The regular season couldn't have ended worst for Real Salt Lake. They didn't win any of their last six regular season matches, four of which were losses. Almost as bad, three of those four losses were by three goals, a rude awakening for a team with MLS Cup aspirations. Now they head into the playoffs against one of MLS' two elite teams, the Seattle Sounders, and they have absolutely no momentum.
What does momentum really do though? Salt Lake learned last year that it certainly doesn't guarantee victory. They were unbeaten in their final 14 matches of the regular season a year ago and looked primed to win a second consecutive MLS Cup, but then FC Dallas walked in and knocked them out in the first round. Finishing strong didn't do RSL a lick of good last year so will a winless six to finish the season matter this season?
One thing that gives Real Salt Lake hope this year is that they have something for the playoffs that they haven't had since the very beginning of the season and that is their entire first team. The back line trio of Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave and Chris Wingert all got healthy after missing parts of the season and Alvaro Saborio and Will Johnson are ready to go. Javier Morales, who was injured in May, got back just in time for the playoffs, but once he got back, Kyle Beckerman went out on a red card suspension.
It's been 30 matches since Morales and Beckerman stepped on the field together, but they will again on Saturday when they kick off their conference semifinal tie against Seattle. They'll do it with Olave, Borchers, Wingert, Saborio and Johnson in the team too. In short, they're doing it with their full team for the first time in months. Maybe that six-match skid to end the year won't matter much after all.