Real Salt Lake angling for highest possible finish

[MLS: Week 33] The concept of a “bogey” team – a foe that no matter how weak always plays tough against a certain opponent – can be exaggerated, yet Real Salt Lake is clearly confronted by just such a problem Wednesday in its regular-season finale.

STAVING OFF THE SWEEP. It’s been a bizarre season in many ways for Chivas USA, which appears destined for the chopping block as a prospective new ownership group finalizes a purchase from MLS.

Chivas USA has won only eight games, but it has twice beaten Real Salt Lake, which hosts the third and final league meeting between the teams (9:30 p.m., MLS Live/Direct Kick). RSL, which will close out the season before any other team, trails third-place FC Dallas by a point and by winning would put pressure on FCD to match that result when it plays Portland on Saturday.

The fourth-place finisher will host either Portland or Vancouver in the Western Conference wild-card game next week. The third-place team skips the wild-card round and goes straight into the conference semifinals against the runner-up, which will be either Seattle or Los Angeles. If the teams tie on points, FCD holds the first tiebreaker, most victories.

There’s motivation as well for Chivas USA, whose players have disregarded their uncertain future long enough to win their last two games against RSL (1-0) and Colorado (2-1). Felix Borja and Kris Tyrpak scored the second-half goals that wiped out a 1-0 deficit against the Rapids; Borja, whose stock has risen as that of the club has plummeted, got the game-winner against RSL when he volleyed home a deflected shot that had rebounded off the crossbar.

Keeper Nick Rimando saved a penalty kick from Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres and parried a hard shot by Leandro Barrera to keep the game close but for the second time this season RSL couldn’t score against goalie Dan Kennedy. Torres hit the only goal of a 1-0 Chivas USA victory in late June and has two more games to increase his total of 15, which will stand forever as the team record unless some miracle occurs by which it survives. 

Chivas USA midfielder Oswaldo Minda is suspended Wednesday but is eligible for the final game of the season Sunday against San Jose, which is tied with Chivas USA for eighth place in the Western Conference, two points behind the Rapids. Those are the three teams battling to avoid a last-place finish.

MLS SCHEDULE, Week 33:
Wednesday, October 22
9:30 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Chivas USA
Friday, October 24
8 p.m. ET
Chicago vs. Houston
Saturday, October 25
2:30 p.m. ET
Seattle vs. LA Galaxy, NBC
4 p.m. ET
Montreal vs. D.C. United
7:30 p.m. ET
New England vs. Toronto FC
8:30 p.m. ET
FC Dallas vs. Portland
10 p.m. ET
Vancouver vs. Colorado, UDN
Sunday, October 26
3 p.m. ET
Chivas USA vs. San Jose
4 p.m. ET
Columbus vs. Philadelphia, UniMas
8:30 p.m. ET
Sporting KC vs. New York, ESPN, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes

MLS Standings:
EASTERN CONFERENCE

PTS (GP) TEAM W-L-T GF/GA

58 (33) *D.C. United 17-9-7 51/36
52 (33) *New England 16-13-4 50/46
49 (33) *Sporting KC
14-12-7 48/39
49
(33) *Columbus 13-10-10 50/41
47 (33) *New York 12-10-11 53/50
---------------------------------------
42 (33) x-Philadelphia 10-11-12 50/49
41 (33) x-Toronto FC 11-13-8 44/53
39 (33) x-Houston 11-16-6 38/56
33 (33) x-Chicago 5-10-18 39/50
27 (33) x-Montreal 6-18-9 37/57

WESTERN CONFERENCE
PTS (GP) TEAM W-L-T GF/GA
61
(33) *Seattle 19-10-4 63/50
61 (33) *LA Galaxy 17-6-10 69/35
54 (33) *FC Dallas 16-11-6 55/43
53 (33) *Real Salt Lake 14-8-11 52/39
47 (33) Vancouver 11-8-13 41/40
-----------------------------------------
46 (33) Portland 11-9-13 59/52
32 (33) x-Colorado 8-17-8 43/61
30 (32) x-Chivas USA 8-18-6 28/59
30 (33) x-San Jose
6-15-12 35/49
*Clinched playoff berth.
x-Eliminated from playoffs.
------------------------------------------------
MLS: Leading Scorers
G PLAYER, TEAM
25 Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York
22 Dom Dwyer, Sporting KC
19 Robbie Keane
, LA Galaxy
17 Obafemi Martins
, Seattle
17 Lee Nguyen, New England
16 Gyasi Zardes, LA Galaxy
15 Erick Torres, Chivas USA
15 Clint Dempsey, Seattle
14 Chris Wondolowski
, San Jose
13 Joao Plata, Real Salt Lake

1 comment about "Real Salt Lake angling for highest possible finish".
  1. Zoe Willet, October 23, 2014 at 1:57 a.m.

    I wish you would list all goal-scorers with at least 10 goals, and a list of those with assists at least ten as well.

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