Monday, August 31, 2009

A Close Look at the Remaining Schedule

Real Salt Lake has 6 remaining games: 3 at home, and 3 on the road

2 of the games are against teams clearly in the playoffs (Chicago, Houston)

2 of the games are against teams clearly out of the playoffs (NYRB, FC Dallas)

2 of the games are against teams on the fringe of the playoffs (Colorado, TFC)

As previously mentioned, the current projected playoff cutoff is 43 points, meaning RSL would have to earn at least 10 points (11 to be safe) to ensure that they make the playoffs. Here is a look at the remaining RSL schedule, along with my thoughts on the matchups:

9/12: Chicago: Brian McBride could be back for this one. It’s still unknown how the Soumare transfer will impact them (and the turmoil that goes along with it). Chicago has a 22-15 (+7) goal differential on the road, best in the league. RSL has a 28-10 (+18) goal differential at home, also best in the league. Chicago’s incentive: they're chasing the Supporter’s Shield and playoff positioning. KIR prediction: RSL wins

9/19: @Houston: Weather more moderate in late-September taking away some of Houston’s extreme home-field advantage. Houston will be dealing with a back-to-back situation after playing at Pachuca in CCL action. Will the team have integrated Landin at that point? His scoring ability could make an already dominant team unbeatable. I just don’t see RSL getting consecutive road wins in this one. KIR prediction: Houston wins

9/26: @FC Dallas: it’s likely that FC Dallas will be officially out of the playoff hunt by this time. FC Dallas does maintain a 20-16 (+4) positive goal differential at home, which matches favorably to RSL’s dismal road record. However, I question whether this disappointed team will have any fight at this point in the season. KIR prediction: RSL wins

10/14: New York Red Bulls: Yes, NYRB have strung together successive wins for the first time all season. Yes, Richie Williams does seem to have some momentum going for his club. However, this is another team that will likely be eliminated from the playoffs at that point, and I just don’t see them having as much focus as RSL in this one. They have also suffered the most road goals in the league (23) while on scoring 2. Despite RSL being off for a 20-day stretch similar to last season, I think they’ll have what it takes for this mid-week matchup. KIR prediction: RSL wins

10/17: Toronto FC: Not only does RSL play this Saturday match after a Wednesday nighter, but this one is an early start (2PM Mountain). TFC will likely be chasing a playoff spot along with RSL. TFC is a difficult matchup at BMO field, and we know RSL’s road woes. Seems obvious, but ya never know. KIR prediction: TFC wins

10/24: Colorado: The Rocky Mountain Cup on the line. Potentially playoff spots on the line as well. Colorado has a 13-19 (-6) goal differential on the road, compared to RSL’s gaudy +18 home differential. But with Colorado’s potent attack, and with revenge in mind, it’s hard to see anything different in this one. This could end RSL’s season similar to Colorado’s experience a year ago. As much as I hate to… KIR prediction: draw

This would leave RSL with 43 points, and a 12-11-7 record - currently on-target for a playoff spot, but I think they could still fall a point or two short. Their best finish ever, but will it be good enough?

What are your thoughts?