With MLS Decision Day 2020 presented by AT&T just around the corner, Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler joined Sports Radio 810 WHB this morning for his customary appearance on The Border Patrol to preview Sunday’s regular season finale at rivals Real Salt Lake.
For Sporting, the math is simple: win on Sunday and the club will finish atop the Western Conference standings, securing a No. 1 seed in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. A loss or draw against RSL, however, would mean that the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC must both drop points in their games against LAFC and the San Jose Earthquakes, respectively, in order for Sporting to finish first.
While the stakes for Sporting are high, RSL enters Sunday’s clash at Rio Tinto Stadium already eliminated from playoff contention. Having discussed the situation with his young brother Nick, who plays for RSL, Besler nevertheless expects an incredibly tough challenge this weekend.
“We have everything to play for because we’re still fighting for that No. 1 seed,” Besler said. “That’s everything to us right now. If we can finish No. 1 in the West, that means we’re playing at home all the way through the playoffs up until MLS Cup, then maybe even hosting MLS Cup depending on what happens in the other conference. We’re going to be fired up and ready to go.
“Real Salt Lake is a wild card. They’re eliminated from the playoffs and on paper, they technically have nothing to play for. I’ve seen it go both ways. Maybe RSL rolls the ball out and they’re just thinking about vacation. I’ve also seen it where there are maybe some lineup changes and coaches give opportunities to other guys who maybe haven’t had many chances throughout the season.
“Those guys come in with a big chip on their shoulders with a lot to prove. Guys are playing for contracts and for their careers. They’re also playing more freely. Really, there’s no pressure because they’re already eliminated. So often times you see these teams go out and play with nothing to lose. In some ways, that can become a more difficult game for us.”
Besler touched on a number of other topics, as well, speaking candidly about Major League Soccer’s move to points per game to decide playoff seeding as well as Sporting’s five-star costume display on Halloween last Saturday at Compass Minerals National Performance Center.
Sunday’s Decision Day battle is slated for 5:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports GO, ESPN 94.5 and La Grande 1340 AM.