The Seattle Sounders again face Real Salt Lake on Saturday at 6:30 PM PT. Matt Montgomery from RSLSoapbox put up with Three Questions again. The questions were exchanged Thursday and Friday.
SaH: Y’all played a game, and won again, midweek. Please tell us that everyone is exhausted?
RSLSB: Yeah! We did! Oh, it was fun, Dave. I wish you could have been there. Some players certainly looked exhausted, but we rested Kyle Beckerman on Wednesday (until he got our winner, which was part of why it was so fun, all told) and we did some of that fabled rotation. I think this will be the highest priority match of the three, if just because everyone knows you’re dangerous. (I’m not just saying that because I like you, though.)
But really, I do think there will be a little more rotation, but it does seem that Petke is the sort of coach who likes to keep rotation to a minimum. Expect maybe two or three changes — maybe Pablo Ruiz returns to the lineup. I dunno.
SaH: No Rusnak, no problem?
RSLSB: I would hesitate to say exactly that, but I think we can adjust without Rusnak. We were fairly creative against Houston — very creative, for part of it — but a lot of that came from wide positions, and Houston played a particularly narrow defensive game against us. I can’t imagine that will work quite as well against the Sounders, so we’ll need to adjust for that. When one door closes, though, another opens, and it’ll be up to whoever plays in that position to figure that out.
I think we have a few options, but I’m betting we see Damir Kreilach in the attacking midfield position again. Will we see Joao Plata to his left, or will Sebastian Saucedo continue to get a chance to produce? What about the right side? Will we still see Jefferson Savarino on the right? I’ve got lots of questions, but I don’t think we’ll have too many huge problems as a result of Rusnak’s absence. Still, we’re definitely not better when he’s out.
SaH: Did you think the Sounders did anything well?
RSLSB: Oh, sure. I don’t think it’s a case of not doing anything well. It’s just that, well, we actually looked prepared for the things you did well. There were some terrifying moments in the first half that really threatened our control of the game. On more than one occasion, you were, what, one pass away from a dangerous spot? In a way, it was surprising that RSL actually dealt well with it, because we simply don’t usually do that.
I think that match showed two teams who are not performing at their best, though. RSL may have come out victors at the other end, but was it a case of them being far and away the better team? I sure don’t think so.
RSLSB: How buoyed are you by the fact that we had a midweek match, while you didn’t? Will the continuity help your side, or does our win on Saturday preclude that?
SaH: Remember last week when I thought Seattle could take advantage of the bad Real Salt Lake attack? That was a perfectly good idea, except for one key problem — the Seattle Sounders will define themselves. It’s not the opposition that is stifling the attack. The offense is troubling itself. Whether facing a good defense or a poor one, the Sounders are struggling. It hasn’t mattered if they are more rested than their opposition, or if they are on short rest.
They must define themselves. There will be no end to their troubles until they end it on their own. It will not matter that RSL is running on fumes, not if Seattle players cannot reclaim what they have been previously.
RSLSB: It’s sure strange that we’re facing each other in back-to-back weekends. You know what’s stranger? Portland has the same situation with us at the end of the year. Are we special, or is MLS doing something weird here? Would you rather we face each other in different parts of the season? It sure seems better for competition.
SaH: I figure MLS did this because they enjoy reading our chats. They certainly didn’t do it for soccer reasons. Schedules like this are another way to unbalance schedules. Right now Portland is pretty good (I feel sick) and RSL doesn’t have to face them, instead they get crappy Seattle. Maybe when RSL does face the Timbers the Timbers will suck (as is right and just).
The normal excuse for quirky scheduling like this is TV, but these games aren’t on national TV. At best they are a byproduct of the national broadcasters trying to avoid this matchup. That’s kind of odd, considering that RSL and SSFC have been pretty darn good (minus small blips) over the past ten years. Back when the schedule was made these were supposed to be two good teams with full stadia, while the quality of the matchup may be reduced now, the schedule remains baffling.
RSLSB: Last time we talked about what you might see as a favorable trade for an RSL player. How about this: Who would you take from RSL, outside of Albert Rusnak? (That one just hits too close to home right now.)
SaH: I can take anyone? That’s easier, it’s Brooks Lennon. No, the Sounders don’t need a right back, but getting young in an outside spot would help over here. His versatility is something that Seattle tends to appreciate too. Maybe here Lennon gets more right mid/left mid time, which would be great, as they need that. They need assists and goals from a player who defends competently. At this point they’d probably put him back at forward, since one of those is lacking.
There’s just no way it’s going to happen. Kid is cheap, young and quality. RSL would be dumb to let him go now that they have him they should never let him wander away again.