There are a few reasons I look forward to seeing Real Salt Lake. They play a generally enjoyable game is first, but the rest are little different. It took them five years to get to be as good as Seattle was in 2009. Salt Lake barely edged out Seattle for the expansion team back then, and sometimes I wonder what would have been different. And then I realize that I like what happened here in the end. Only one team has more wins than the Seattle Sounders since 2009 and they are trying their hardest to let Seattle catch them. No team has more trophies. But, Salt Lake did manage to draw their way to the MLS Cup here in Seattle, something that any stakeholder in the Sounders wants to see in 2012.
This match provides a testing ground. RSL is a quality team that will only be weakened at a position or two. Seattle will be similarly diminished. The Sounders are a much better defensive team than Salt Lake, by nearly every measure. While the squad from Utah is a bit better offensively, it isn't significantly so. Most of that "better" is related to passing in the central third, which doesn't mean much.
In tonight's game pay particular attention to how the Sounders forwards work the back line. They should be able to come in at the elbows as the Salt Lake fullbacks have to provide width due to the diamond. Also look to Seattle's central midfield unit to force adjustments to the shape of said diamond. When Kreis' diamond works, it works well, but forcing it into unfamiliar shapes will force Luis Gil to change his intended passes. He likely doesn't have the experience to deal with that shift. Rimando is recently injured and short. Both of those mean he will be weaker than typical on wide shots - force him to save what he normally could. On defense, beware of divers. Saborio can change the game with just one timed embellishment, don't fall victim. Seattle is better in run-of-play and in non-pk dead balls. This is a winnable match - five in fifteen.
The game is on KONG 6/16 and 97.3 FM (99.3 FM for Spanish radio) at 7 PM Pacific.
Pre Match Build-up: Three Questions | Scouting Report | Healthy lineup, or not?| Team Notes (pdf) | Tickets
Team Statistics Matchups
Pass Completion Advantage
Run of Play
- Mis-shape the Diamond
- Elbow Play
- Beware the Dive
- Low, Wide Shots
- Eddie Johnson v Jamison Olave
- Fredy Montero v Kyle Beckerman
- Jhon Kennedy Hurtado v Alvaro Saborio
How We're Watching *
Where I'm Watching:
Nos Audietis In Somniis | Nos Audietis In Altum
* this will be the first home MLS match I've missed. The rest of the staff have you covered.