Soccer • RSL needs strong finish, including at Galaxy on Saturday.
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Sandy • Second, or third. The Galaxy, or the Sounders. Home, or away.
Veteran midfielder Kyle Beckerman said he doesn't really care about any of the potential playoff permutations for Real Salt Lake in the MLS Western Conference, so long as his team can simply pile up as many points as possible in its last three games.
You know … just in case.
"You want to finish as high as you can, so that if you do make it to the finals, you have a chance to play at home," Beckerman said. "That's what's really important."
For the first time, the MLS Cup championship game will be played at the home of the finalist with the most regular-season points. So if RSL can finish the regular season strong it travels to play the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday it could be in position to host the title game at Rio Tinto Stadium on Dec. 1 against anybody except Sporting KC, which almost certainly will finish higher.
"That's a pretty solid motivator, for sure," coach Jason Kreis said. "We have to believe we're capable of getting to that game. So if we believe that we're capable of getting to that game, we have to put ourselves in the best possible position to win the game.
"But I'm still in the mode that, we're still in the playoffs," he added. "We started the playoffs two weeks ago, and this is just the next game in our playoff chase."
Playoff tickets have gone on sale to season-ticket holders, with RSL having qualified for the postseason for a league-leading fifth straight year.
The team probably will play either the Galaxy or the Sounders in a two-game conference semifinal series starting Nov. 3 or 4 it doesn't know yet whether it would be home or away, to start though it could also fall into the new wild-card game against Vancouver or FC Dallas on Oct. 31 or Nov. 1
The wild-card game would be at home.
Tickets will go on sale to the public next week. Call 801-727-2700 for more information.
Midfielder Ned Grabavoy was still missing from practice Tuesday with the quadriceps injury he suffered last week, and Kreis wasn't sure yet how he might have improved for the weekend because Grabavoy had some "personal business" that kept him away.
Defender Tony Beltran also did not practice, having suffered what Kreis called a "slight knee injury" in the 4-0 victory at Chivas USA last weekend. His status for the Galaxy game is uncertain.
Midfielder Luis Gil has been called into the U.S. Under-20 national team for a series of upcoming friendlies at the Marbella Cup in Spain.
The 18-year-old will leave RSL after its game against the Galaxy, and play in friendlies against Canada (Oct. 10), Scotland (Oct. 12) and Azerbaijan (Oct. 16).
That could compound problems for RSL in its crucial game at Seattle on Oct. 17, when it already expects to be without forward Alvaro Saborio, midfielders Beckerman and Will Johnson, and possibly goalkeeper Nick Rimando because of international duty.
Forward Fabian Espindola enjoyed the first three-assist game in RSL history against Chivas last weekend, giving him seven assists alongside seven goals this season.
"I think I have more assists than goals in my life," Espindola said. "That's the way I like to play. I want to touch the ball a lot and … if I play good, I don't care if I score. Other people care, those who talk too much. But I don't [care]."
So the team's second all-time leading scorer he has 33 regular-season goals for RSL, behind Saborio's 40 actually prefers to pass?
"If my team's going to win?" he said. "For sure."
RSL at L.A. Galaxy
P Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • NBC Sports