I think it should be said up front that Real Salt Lake doesn’t value the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference like the Sounders do.
Sigi Schmid has stated it as a team goal for several months. Jason Kreis, similar to last season, is less convinced having a home game in the second leg instead of the first is an advantage in the playoffs.
But all that said, Seattle can essentially clinch the No. 2 seed in the West with wins in its final two games Sunday versus FC Dallas and Oct. 28 at the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The conference standings are posted below, and the main thing to know is RSL has a three-point lead over the Sounders, but Seattle has played one less game. Both have a maximum of 59 points available.
The key to this whole thing is tiebreakers.
The first tiebreaker when teams are level on points in the standings is goals scored (something that was changed this year). Well, the Sounders have 48 goals scored with two games left. Two wins would result in at least 50 goals this season — maybe more — and RSL has 46 goals this season with just one game left.
That would mean Salt Lake would need at least four goals in a season-ending win against Vancouver to keep pace if Seattle wins out, which of course is the big “if” in this whole scenario.
But if you dig deeper, you’ll realize RSL would actually need FIVE goals in a season-ending win to have a chance at maintaining its second-place position in the conference.
The second tiebreaker if the two teams are level on points and goals scored is goal differential.
Currently the Sounders are +17 in goal differential and two wins would make them +19, at the very least.
Real Salt Lake is currently +11, making it extremely unlikely they’ll make up at least eight goals in goal differential in one game. That means they would need to beat Seattle on the first tiebreaker, goals scored, which again would require at least five goals — maybe more — in the regular-season finale against the Whitecaps.
Again, a lot of hypotheticals, but the moral of the story is if the Sounders win out — starting Sunday versus Dallas and then on Oct. 28 at LA — they will almost assuredly be the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
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