Real Salt Lake ended up on the right side of a tight playoff race in the Western Conference as they were able to latch on to the final playoff spot, beating out Portland by a point (by beating the Timbers on Decision Day in what was essentially a winner-take-all matchup for the final playoff spot). RSL finished the year with 47 points, which puts them as the #7 seed in the West.
In the opening round of the MLS Cup Playoffs, RSL will take on Austin FC (the #2 seed in the West). This matchup will take place on Sunday (October 16th) and will be broadcast on ABC and ESPN Deportes. The match will begin at 3:00pm ET (1pm Mountain Time).
Austin grabbed the 2-seed by racking up 56 points on the season (fourth most in the league overall). They are led by one of the MVP favorites in Sebastian Driussi who ended the season with 22 goals (tied for second in the league) and seven assists. His 51 points is also third most in the league this year.
In the road leading up to the playoffs, it was up-and-down for RSL. They had been in rough form before grabbing results in their final two matches, including the win in that winner-take-all match against Portland, in order to make the playoffs. RSL had picked up just one point in their previous four matches, which put them in that tight situation heading in the final two matches. Overall, RSL picked up just 13 points in their final 11 matches of the regular season (dating back to the start of August).
Future RSL Playoff Outlook
Now here is a look at what the potential future road for RSL in the playoffs would look like.
If RSL upsets Austin, then they will take on the winner of the 3v6 matchup (3. FC Dallas vs 6. Minnesota United) in the second round. That match will be a road match for RSL (in fact every potential match for RSL in the playoffs will be a road match). That second round match will take place the weekend of October 20th-23rd.
If RSL gets past that second round matchup, then they would head to the Western Conference Finals. There they would take on whoever makes it out of the other side of the Western Conference bracket (#1 seed/Supporter's Shield winners LAFC, #4 seed LA Galaxy, and #5 seed Nashville). That match will take place on Sunday, October 30th and will be broadcast on FS1.
MLS Cup will take place November 5th and will broadcast on Fox. There, if they continue their Cinderella run, RSL would take on whoever wins out the Eastern Conference. Again, that match should be a road match for RSL no matter who wins the East (since RSL has fewer points than all seven playoff teams in the East, with Eastern 7-seed Orlando finishing with 48 points).
It will tough for RSL to make a run (being the 7-seed and not being in the best run of form over the past two months), but they have the talent to do some damage in the playoffs.