The Seattle Sounders are traveling to Utah to take on Real Salt Lake this weekend on the back of their exciting extra-time win over San Diego Loyal in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday. This is the first time this season the Sounders will be playing an opponent for the second time. RSL is also coming off an extra-time USOC win, and like Seattle, they didn’t use too many starters midweek. Can the Sounders dominate RSL like they did just last month? Let’s see.
One key stat
12 — The Sounders are winless in their last 12 league visits to Rio Tinto Stadium/America First Field.
What the Sounders will try to do
Arguably the best that Seattle has played this season was when they completely dismantled Salt Lake in March. The score line was only 2-0, but the Sounders dominated every phase of the game and it was that performance that got the attention of national pundits. This weekend might be a little less showy and a little more workman-like, though.
The Sounders haven’t won a regular-season match in Sandy, Utah since 2011. They won a playoff game there in 2012 and a USOC match in 2016, although that was on penalties. For whatever reason, RSL’s stadium is a cursed ground for Seattle.
The big questions around the Sounders at the moment is what they’ll do at the right midfielder and striker positions. At this stage of proceedings, we can likely assume that Cristian Roldan will not feature on Saturday. Either position could deploy Jordan Morris, but that has knock-on effects for the rest of the team. Should Morris start on the wing, Albert Rusnák will slide back into midfield and Heber would start at striker. If Morris is starting up top, Rusnák will probably play on the wing and Obed Vargas would slot into the midfield. Morris on the wing is the more aggressive move, I think.
What Real Salt Lake will try to do
Not a lot has changed for RSL since the Sounders handily beat them last month. The Claret and Cobalt are not a very good soccer team and they’re very boring. This weekend, though, is the first time they’ll play a team for the second time this season so there’s at least a chance they can learn some lessons.
The one interesting about RSL is almost all of their goals have come in the second half. Seriously, they’ve only scored 1 goal in the first half this season. In all three of their wins this season, they’ve either come from behind or their opponents have equalized and RSL has gone on to win. Something to keep an eye on even if the Sounders are in the lead in the second half.
The Sounders are coming off an exciting Open Cup win against San Diego Loyal. There’s still some lingering injuries that could be a mood killer, but there’s a chance to do something this weekend that Seattle hasn’t done in twelve years: win in Utah. It’ll be hard work, but this RSL team is there for the taking.
How close to full strength is everyone?
- The Sounders are still without, Cristian Roldan, Nouhou and Raul Ruidiaz for this one.
- RSL’s bench may be a little light with injuries, but they aren’t missing any starters.
Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; Rowe, Ragen, Yeimar A. Roldan; Rusnak, JP; Chu, Lodeiro, Morris; Heber
Real Salt Lake (4-2-4): MacMath; Hidalgo, Glad, Silva, Oviedo; Ruiz, Caldwell; Savarino, Rubin, Musovski, Gomez
What you need to know
Sounders record (2nd in the West, 4th in the Shield): 6-2-1, +10 GD
Real Salt Lake record (9th in the West, 19th in the Shield): 3-5-0, -7 GD
Where: America First Field, Sandy, Utah
Kickoff time: 6:39pm PT
Commentators (AppleTV): Adrian Healey and Cobi Jones