With only four matches left in the 2015 MLS regular season, Real Salt Lake still has an opportunity to reach the playoffs for an eighth consecutive year.

That opportunity is quickly fading away after looking strong before Saturday's loss to the San Jose Earthquakes. However, only weeks ago it seemed more or less impossible from a high-level perspective.

Sports Club Stats compiles playoff chances and finishing probabilities, among other things, for various sports and leagues across the world. They put Real Salt Lake's chance of making the playoffs at a slender 3.7 percent. While we could argue about why that's the case from one side — players and coaches and all that — it's not going to make a difference in these last four matches.

From an Aristotelian perspective, we'd probably be talking about the 'material cause', or that which composes the whole, when we should be talking about more, including the final cause — the end to which Real Salt Lake aims. Or, perhaps we could talk about formal causes (the team as a combined whole) or efficient causes (perhaps MLS salary cap restrictions). The simple matter is that pointing to any single cause will ignore other reasons why Real Salt Lake is in danger of ending an incredible active playoff streak.

But at this point, the reasons may be moot, in part because there isn't time to change things because that would distract from the fact that it is still possible.

Winning the last four matches would almost be enough alone for making the playoffs in any scenario, but its not a sure thing. A best-case scenario isn't essential, but it's worth examining because it's not outside the realm of possibility.

Week 31: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids

RSL should win here and it's essential if they're going to keep pace with the pack. A loss would leave RSL only one point ahead of Western Conference basement-dweller Colorado. If Portland Timbers lose to Sporting Kansas City, it makes the job easier, with RSL only three points behind the last playoff spot, setting up an incredibly tense week 32.

Week 32: Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers

A win here and Real Salt Lake could be level with Portland at 44 points but still behind in the standings on the second tiebreaker, goal differential. A win by the San Jose Earthquakes in its game against the Vancouver Whitecaps would see them jump ahead in the standings with 46 points, knocking both Salt Lake and Portland out of playoff contention for the week. A Houston win over FC Dallas could push Dynamo into the 44-point tie as well.

Week 33: Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas

If you're starting to see a theme, there's good reason for that. RSL has to win, but that might not be enough to keep things secure. A win leaves them at 47 points, which could be equaled by Portland and Houston — or bested by San Jose.

Week 34: Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders

Anything but a win here would leave RSL incredibly vulnerable, but 50 points could still be topped by San Jose or equaled by Portland or Houston. Those teams are pitted against sides competing for the Supporters Shield, which could leave RSL with a sliver of an opening.

For Real Salt Lake to make the playoffs will require more than a heroic effort in the final four games of the season, but that's a good place to start.

Matt Montgomery is the managing editor of RSL Soapbox.

Twitter: TheCrossbarRSL

Email: montgomery.matt@gmail.com