.

Orlando City SC vs. Nashville SC, 5:30 p.m.

Minnesota United FC vs. Sporting Kansas City, TBD

Monday, November 1

Seattle Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy, 8 p.m.

Los Angeles Football Club vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, November 3

New York Red Bulls vs. Atlanta United, TBD

CF Montreal vs. Houston Dynamo FC, 5:30 p.m.

Austin FC vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7 p.m.

Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 7

FC Cincinnati vs. Atlanta United, 1:30 p.m.

Columbus Crew SC vs. Chicago Fire FC, 1:30 p.m.

CF Montreal vs. Orlando City SC, 1:30 p.m.

Nashville SC vs. New York Red Bulls, 1:30 p.m.

New England Revolution vs. Inter Miami CF, 1:30 p.m.

New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union, 1:30 p.m.

Toronto FC vs. D.C. United, 1:30 p.m.

Colorado Rapids vs. Los Angeles Football Club, 4 p.m.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake, 4 p.m.

LA Galaxy vs. Minnesota United FC, 4 p.m.

Portland Timbers vs. Austin FC, 4 p.m.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas, 4 p.m.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 4 p.m.

  • Real Salt Lake Scoreboard

  • Real Salt Lake Team Leaders

  • Real Salt Lake Standings

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RSL Controls Destiny Entering Final Four Matches