RSL aims for top-three finish against PortlandOct 21, 2011 - 9:14 PM Sandy, UT (Sports Network) - Real Salt Lake enters its final Major League Soccer match of the regular season against the Portland Timbers on Saturday with major playoff implications on the line.
The Rio Tinto outfit has already clinched a postseason berth, but the weekend's results will determine seeding. Real Salt Lake is currently tied with FC Dallas for the final automatic qualification spot in the Western Conference with 52 points apiece.
"Most teams don't have anything to play for coming down to this last game of the season," RSL midfielder Will Johnson told MLSsoccer.com. "But we're one of the lucky teams who have something to play for, and that's huge going into the playoffs."
A win for Real Salt Lake will secure third place in the West as well as a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Head coach Jason Kreis believes that a meaningful match to close the regular season will benefit his side ahead of the playoffs.
"Last year going into the last game of the season, it was a completely almost nothing game," Kreis told MLSsoccer.com. "It was an away game at Colorado and we played really, really poorly. You could see again a game where the right amount of motivation wasn't there, and that led to not enough commitment.
"When we play that way, we most of the time lose. We were very lucky to tie that one at the end, and we went into the playoffs with no confidence and no flow, and none of the right mental attitude."
Portland was played out of the playoffs on Thursday with Red Bull New York's 1-0 defeat of the Philadelphia Union.
Despite missing out in 2011, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson believes he has a solid core group of players that can carry the team to the playoffs in the coming years.
"It's raw right now, but as a first-year team I think we have a lot to be positive about," Paulson said in an interview on ExtraTime Radio.
"We have got a core that we can build from and after speaking with our coaching staff they believe we are about four players or so away from being a team that doesn't just squeak into the playoffs, but is a clear playoff team."
Portland will also be hoping to duplicate the result of its previous match against Real Salt Lake, as Kenny Cooper scored in the first half to secure a 1-0 home win for the Timbers in April.
- PORTLAND: 1
REAL SALT LAKE: 1
Oct 22 11:00 PM
- PORTLAND: 0
REAL SALT LAKE: 1
Oct 22 9:54 PM
- PORTLAND: 0
REAL SALT LAKE: 0
1st Half - 44'
Oct 22 9:07 PM
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