Real Salt Lake

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Woah: Kyle Beckerman cut his wild mane of hair (video)

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On Wednesday with some wild UEFA Champions League matches, it would take something special for us to profile a Major League Soccer side which failed to make the playoffs.

But, guys and girls, Kyle Beckerman got a haircut.

The Real Salt Lake and USMNT midfielder has had long dreadlocks for some time, one of the most distinguishable hair styles in the league.

[ MORE: Spurs are for real ]

No more (save one, long rat-tail looking lock).

“My wife and I started snipping some on Monday after our game, and kept going,” Beckerman said. “Feels good. I feel re-energized and I’m excited where we can go.”

Salt Lake Tribune writer Maddie Lee had the first video of Beckerman’s new ‘do, which isn’t so much about what’s there rather what’s not.

This will take some getting used to, Kyle. Does this mean Beckerman’s signaling a new era, or will he re-up with RSL? And, more importantly, did he save any of the locks?

More questions: Will the locks be die cut into the next MLS trading card set? Could he spray paint his signature onto one? And does his hair grow fast enough that it’ll be back for Spring? Kyle? Kyle!

Mike Petke handed three-year extension with Real Salt Lake

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Real Salt Lake narrowly missed the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2017, however, Mike Petke’s efforts as manager were valiant in turning the club around.

[ MORE: Did Don Garber hint towards next MLS expansion markets? ]

Those efforts didn’t go unnoticed, and the former MLS defender now has some job security with the club.

RSL announced on Thursday that Petke has earned a three-year contract extension with team, after going 13-12-4 in his first season with the Western Conference side.

“Loyalty is huge for me.  I am ecstatic about Mr. Hansen coming to me and offering me this contract,” Petke said in the wake of Thursday’s big announcement. “I’m ecstatic at the prospect of being here at least three more years.  And I’m excited and ecstatic about what I think we can accomplish together – Mr. Hansen, (General Manager) Craig Waibel, myself, the players … the whole organization.  I’m on cloud nine because I have an owner who values me, likes what I’m doing and wants to reward me for that.”

The 41-year-old took over for Jeff Cassar, who was at the helm for RSL since the start of the 2014 regular season, on March 29 and narrowly missed out on the postseason — finishing just one point behind the San Jose Earthquakes for sixth place in the West.

[ MORE: Whitecaps throttle Earthquakes en route to West semifinals ]

Prior to taking the reins as manager, Petke managed RSL’s USL side, Real Monarchs FC, briefly with just one match under his belt in 2017.

Petke began his managerial career in 2013 when he was selected to coach the New York Red Bulls, whom he spent seven of his 14 MLS seasons as a player.

MLS: Timbers beat Whitecaps to top West; RSL out, SKC fall to 5th

Photo credit: Portland Timbers / Twitter
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Portland Timbers 2-1 Vancouver Whitecaps

The standings: Timbers clinch the West’s 1-seed; Whitecaps fall to West’s 3-seed

The game: For the entirety of the regular season, no one wanted to finish top of the Western Conference. That lasted until the final day of the season, as the Vancouver Whitecaps, who sat atop the West for the last two months, lost 2-1 to the Portland Timbers and fell all the way to the 3-seed (and the knockout round) on the back of the Seattle Sounders’ 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids. Kendall Waston put the visitors ahead on the half-hour mark, but Liam Ridgewell quickly equalized and Darren Mattocks came back to bite his old team with the game-winning goal in the 48th minute.

[ MORE: MLS at Week 34 — it all comes down to this ]

The goals

29′ — Waston heads home from a free kick for 1-0 — Waston has had himself a pretty good month or so, turning into a regular goalscorer for Vancouver and helping Costa Rica clinch their place at the 2018 World Cup.

32′ — Ridgewell responds quickly, and it’s 1-1 — The initial shot was saved by David Ousted, but the rebound didn’t fall very far and Ridgewell was quick to pounce.

48′ — Mattocks beats his former club, makes it 2-1 — Vytautas Andriuskevicius (Vytas) cut the ball back for Mattocks, and the Jamaican picked out the 40 square inches that weren’t completely obscured at the near post.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Darren Mattocks

Goalscorers: Waston (29′), Ridgewell (32′), Mattocks (48′)


Real Salt Lake 2-1 Sporting Kansas City

The standings: Sporting KC clinch the West’s 5-seed; RSL finish 8th in the West

The game: On the bright side, RSL’s revival, which began after three games when Jeff Cassar was fired and Mike Petke was named the new boss, is complete. On the not-so-bright side, so is their season. Petke galvanized a young RSL side over the course of six months and turned them into legitimate playoff contenders, only to come up short on the final day of the regular season. Luis Silva and Brooks Lennon each bagged a goal in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Sporting KC. Speaking of not-so-bright sides, Sporting’s regular season ends with three losses and two draws from their final five games. In that span, they went from competing for the West’s no. 1 spot, to something of an afterthought with a trip to the Houston Dynamo in the knockout round on tap.

[ MORE: MLS at Week 34 — it all comes down to this ]

The goals

3′ — Silva slots past Dykstra for 1-0 — You could count the number of major mistakes made by Ike Opara this season on one hand, even after this early blunder.

41′ — Lennon gets two chances, makes it 2-0 — Silva drew the attention of four defenders and managed to move the ball wide to Lennon. Andrew Dykstra did well enough to make the initial save, but the rebound fell right back to Lennon, who left no doubt about it with his follow-up.

89′ — Opara heads home a free kick to the near post — Graham Zusi’s free kick was low and where only Opara could get to it. Opara’s header was low and where Nick Rimando couldn’t get to it.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Nick Rimando

Goalscorers: Silva (3′), Lennon (41′), Opara (89′)

MLS Decision Day preview: Much at stake

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Four teams can claim a Western Conference second round berth, while four more can earn a valuable first-round bye in the East.

Yep, there’s plenty to play for beyond the West’s final playoff spot Sunday during Major League Soccer’s Decision Day, when every team will take the pitch for 4 p.m. ET kickoffs.

[ MORE: Conte feels pressure ]

Here’s what we do know regarding the playoffs:

  1. Supporters’ Shield winning Toronto FC gets a first round bye, while No. 6 seed New York Red Bulls are headed to the road for a first round playoff
  2. New England, Montreal, Philadelphia, Orlando, DC, Minnesota, Colorado, and LA will not make the playoffs
  3. Full stop.

So, yes, this will be fun.

First, let’s look at the Eastern Conference Standings ahead of Sunday’s extravaganza:

Eastern Conference
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Toronto FC 33 20 8 5 72 35 37 13-3-1 7-5-4 68
x – New York City FC 33 16 8 9 54 41 13 10-4-2 6-4-7 56
x – Chicago 33 16 7 10 61 44 17 12-3-2 4-4-8 55
x – Atlanta 33 15 9 9 68 38 30 11-2-3 4-7-6 54
x – Columbus 33 16 5 12 51 47 4 12-2-3 4-3-9 53
x – New York 33 13 8 12 51 46 5 9-6-2 4-2-10 47

— New York City FC controls its bye destiny, though Columbus could join them on 56 points and would pass them on tiebreakers (wins).

— If that happens, Chicago could claim the second bye with a win or draw in Houston (The Fire owns the goal differential tiebreaker).

— If New York City and Chicago lose or draw, Atlanta could finish second with a home win over TFC.

— Columbus can finish second with a win and non-wins for Chicago and Atlanta.

Western Conference
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
x – Vancouver 33 15 7 11 49 47 2 9-5-3 6-2-8 52
x – Portland 33 14 8 11 58 49 9 10-4-2 4-4-9 50
x – Seattle 33 13 11 9 49 39 10 10-5-1 3-6-8 50
x – Sporting KC 33 12 13 8 39 27 12 10-6-1 2-7-7 49
x – Houston 33 12 11 10 54 45 9 11-4-1 1-7-9 47
San Jose 33 12 7 14 36 58 -22 9-5-2 3-2-12 43
FC Dallas 33 10 13 10 43 47 -4 7-7-2 3-6-8 43
Real Salt Lake 33 12 6 15 47 54 -7 8-4-4 4-2-11 42

Byes

— Vancouver finishes first with a win or draw at Portland. The ‘Caps could finish as low as third with a loss to Portland and a Seattle win versus Colorado.

— Portland finishes first — and wins the Cascadia Cup — with a win over visiting Vancouver.

— Seattle can claim a first round bye with a win over visiting Colorado and a Vancouver win over Portland.

— Sporting KC can finish second with a win at Real Salt Lake and non-wins for Portland and Seattle.

Final playoff spot

— San Jose claims the sixth seed with a home win over Minnesota. They can also finish sixth with a draw joined by non-wins for FC Dallas at home to LA and Real Salt Lake at home versus SKC.

— FC Dallas claims the sixth seed with a win over LA and a San Jose draw or loss versus Minnesota. FCD gets sixth with a draw, and a San Jose loss coupled with a RSL loss or draw versus SKC.

—  Real Salt Lake gets sixth with a win over SKC, and non-wins from San Jose and Dallas. RSL could also get sixth with a draw and losses for San Jose and Dallas.

(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Schedule
FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy
DC United vs. New York Red Bulls
San Jose vs. Minnesota United
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC
Houston vs. Chicago
Seattle vs. Colorado
Philadelphia vs. Orlando City
Portland vs. Vancouver
Montreal vs. New England
New York City vs. Columbus
Atlanta vs. Toronto

Predictions

— NYCFC hangs on for a draw against Columbus, earning a bye, leaving Chicago to host New York Red Bulls and Atlanta off to Columbus for the first round of the playoffs (We have Toronto beating Atlanta on Sunday).

— Vancouver and Portland draw, while Seattle beats Colorado. The ‘Caps and Sounders get byes, while Seattle takes back the Cascadia Cup.

— San Jose beats Minnesota, gaining the West’s sixth seed. The Quakes head to Portland for the first round, while SKC hosts Houston.

Real Salt Lake DP scouted by England, Germany, Scotland

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Albert Rusnak‘s outstanding season in Major League Soccer has scouts abroad wondering if he’s made a breakthrough.

With intense weeks ahead in World Cup qualifying and MLS, he may not have much time to notice the extra eyes.

[ MORE: Top talents at U-17 World Cup ]

Rusnak, 23, has seven goals and 12 assists for Real Salt Lake this season, and the DP attacking midfielder is in focus Thursday at Hampden Park in Scotland.

The Slovakian star won’t be worried about scouts, largely, as his side looks to clinch at least second place in UEFA World Cup qualifying Group F, but the BBC’s Simon Stone says he’s not likely to MLS for long thanks to interest in England, Germany, and Scotland (at the very least).

Scouts from clubs in all three countries will watch the 23-year-old in Glasgow before what is likely to be a move away from current Major League Soccer outfit Real Salt Lake in January.

Rusnak was with Manchester City from 2010-15, where his father was a scout. He took loans at Oldham Athletic, Birmingham City, and SC Cambuur before moving to Groningen and then RSL.

He has five caps for Slovakia, which sits five points back of England and a point ahead of Slovenia and Scotland. His RSL side has surged into the Top Six and looks to maintain playoff positioning over the final two matches.