Real Salt Lake Looks To Bounce Back In Seattle
SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake will head up to Seattle to face the Sounders this Saturday at 8 p.m. in hopes of breaking a three game losing streak.
Seattle, on the other hand, are hoping to get back to their winning ways after suffering their first draw of the season last weekend against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Prior to last weekend, the Sounders were unbeaten through three weeks of Major League Soccer action.
Real Salt Lake will be without key midfielder, Damir Kreilach after the Croatian was sent off for a head butt in the 17th minute of the 4-2 loss to FC Dallas. It was the fourth red card in three games for Real Salt Lake, which comes as a surprise considering no RSL player was shown red during the entire 2018 season.
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) March 31, 2019
Kreilach was given the all clear by MLS to suit up for RSL’s USL Championship team, the Real Monarchs on Saturday in Herriman, Utah.
In The Mix
Striker Joao Plata suffered a lower leg injury after he came off the bench against the Houston Dynamo in the first week of the season. He has been listed as “probable” for Saturday’s game in Seattle.
Defender Justen Glad broke his toe in training days prior to the first game against the Dynamo. He has not seen any MLS action this year, but has also been listed as “probable” for this week.
Real Salt Lake have won the past three encounters over the Sounders. You have to go back to May 20th, 2017 to find the last time Seattle beat RSL. Can RSL continue their rare run of form against a powerhouse in the west this weekend?
The Past five encounters:
- June 2, 2018: RSL 2 – 0 SEA at Rio Tinto Stadium
- May 26, 2018: SEA 0 – 1 RSL at Century Link Field
- Sep 23, 2017: RSL 2 – 0 SEA at Rio Tinto Stadium
- May 20, 2017: SEA 1 – 0 RSL at Century Link Field
- Oct 23, 2016: SEA 2 – 1 RSL at Century Link Field
While Real Salt Lake has performed well over the past three confrontations with Seattle, the record does not speak admirably for the visitors this weekend. When Seattle is playing at home against the Claret and Cobalt, Seattle has won 8 times and scored 20 goals while RSL has only won 3 times and scored 9 times, there has only been 2 ties between the teams at Century Link Field.
Key Players For Seattle
Raúl Ruidíaz is one of Seattle’s designated players. The Peruvian international plays the role of striker for the Sounders and has already scored three times through four games this season. Ruidíaz joined Seattle in 2017, coming from Liga MX team Monarcas Morelia, where he scored 20 goals in 38 appearances. Ruidíaz is fast and can get in and behind the back four of defenses at ease, the manner in which he makes runs off defenders shoulders and into space is world class.
Two goals in as many games to start the MLS season for Raúl Ruidíaz.
He has 15 goals in 18 appearances since joining the Seattle Sounders.pic.twitter.com/0RA744sAXj
— The Peruvian Waltz (@PeruWaltz) March 16, 2019
Captain Nicolás Lodeiro is another one of Seattle’s designated players. The experienced Uruguayan is the leader in the midfield for the Sounders, who controls the midfield and already has three assists next to his name in 2019. Limiting Lodeiro’s presence will be a high priority for Mike Petke and RSL this week, however doing so can be easier said than done.
The Game Plan
Finishing the game with 11 men will be crucial for Real Salt Lake.
Aside from the obvious, RSL will need to control the pace and tempo of the game. Going on the road in MLS is incredibly difficult, the teams that succeed are often those who play the game on their own terms. FC Dallas last week is a great example, anytime RSL started building momentum, Dallas was able to answer and suck the energy out of the stadium.
Defending is always a priority, but against the Sounders who have scored ten times already this season, the likes of defenders Nedum Onuoha and Marcelo Silva will have their hands full. Brooks Lennon and Aaron Herrera will also need to be careful, choosing the right time to push forward and help out the attack could prove the difference on Saturday.
RSL will need to make the most of their opportunities. This season, Real has scored five times from seventeen shots on goal.
With Kreilach not being available due to red card suspension, expect midfielder Albert Rusnak to start at center attacking midfield. Who will start at striker? Will Sam Johnson finally get a full game to prove his worth? Or will Petke go back to the reliable boots of Corey Baird?
The match against Seattle will kick off from Century Link Field on Saturday at 8 p.m.
The game can be streamed on KSLSports.com or on the KSL TV app.
KSLSports.com in collaboration with Real Salt Lake launched a new podcast this week titled “The Lion’s Den.” Special guest and RSL right back, Brooks Lennon, joined Tom Hackett, Spencer Warne and Matt Gaschk and talked about his national team hopes and the season thus far.
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