There’s a lot of scenarios, but at the end of the day we want to take care of our own business and put ourselves in the right position. —RSL coach Mike Petke
SANDY — The nuisance of opponents’ games in hand when looking at the standings is no longer relevant for Real Salt Lake.
Heading into this Sunday’s match at Colorado (3:30 p.m. KMYU), RSL knows exactly where it stands as every team in MLS has now played 32 games with two remaining. It does not control its own destiny.
Real Salt Lake is one point out of a Western Conference playoff position, and even if it wins against Colorado and Kansas City the final two weeks it still needs help from someone to make up that point.
The best scenario for RSL would be for Seattle to beat FC Dallas this weekend, which would create a clear path into the playoffs for RSL with two victories.
There are a myriad of other scenarios that could play out depending on results the next two weeks, but coach Mike Petke is trying not to complicate the task at hand. Those scenarios only matter if RSL takes care of business.
“There’s a lot of scenarios, but at the end of the day we want to take care of our own business and put ourselves in the right position,” said Petke.
Getting a result at Colorado is no guarantee. Even though Colorado owns the second-worst record in MLS, it’s actually been decent at home with a 7-5-4 record. Its on the road where the Rapids stink.
Colorado demonstrated that it’s still a dangerous opponent last weekend when it earned a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas, a result that benefitted RSL greatly.
“This a dangerous team to go up against, they’re very dangerous on the wings with their pace and early service. A guy like (Alan) Gordon, a veteran in this league is a big handful and can get on the end of things,” said Petke.
RSL has already won both games against the Rapids this season and has already locked up the Rocky Mountain Cup. Petke acknowledged that the cliché of beating a team three times makes the match even more difficult.
Colorado had a nine-game winless streak earlier this summer that led to the firing of head coach Pablo Mastroeni, but it’s 2-2-2 over its past six matches and a tricky foe on Sunday.
Jefferson Savarino seems doubtful for the match after spraining his ankle in the Galaxy draw two weeks ago. In the days following Petke acknowledged that it was unlikely Savarino could recover in time, and he hasn’t trained this week either.
His absence should open the door for Brooks Lennon to get a start on the wings in the must-win match for RSL.
Albert Rusnak, fresh off starting for Slovakia last weekend in a World Cup qualifying match, is beaming with confidence and has complete faith that RSL can secure the full six points the last two weeks.
He’s tied for fifth in MLS with 13 assists, which includes six assists in the past seven games. Rusnak is also tied for the team lead in goals with seven along with Joao Plata and Yura Movsisyan.