If you want to watch Real Salt Lake make its late-season push toward the Major League Soccer playoffs next fall, you might want to start booking your flights now.
In part because it requested a favorable schedule early in the season to accommodate its effort to win the CONCACAF Champions League, the team will play at home in Rio Tinto Stadium only four times after Aug. 1. It will play nine road games in the same span, according to the schedule released by Major League Soccer on Thursday including four in a row, at one point.
That easily will make up one of the toughest schedule stretches in team history. Only once before has RSL played four straight road games, back in 2007.
On the bright side, however, RSL has been afforded plenty of opportunity to succeed in the Champions League, presuming it advances beyond the quarterfinals against the Columbus Crew later this month.
The team has a bye the weekend before it would play the second leg of the Champions League semifinal on the road in either Costa Rica or Honduras on April 5, and another bye the weekend before it would play the first leg of the championship round on the road in Mexico on April 19.
RSL opens the expanded 34-game season at San Jose on March 19, then plays three of its next four games at home.
It will host one of the league's two new expansion teams for the first time when Vancouver visits on June 4. The Portland Timbers visit in the season finale on Oct. 22, ending a streak of four straight years in which RSL has finished the regular season against the rival Colorado Rapids.
In another rarity, the team will play at home against New England on July 4 a Monday. It has played on a Monday only four previous times, once in a U.S. Open Cup game and three times in league games.
The playoffs are scheduled to begin Oct. 26, building to the MLS Cup final on the weekend of Nov. 19. However, the league still has not announced the format for the 10-team postseason.
2011 RSL schedule
March 19 • at San Jose, 8:30 p.m.
March 26 • Los Angeles, 7 p.m.
April 9 • at New England, 5:30 p.m.
April 13 • Colorado, 7 p.m.
April 23 • Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
April 30 • at Portland, 8:30 p.m.
May 7 • Chivas USA, 2 p.m.
May 14 • Houston, 7 p.m.
May 22 • at FC Dallas, 5 p.m.
May 28 • Seattle, 7 p.m.
June 4 • Vancouver, 7 p.m.
June 8 • at Columbus, 5:30 p.m.
June 11 • at Philadelphia, 5:30 p.m.
June 18 • D.C. United, 7 p.m.
June 22 • at Chicago, 6:30 p.m.
June 25 • Toronto FC, 7 p.m.
July 4 • New England, 6:30 p.m.
July 9 • FC Dallas, 7 p.m.
July 16 • at Vancouver, 2 p.m.
July 23 • San Jose, 8 p.m.
July 30 • Columbus, 7 p.m.
Aug. 3 • at Sporting KC, 6:30 p.m.
Aug. 6 • New York, 7 p.m.
Aug. 13 • at Toronto FC, 5 p.m.
Aug. 20 • at Houston, 6:30 p.m.
Aug. 27 • at Chivas USA, 8:30 p.m.
Sept. 10 • at Seattle, 2 p.m.
Sept. 17 • Sporting KC, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 • at D.C. United, 5:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 • Chicago, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 • at Los Angeles, 8:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 • at Colorado, 8:30 p.m.
Oct. 22 • Portland, 7 p.m.
Note • All game times Mountain