The big changes in our lineup card are at target forward and right back. With news today that Blaise Nkufo's knee is proving to be more problematic than we have have thought, it looks like he'll miss Thursday's game and could miss more depending on the doctor's diagnosis. Fortunately, the Sounders have Nate Jaqua to fill that hole.
Jaqua has been used somewhat sparingly in MLS games, having only started once and playing just 197 minutes since returning from injury. That doesn't mean he's been ineffective, though. Jaqua has scored five goals in all competitions -- third on the team -- in just over 600 minutes. Combined with his one assist, that's a PP90 of about 1.60, which is the best on the team.
It also looks like James Riley will miss Thursday's match with what appears to be a sprained ankle he suffered during training on Tuesday. Luckily, X-rays came back negative and the Sounders are saying there's a decent chance he'll be back for the Sept. 18 match at Columbus. In his place, we're expecting to see Zach Scott based on the fact that he's usually the backup at right back and that Tyson Wahl has never played on that side as a Sounder.
Less of a surprise should be Nate Sturgis reclaiming his spot in midfield. All indications are that he's healed from his hip injury and there's no reason to believe the coaching staff has lost any faith in him.
Real Salt Lake will likely be without at least two of their top players. Fabian Espindola (six goals, two assists) is not even traveling according to RSL Soapbox and Jamison Olave is out with yellow card accumulation. In addition to being their best defender, Olave (three goals) has also been a monster on set pieces. Ned Grabavoy, one of the team's top players off the bench, may also miss the match. There was even some question about whether Alvaro Soborio would start, as he's nursing an injury, but it now looks like he'll play.
All the stats and standings have been updated so those should all be accurate.
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