Whether they admit it or not, there is a good deal of scoreboard watching involved in the final weeks of the Major League Soccer season as clubs jockey for position and for spots in the postseason. On Tuesday evening, Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jeff Cassar admitted not only watching the scoreboards around the league over the weekend, but pumping his fist when the New York Red Bulls scored twice late in the first half in a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Sunday.
That result brought RSL within three points of the Timbers for the sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference, and while Salt Lake needs to win its own matches to climb the charts further, it also needs some help from the results from the teams in those six playoff spots right now to reach that postseason goal. However, he also noted that there are other reasons to watch those matches closely, as RSL faces Western Conference foes in each of its final five regular season matches.
“It’s exciting. It’s exciting for our players as well. Everyone’s interested,” Cassar said on his weekly segment on The Bill & OC Show on ESPN 700. “We’re playing Portland in a couple of weeks, so we’re watching these games intently but we’re also watching them because we’ll be playing them very shortly.”
After consecutive nationally-televised road matches against the San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado Rapids, RSL will host the Timbers on October 14 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Following that, RSL closes out the season with a home meeting with FC Dallas before going on the road to face Seattle Sounders FC in the regular season finale.
RSL enters that stretch of matches with two consecutive victories in MLS play after a 3-1 road win over the Houston Dynamo and a 3-0 home victory against the LA Galaxy. However, the club hasn’t had a win-streak extend beyond two league matches this season, so adding to that run will be a new high watermark for the season.
“There have been a lot of streaks through most of the teams ahead of us where they’ve gone three, four or five games unbeaten. It’s been really streaky. We haven’t hit those streaks like we’ve needed to until now and we’re starting to move up the table and putting ourselves into position to get into the playoffs,” Cassar said. “The spirit of the team is really good right now and the health of the team is relatively good and that’s what we’re going to need to have a good last little stretch here.”
To hear the full interview, click here.