The regular season in Major League Soccer has come to an end, with Decision Day providing drama throughout the league as teams fought for playoff positions. With the postseason comes a new adventure for Real Salt Lake as the Claret-and-Cobalt readies to face the LA Galaxy on Wednesday at the StubHub Center in the Knockout Round.
“Now we have a new season,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said. “We are looking forward to just going out there with nothing to lose and see if we can make a run.”
That devil-may-care attitude will take the sixth-seeded Real Salt Lake (12-12-10, 46 points) into LA to face the Galaxy (12-6-16, 52 points) for the fifth time in the postseason after matchups in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014. This season, the two clubs have met twice, with LA scoring a 5-2 win at home on April 23, and RSL coming back to earn a draw at Rio Tinto Stadium on September 7.
While there may be some things to take from those two matches this season, Head Coach Jeff Cassar doesn’t put too much stock in their influence on Wednesday’s playoff matchup.
“This is a new season. It doesn’t matter what happened two years ago, three years ago, four years ago … anything,” Cassar said. “This is a totally new game. We’re not going to take anything from history into this game and that’s the way it should be.”
Real Salt Lake has made the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons, with last year being the one-year hiatus. With Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Javier Morales, Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran around for all eight postseason appearances, the team has the experience to now the ins and outs of a playoff run, twice reaching MLS Cup and lifting the league’s biggest prize in 2009 after a penalty kick shootout against the Galaxy.
In finishing sixth, RSL slipped in the last two months of the season, going without a win since August 26 when a victory over the Colorado Rapids catapulted Salt Lake to second in the league. Even with that seven-game run, the team has confidence that the corner is about to be turned.
“At this point, sixth, third, it doesn’t matter,” midfielder Luke Mulholland said. “I’ve got the confidence in myself and the players in our squad to go into LA and get the result.”
Kickoff Wednesday is slated for 8:30 p.m. MT, with live television coverage on KMYU locally and Unimas nationally.