Sounders vs Real Salt Lake: How Seattle can make the playoffs
Sunday is the much-touted Decision Day in MLS, the final day of the regular season in which all matches are played at the same time – some of which will decide the playoff fate of the teams involved.
The Sounders’ matchup is with Real Salt Lake, which currently sits just above Seattle in the Western Conference by a single point. There are a number of scenarios that the Sounders could find themselves in after Sunday, affected by three matches: Sounders vs. RSL, Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, and Sporting Kansas City vs. San Jose Earthquakes.
This will be the third meeting between the Western Conference rivals this season, with each team having won its respective home match 2-1. Salt Lake is winless in its last six, only holding onto a playoff spot because of their early season form. RSL are also historically bad on turf pitches – no win on artificial surfaces since 2013– and in Seattle, where they haven’t won a match since 2012. But on Decision Day, anything is possible. RSL is a good team with good players, and those players will be hungry for a result to clinch their own spot in the 2016 playoffs.
Instead of the usual three keys preview for this match, I’m going to list the potential outcomes of Decision Day as they relate to the Sounders.
Seattle takes on Real Salt Lake at 1 p.m. at CenturyLink Field.
If the Sounders win against RSL, they make the playoffs and will be the fourth seed. It’s that simple. This is by far the best outcome, as it gives Seattle the highest possible seeding and a home match in the first playoff game, which would be just three days later. It also doesn’t rely on the other two results.
If the Sounders lose or draw against RSL, things start to get complicated.
• If Portland and Kansas City win, the Sounders completely miss the playoffs.
• If Portland wins and KC draws, the Sounders make the playoffs as the sixth seed.
• If Portland wins and KC loses, the Sounders make the playoffs as sixth seed.
• If Portland draws and KC wins, the Sounders make the playoffs as sixth seed.
• If Portland and KC draw, the Sounders make the playoffs as fifth seed.
• If Portland draws and KC loses, the Sounders make the playoffs as fifth seed.
• If Portland loses and KC wins, the Sounders make the playoffs as sixth seed.
• If Portland loses and KC draws, the Sounders make the playoffs as fifth seed.
• If Portland and KC lose, the Sounders make the playoffs as fifth seed.
Spenser Davis also covers the Sounders for Sounder at Heart.