PORTLAND, Ore. — With a win, Real Salt Lake could have clinched a spot in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. Instead, Mike Petke's team lost 3-0 to the Portland Timbers, meaning RSL will need help next week in order to secure a postseason berth.
Seven weeks ago RSL's place in the postseason seemed secure following consecutive six-goal outbursts, including one over the LA Galaxy. But the Galaxy have surged under interim coach Dom Kinnear, with 10 points in their last four matches. After Sunday's loss Petke declared: "There's a one in a million chance now that we get to the playoffs."
With the unbalanced nature of 23-team league, RSL completed their schedule and sit one point ahead of the Galaxy ahead of the latter's Decision Day presented by AT&T match against the Houston Dynamo (4:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info). A win would eliminate RSL, however if the Galaxy are unable to collect three points, RSL would still advance on account of having more wins than the Galaxy.
Adding to Petke's frustration is his belief that lessons learned from the time the clubs met earlier this month in Sandy, Utah went by the wayside in the first half.
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"The first half was a continuation of the first time we played them," Petke said, referring to RSL's 4-1 loss at home to Portland on Oct. 6. "In the second half we turned it on, we had our chances but couldn't convert them."
The loss comes after a dominant performance on Thursday, when they beat the New England Revolution without Kyle Beckerman, Sunny, Albert Rusnak, Joao Plata and Jefferson Savarino in the starting XI due to suspensions and international duty. But the team failed to carry that momentum with their stars back in the lineup.
"We just came out on the short end of the stick today," Beckerman said. "We had a real good feeling coming into this week. We just weren't able to get it done."
The RSL veteran will be sitting at home next Sunday watching the matches and admitted, "it’s not a good place to be. We’re going to be the biggest Houston Dynamo fans there’s ever been and we’ll be rooting them on and hopefully they can help us out.”