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RSL: Parity takes center stage in Major League Soccer
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Things are suffocatingly close.

Just ask Jason Kreis.

The Real Salt Lake coach said he can't remember the last time this many teams were vying for both the Supporters' Shield and playoff berths with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Eight teams are within five points of one another in the race for the Supporters' Shield — an honor bestowed on the team with the most points accumulated at the end of the season — and it's only expected to get more jumbled over the last couple games.

"It means that from the worst team to the first-place team, the differences are very, very small in abilities and talents," Kreis said.

Real Salt Lake, in the mix for both the Shield and a top-three seed in the Western Conference, heads to Portland, Ore., on Saturday to face the Timbers in a monumental match for both sides.

The unpredictable nature of the final weeks of the season, as Kreis explained, should strengthen the overall view of Major League Soccer and invigorate fans down the stretch.

"It's a really, really good time for this league and good time for fans to enjoy what's going on," he said.

Defender Chris Wingert, like Kreis, couldn't manage to recall a time trophies and playoff positioning were this up in the air.

"I certainly don't remember both conferences being this tight with two games to go," he said. "It speaks to the parity in this league, and that's a good thing. It's a good thing for this league and MLS soccer to have such a close competition down to the end."

Despite having 13 days off between matches, RSL will have a chance to clinch a playoff berth at JELD-WEN Field in Portland Saturday night.

"I think that we're good enough that we should be able to control our own destiny and not have to worry about what other teams are doing," he said.

ckamrani@sltrib.com

Twitter: @chriskamrani —

Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers

P Saturday, 8:30 p.m. MDT

TV • CW30

Soccer • Salt Lake in crowded chase for postseason berth.
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