Win Versus Sporting Kansas City On Decision Day & Real Salt Lake Qualifies For MLS Playoffs

Nov 5, 2021, 1:39 PM | Updated: 1:41 pm

Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake...

Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake must win versus Sporting Kansas City on Decision Day if they intend on participating in this year’s Major League Soccer playoffs.

It is that simple. Real Salt Lake win’s and they’re in. A draw does them no good, a loss likewise.

Amazingly, Real Salt Lake does not need any other help from other western conference teams despite losing their last two fixtures at home. The past week has been troublesome for Real Salt Lake who was beaten by San Jose 4-3 last weekend before being dismantled by Portland 3-1 midweek.

Real Salt Lake put themselves in a position to clinch a playoff spot. If they had won either of the last two games they would have already clinched a playoff position.

However, they were unable to accomplish so and are now faced with a win-or-go-home fixture on decision day.

Leak In Defense

Real Salt Lake has shown the ability to score goals under interim manager Pablo Mastroeni, but sadly they cannot stop conceding them as well. Mastroeni is adamant that in order to win games you must be actively trying to do so and to win games you must score goals.

However, the defensive shape of the team is not currently working in the 3-5-2 formation. Real Salt Lake has had a tendency to turn the football over in dangerous parts of the field and when they do so they are frequently conceding goals on the counter-attack. Blame the system if you like, but the poor turnovers are killing Real Salt lake at the minute.

Frustration is starting to reach a boiling point for the players. Captain Albert Rusnák was noticeably unhappy with his team’s inability to maintain possession following the most recent loss against Portland.

If Real Salt Lake hopes to have any chance at beating Sporting Kansas City this upcoming Sunday then they are going to be required to possess the football in a far safer manner. They cannot gift possession back to Sporting KC like they have shown a tendency to do as of late.

Under Mastroeni’s guidance, Real Salt Lake has played in games where they have shown the ability to defend. Most notably, when Freddy Juarez and the Seattle Sounders visited Rio Tinto Stadium on June 23rd. Real Salt Lake ended up winning that game 2-1 and completely altered the shape of the team for the closing 15 minutes of the game by dropping the backline deeper and deeper as the minutes ticked on by.

Sadly, positive defensive performances under Mastroeni have been few and far between. It does not happen often. Real Salt Lake is leaking goals and the back-three are not to blame. Poor turnovers have been the issue as of late.

Playing For The 1 Seed

Unfortunately, Sporting Kansas City still has something to play for which would suggest that Peter Vermes will likely call up a strong starting XI. Currently, Sporting KC finds themselves in the second seed, one point shy of conference leaders Seattle.

Sporting Kansas City will be looking to conclude the regular season atop the western conference and solidify themselves a first-round bye in the playoffs. They would be foolish not to fight for that extended break to begin their playoff campaign.

Real Salt Lake will need to be at their best if they are to pick up three points at Sporting Kansas City.

The odds are not in Real Salt Lake’s favor. This season, SKC has won nine games at home, drawn five, and only lost on two occasions. Those losses came against FC Dallas on July 31st and Seattle on September 26.

Sporting Kansas City, much like Real Salt Lake, failed to make a statement midweek when they traveled to Q2 Stadium in Austin. SKC fell 3-1 to Austin following a number of poor mistakes early in the game.

Real Salt Lake will look to capitalize on the lack of SKC form.

Earlier this season Real Salt Lake beat Sporting 3-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium following a brace from Rubio Rubin and a goal from Damir Kreilach. It was a dominant display from RSL who won in every meaningful statistical category.

Match Info

Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake will kick off at 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 7th.

The match will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports & KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.

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Win Versus Sporting Kansas City On Decision Day & Real Salt Lake Qualifies For MLS Playoffs