SANDY, Utah – There's now nothing Real Salt Lake can do but sit back, watch and wait.
The Claret-and-Cobalt's playoff fate is out of their control following their 2-0 win Wednesday night over Chivas USA at Rio Tinto Stadium and in the hands of two of their Western Conference rivals.
If FC Dallas beat the Portland Timbers on Saturday, RSL fall to fourth place and would face Vancouver in the No. 4-vs.-No. 5 Knockout-Round game. If the Timbers get a result, RSL will hang on to third place and face either the Seattle Sounders or LA Galaxy in the conference semifinals.
“I'll be definitely in front of the TV, scouting and preparing,” RSL coach Jeff Cassar told reporters following their regular-season finale win. “I'm going to look at it like I'm preparing for two teams – Vancouver or Portland – and we'll see how it goes.”
With Wednesday's win over Chivas USA, the Claret-and-Cobalt ended the season with 56 points – the same total that brought them to within a point of the Western Conference regular-season championship a year ago and launched them toward an appearance in the MLS Cup final. This year, that might not get them better than fourth place.
“Unfortunately for us, we're in possibly … the fourth-fifth-place game in the West with a lot of points,” said RSL defender Nat Borchers.
Added Cassar: “It's a difficult conference, without a doubt.”
What is certain is the fact that RSL will be in the postseason for a seventh consecutive season. And they’ve had their fair share of success against Western foes. They went 1-1-1 against the Galaxy, Timbers and FC Dallas, 0-1-2 against Vancouver and 1-2 against the Sounders.
“We're not scared of anyone,” Cassar said. “This group of guys knows what it takes to win in the playoffs. And you can see in the last three games where we're really amped it up a little bit.”
RSL are 2-0-1 in their last three games with clean sheets against San Jose, Portland and Chivas.
- Get the latest RSL news at RealSaltLake.com
“We can't rest right now,” Cassar said. “It's definitely not a time to sit on the couch and relax. I'll be sitting on my couch taking notes and trying to prepare.”
Clearly, it would work to RSL's advantage if Portland can beat or tie Dallas. But RSL's coach and players were unwilling to say they'll be rooting for the Timbers.
Borchers dodged the question, saying only that he'd be watching.
“But I watch all the games. I'm an MLS nerd,” he said.
Fellow defender Chris Wingert, on the other hand, said he had no plans to watch.
“But I'll keep an eye on the score,” he said. “It's out of our control, and I like to take the mindset that we're not going to worry about things that are out of our control.”
Cassar insisted he's not rooting for anyone.
“I'm just going to prepare my team the best that I can,” he said.
But if Portland get a result, “It would be nice,” he said.