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RSL can put on the pressure in early finale
October 23rd, 2013 12:27AM

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[MLS PREVIEW: Week 35] The regular season concludes a few days early for Real Salt Lake, which hosts Chivas USA Wednesday night with a playoff spot assured but great uncertainty regarding its final place in the standings.

RSL (15-10-8, 53 points) is in second. It can win the Western Conference and still capture the Supporters’ Shield with the best overall record; it can also drop as low as fourth and host a wild-card game next week. The wild-card round is designed to punish teams by forcing them into knockout games on a few days’ rest, but RSL would have at least a week off if it was to lose and other results go against them.

(Because third-place Los Angeles and fourth-place Seattle play each other, they both cannot finish ahead of RSL. But a fourth-place finish is possible if RSL loses and Colorado wins in Vancouver.)

Coach Jason Kreis isn’t expecting a soft touch in Chivas USA, which has cooled off after a decent run and goes into Rio Tinto Stadium mired in a three-game losing streak during which it has been outscored, 11-1. He likes the proactive approach.

“I think it's nice to be playing before everybody else,” Kreis told mlssoccer.com. “Hopefully, we get a positive result. We put the three points on the table. Now everybody else has to do something if they want to win Supporters' Shield, if they want to win the Western Conference. I like doing that.

RSL has been locked in tight games lately. In the last four games it is 1-1-2 during which it has scored two goals and allowed two. It ground out a 0-0 tie in Portland last Saturday to clinch its playoff spot, but in its last two home games it has failed to beat non-playoff teams, losing 1-0, to D.C. United and tying FC Dallas, 1-1.

The full RSL roster should be available, including midfielder Javier Morales, who sat out the Portland game because of a yellow-card suspension and also has been bothered by a sore ankle. RSL has won both regular-season meetings by scores of 4-1 and 1-0.

Chivas USA is coming off a 17-day break from league action. It fell to the Galaxy, 5-0, Oct. 6, and a week later Chivas USA played a 0-0 tie with the New Zealand national team in a friendly. It hosts another Western Conference playoff team, Portland, Saturday in the season finale at StubHub Center.

MLS WEEK 35, Schedule:
Wednesday, October 23
9 pm ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Chivas USA

Saturday, October 26
3 pm ET
Philadelphia vs. Sporting KC NBCSN
4 pm ET
Toronto FC vs. Montreal Univision Dep.
5:30 pm ET
San Jose vs. FC Dallas NBCSN
10:30 pm ET
Chivas USA vs. Portland

Sunday, October 27
1:30 pm ET
D.C. United vs. Houston NBC
4 pm ET
Columbus vs. New England
5 pm ET
New York vs. Chicago UniMas
8 pm ET
Vancouver vs. Colorado
9 pm ET
Seattle vs. LA Galaxy ESPN
------------------------------------------------------------
MLS STANDINGS:
Eastern Conference:
PTS (GP) TEAM W-L-T +/-

56 (33) *New York 16-9-8 53/39
55 (33) *Sporting KC 16-10-7 45/29
49 (33) Montreal 14-12-7 50/48
49 (33) Chicago 14-12-7 45/47
48 (33) New England 13-11-9 48/38
-------------------------------------------
48 (33) Houston 13-11-9 39/40
46 (33) Philadelphia 12-11-10 41/42
41 (33) Columbus 12-16-5 42/45
26 (33) Toronto FC 5-17-11 29/47
16 (33) D.C. United 3-23-7 21/57
*Clinched playoff berth.

Western Conference:
PTS (GP) TEAM W-L-T +/-
54 (33) *Portland 13-5-15 49/33
53 (33) *Real Salt Lake 15-10-8 55/40
52 (33) *LA Galaxy 15-11-7 52/37
51 (33) *Seattle 15-12-6 41/41
51 (33) Colorado 14-10-9 45/35
-------------------------------------------
48 (33) San Jose 13-11-9 33/41
45 (33) Vancouver 12-12-9 50/45
44 (33) FC Dallas 11-11-11 47/50
26 (32) Chivas USA 6-18-8 29/60
*Clinched playoff berth.
------------------------------------------------------------
MLS LEADING SCORERS:
G PLAYER (TEAM)
20 Marco Di Vaio (Montreal)
20 Mike Magee (LA Galaxy/Chicago)
19 Camilo (Vancouver)
15 Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)
13 Diego Fagundez (New England)
13 Dominic Oduro (Columbus)
11 Jack McInerney (Philadelphia)
11 Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake)
11 Federico Higuain (Columbus)
11 Blas Perez (FC Dallas)


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