Sandy • With the Supporters' Shield still in sight and the final two matches of the Major League Soccer regular season waiting to be played, Real Salt Lake heads into its final break of the season with a two-week hiatus. The FIFA international break comes at an interesting time for RSL and the rest of the top teams in MLS chasing other teams as well as the Supporters' Shield, the title for the best regular-season team in the league.
Currently atop the suddenly thick Western Conference table, RSL has 52 points in 32 matches played. Seattle, fresh off a 5-1 shellacking at Colorado, sits at 51 points with 30 matches played and two games in hand over RSL, with Portland, Colorado and Los Angeles jockeying for the final three playoff spots in the West.
With RSL this close to a major goal that the franchise has never won, the break certainly comes at an awkward time.
Midfielder Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando were chosen by Jurgen Klinsmann to once again be included on United States' World Cup qualifying roster. The national team will host Jamaica in Kansas City, Kan., on Oct. 11 before traveling to Panama for the final qualifier on Oct. 15. Forward Alvaro Saborio is called back into Costa Rica's camp with games at Honduras (Oct. 11) and at home in San Jose, Costa Rica, against Mexico (Oct. 15).
It's a trio used to these summer call-ups.
"Just got to keep on going, like we all say," Beckerman said. "You just have to take it one at a time. The guys back here will be working hard and getting in the rest that they need and putting in the work. Then we will go and try and get it done for the U.S., then get back and ready to go."
RSL coach Jason Kreis said he knows the team is very close in the chase for the shield, but the team must take care of itself and its matches first and foremost.
"I just think it's there," he said. "Maybe two weeks from now it's not going to be there."
RSL is coming off a 1-1 home draw with FC Dallas in which they played the majority of the match down a man following Abdoulie Mansally's red card. The next match will come on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Portland, followed four days later by the regular-season finale at home against Chivas USA on Oct. 23.
U.S. World Cup qualifier roster
GK • Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders • DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
Midfielders • Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards • Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Eddie Johnson (Sounders FC)