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RSL: Every match is a big one

Published August 29, 2008 1:51 am

Now in second place, Real find themselves in must-win territory
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Today, 7 p.m.

It's a bit funny that Kyle Beckerman, following Tuesday's practice, looked at reporters with a straight face and proclaimed tonight's match between Real Salt Lake and Colorado, "the most important match of the season."

The humor lies in the fact that head coach Jason Kreis said the same thing last week before the match against Columbus. Two weeks ago, Robbie Findley said the same thing before RSL's matchup with the Houston Dynamo.

One gets the picture, when gauging RSL's place in the MLS Western Conference standings, why every match takes on a paramount importance. Because Real Salt Lake sits in second place, every match is pretty much a must-win scenario. And when you realize that RSL hasn't been in this position, ever, you can understand the urgency when it comes to the players and the coaches.

"When we take the field on Friday night, nothing less than three points is going to be acceptable," Kreis said. "To get a sense of how important this game is, I talked to my team today about what it's going to take to win the match. I usually reserve that for the day before the match. I really feel like this is a gigantic game. Three points is really the only acceptable result."

If the playoffs were to start today, RSL would be postseason bound. At the same time, they are a scant three points ahead of the Rapids in the standings. The two teams have a huge rivalry, as this match will determine who wins the Rocky Mountain Cup. It's also the second-to-last home match before RSL migrates to its new stadium.

Real Salt Lake is attempting to shake a two-game losing streak for a win that is badly needed. With 27 points, RSL sits behind the Dynamo, who have kicked into high gear and lead the west by five points.

"Right now, they are a team below us in the standings and we're trying to keep them below us," Beckerman said. "The Rocky Mountain Cup thing is there, and that's important. But right now, we're trying to make the playoffs, and winning for that reason is the main goal."

tjones@sltrib.com

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium

Radio: 700 AM

Last meeting: Colorado 2, RSL 0 (May 15)

Series history: Colorado leads 7-4