In a matter of weeks, Real Salt Lake has gone from leading the Supporters’ Shield race to quickly falling out of the conversation of the league’s best teams.
RSL has gone 1-4-1 in its past six games, including a 5-0 collapse Saturday in San Jose. What should be more troubling for Salt Lake, however, is not that the club has struggled for results recently, but that the team has been unable to compete with the league’s top teams.
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"You don’t need to be a contender until the end of the season," RSL coach Jason Kreis said Saturday.
Good thing, because RSL certainly isn’t competing with the top MLS teams right now. After losing to the Western Conference-leading Earthquakes for a third time, the club is 3-5-2 against teams that would be in the playoffs if the postseason began today.
Look past season-opening victories against Los Angeles and New York and RSL has only once this season beaten a team presently in the top half of its conference: a 2-1 victory at Seattle on May 12.
RSL remains in second place in the West thanks to an ability to take care of business against the teams it should beat — meaning, those most teams should beat. RSL is 8-2-1 against teams that, as of this week, are on the outside looking in of the playoff picture.
Of course, with 13 regular-season games remaining, RSL has plenty of time to regain standing in the league. Seven of those games are against upper-half teams.
Beckerman an all-star
There was some grumbling when no RSL player was voted by fans to the MLS starting 11. That grumbling is likely to increase after Sunday’s announcement that only midfielder Kyle Beckerman was selected to the roster as a reserve by coach Ben Olsen. It will be Beckerman’s fourth consecutive All-Star Game.
Defender Jamison Olave and goalkeeper Nick Rimando were also considered candidates to join the team for the July 25 match against Chelsea of the English Premier League in Chester, Pa.
Olave was an all-star starter in 2010 and 2011, while Rimando was an all-star in 2010.
Nine of the MLS’ 19 teams were not represented on the roster at all.
Last week, after the starters were announced, Rimando said he hoped multiple RSL players would be selected to the roster.
"You want to get these guys on it because, for me, the guys that play in front of you, it’s easy," he said. "Because I’ve got front-row seats to see these guys play in front of me. We were in first place for a long time."
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