MLS Focus: Homegrown players come through for depleted Real Salt Lake in must-win game

Despite playing without five starters, Real Salt Lake took a long step toward returning to the MLS playoffs with a 4-1 win over the New England Revolution.

RSL can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Portland on Sunday or if the LA Galaxy doesn't sweep its final two games. Vancouver is for all intents and purposes eliminated from the playoffs.

RSL built up a four-game lead after only 50 minutes thanks to goals from Homegrown players Sebastian Saucedo and Corey Baird and Nick Besler with his first MLS goal and Croatian Damir Kreilach with his team-high 12th goal of the season.

Midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Sunny were both suspended due to yellow card accumulation, and Albert Rusnak, Joao Plata and Jefferson Savarino -- 25 goals and 26 assists among them -- were on the bench after playing international friendlies on Tuesday.

Remaining Schedules:
Portland (51 points):
Oct. 21: RSL; Oct. 28: at VAN.
Real Salt Lake (49 points):

Oct. 21: at POR.
LA Galaxy (45 points):
Oct. 21: at MNU; Oct. 28: HOU.
Vancouver (43 points):
Oct. 21: at LAFC; Oct. 28: POR.

Saucedo and Baird, the leading candidate for MLS's Rookie of the Year, were among four Homegrown players Coach Mike Petke started.

“Part of the reason I took this job," said Petke, "was because I had to develop players, I had to have young players. I had the option to have young players from an academy that are here, it intrigued me, and it was something I was extremely excited about. The lessons that they’ve learned since I’ve been here from Justen [Glad] to now [Aaron Herrera], Brooks [Lennon] this year and last year, Danny Acosta, all these guys it’s valuable experience. I feel tonight that Brooks Lennon and Aaron Herrera tonight were freakin’ men."

Western Conference Standings:
57 (32) x-FC Dallas (16-7-9)
56 (32) x-Sporting KC (16-8-8)
56 (32) x-LAFC (16-8-8)
53 (32) x-Seattle (16-11-5)
51 (32) Portland (14-9-9)
49 (32) Real Salt Lake (14-12-7)
45 (32) LA Galaxy (12-11-9)
43 (32) Vancouver (12-13-7)
36 (32) e-Minn. United (11-18-3)
35 (32) e-Houston (9-15-8)
27 (32) e-Colorado (7-19-6)
12 (32) e-San Jose (4-20-8)
x-qualified for playoffs.
e-eliminated from playoffs.
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