Archive for August 2016

Can RSL close the gap in the West vs Rapids

In a early Friday night match, RSL will play host to the Colorado Rapids in a key matchup in the Western Conference. The Rapids sit in 2nd place with 43 points in 24 matches, while RSL is just behind them with 40 points in 26 matches. This match will also decide the winner of the 2016 version of the Rocky Mountain Cup, RSL won the first leg 1-0 at home, while the Rapids won by the same margin in the second leg in Colorado. RSL must deal with the fact that the Rapids simply don’t lose often, just 3 losses in 24 matches the fewest in MLS with most teams having at least double the number of losses.  Playing into RSL’s favor in this match is the fact that the Rapids have just 2 road wins this year and all 3 of their losses have come on the road.  The Rapids have a -4 goal differential on the road, while RSL enjoys a +8 at home and are undefeated with a 7-0-5 record at Rio Tinto.

With just 8 matches remaining in the RSL season, there is little time left to close the gap between the teams above them in the standings and try to avoid a playoff play in match.  Four of the next 5 matches, including this one will be played at home for RSL so there is a great chance to extend their unbeaten streak at home and move up the table at the same time as both.  In order to take advantage of their home matches RSL will need to find their scoring touch again, after an early season run of multiple goal matches, RSL has scored 2 or more goals just twice since mid June.

The Rapids come in just one win in their last 5 and have ended up with draws in their last two matches at LA and last weekend vs Orlando at home. The Rapids have scored just 27 goals this season and their scoring is very balanced with 9 players having multiple goals and none of them having more than 4. The arrival of Jermaine Jones this off season has helped change the mentality of the Rapids on the pitch to that of a team that battles and fights for everything and the mid-summer arrival of Tim Howard gives them a true leader in goal. They also picked up MLS journeyman Sebastian LeToux in the summer window to give them an added physical presence up top to help with scoring.  We may not see Jones due to an injury, but this is till a very good team that plays huge defense and takes advantage of their scoring chances.

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RSL season counting down with 10 matches left – up next Seattle

It seems like just yesterday that the RSL season was kicking off and fans were unsure of what to expect after the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007, and with just 10 matches left in the season I expect many fans are still finding themselves wondering what to expect.

RSL sits currently in 3rd place in the Western Conference with a 10-7-7 record and 37 points or 1.54 points per match (a good improvement over the 1.21 ppm from last year). A 1.54 ppm would have put RSL in 4th place in the West last year, shield winners New York Red Bulls ended the season with a 1.76 and won a tie breaker with FC Dallas to claim the shield.  Currently MLS is lead by the Colorado Rapids with a 1.86 points per match, RSL’s 1.54 is tied for 5th in MLS at this point.

This weekend RSL will travel to Seattle to take on the Sounders who’s fans are probably feeling like RSL’s fans did last year, when things looked real bleak by August. The Sounders are 7-12-3 with a 1.24 ppm and 8 points out of the last playoff spot in the West, but things in MLS can change quickly. Both teams are coming off wins (RSL 3-1 over CHI & SEA 3-1 over ORL) and both have two wins in their last 5 matches. Both teams needing wins to close the gap with teams they are chasing, for RSL it is LA, Colorado and FC Dallas the 3 teams in front of them in the West and their next 3 opponents (all at home). For Seattle it is Vancouver, San Jose and Portland the 3 teams between them and a playoff sport, 4 of their next 5 matches are against those teams.  Both teams are 8 points behind that key team (FCD in 1st & PDX in the final playoff spot), so it would be easy to label it a must win for both, but Seattle is clearly the more desperate team.

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