Evaluating RSL's playoff chances

With a 6-6-6 record and 12 games remaining for Real Salt Lake this season, let’s look into a crystal ball and predict the future. How many points does RSL need its remaining 12 games to not only make the playoffs, but to perhaps win the Western Conference.

Chivas won the West with 53 points last year, and RSL is on pace to come up well short of that with just 24 points. So far it’s not been an issue in the parity-riddled Western Conference. Inevitably, someone’s going to get hot and win four or five in a row and pull away from the pack.

I’m guessing that 50 points will win the West this year. RSL would therefore need 26 points in its final 12 league matches. An 8-2-2 record would get the job done, as would a 7-0-5 record. With so many road matches remaining it seems unlikely.

To simply qualify for the playoffs in the competitive West, this year 42 points seems like a good approximate magic number. RSL needs 18 points to get there, which shouldn’t be that hard even with only five home games remaining. With a 3-0-2 record in those five matches, it would only need seven points from its remaining seven road games to put itself in a good position to make the playoffs.

What are your thoughts? Is first place still reachable? Are the playoffs a virtual lock?

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