In the midst of Real Salt Lake’s matchup with Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at Rio Tinto Stadium, Kyle Beckerman could see a scenario in which the crowd erupts in cheers during a throw-in late in the match. With all games around MLS kicking off at 2 p.m. MT on Sunday, fans will likely have their eyes on scores from around the league as playoff scenarios unfold.
Real Salt Lake enters Decision Day trailing both FC Dallas and the San Jose Earthquakes by one point for the sixth and final spot in the Western Conference for the MLS Cup Playoffs. If RSL wins against Sporting Kansas City and both Dallas and San Jose fail to win in their matches, Salt Lake will advance to the postseason for a ninth time in the last 10 seasons. Additionally, if RSL draws and both other clubs lose, the spot would go to the Claret-and-Cobalt in the tiebreaker.
So if RSL holds a late lead and scores update from those other two matches in Salt Lake’s favor, fans could give a pretty good indication of the club’s playoff fate.
“That’s kind of the excitement when you have all the games going on at the same time. You never know,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said on ESPN 700’s Bill Riley Show this week. “We’ve just got to go and take care of business in the game and get a win and hopefully the soccer gods are on our side on Sunday.”
While media debated whether or not it would be beneficial for the players to know the scores of the other matches, the players were relatively uniform in their feelings that they simply plan to go about their business on the field and find out later if they got the results needed in other matches to make the postseason.
“I think it’s best to win the game and after the game come into the locker room and see the other results,” midfielder Albert Rusnák said.
Added Brooks Lennon, “I’d rather focus on us and finishing out the last game of the regular season for us. It’s the last game of the regular season. We want to go out with a win. Regardless of the other results, we’re going to leave it all out there and do everything we can to get the win.”
While Head Coach Mike Petke entertained the idea of hearing scores – whether from staff or fans in the stands – ultimately, he knew that the primary focus will be on the result on the field at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“It doesn’t matter what’s happening in the other games,” he said tersely. “We have to win.”