Real Salt Lake Hopeful To Remain Undefeated Away From Home, Gift Seattle First Loss Of Season
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake is visiting Seattle in their first midweek MLS clash against undoubtedly the best team they have played thus far this season. How will RSL handle themselves? What should fans expect to see when RSL battles the best in the land?
RSL Road Warriors
Firstly, it is worth noting that RSL is undefeated on the road in 2021. Albeit has only played two games away from Rio Tinto Stadium in seven fixtures so far.
But, the manner in which RSL operates on the road will have all of the attention of the Seattle Sounders.
Road games in MLS are difficult. The impact on long trips across the country has been proven to be a challenge for every MLS club over the years. Fortunately, the trek up to the pacific north-west is only a bunny hop away from the mountains of Salt Lake City.
RSL has the weapons to perform in road games. Generally speaking, the road team gives up possession against the away team in MLS. RSL will likely surrender possession against Seattle and will look to counter-attack when the opportunities arise.
The speed of Anderson Julio and the ability of Rubio Rubin will play a key role in the midweek fixture. Seattle must be wary of the dangers in which RSL possesses. In both road games thus far, both Julio and Rubin have been instrumental in RSL’s success.
When RSL opened their season on the road against Minnesota United, Julio scored both of RSL’s goals in their 2-1 win and Rubin was credited with both assists.
Then, in their second road test against FC Dallas on May 22nd, Rubin scored the opening goal of the game.
The speed in which RSL possesses in their attacking third is utilized more on the road than it is at home because of the space that becomes available on the road when RSL surrenders possession. The backline operates deep into its own half, often providing a lot of space in between the opponent’s backline and the goalkeeper for RSL’s speedsters to utilize.
The Power Of The Sounders
But make no mistake, Seattle is the best team in the land and possesses their own threats going forward.
They are yet to lose a game in 2021. They look to be just as good as their previous five-year record would suggest. They have played in three of the past five MLS Cup Finals and are annually respected as one of the premier clubs in MLS. The year 2021 is no different.
The same core of players exist, led by the captain Nicolás Lodeiro but accompanied by Cristian Roldan, Raúl Ruidíaz and Fredy Montero who joined via Vancouver Whitecaps during the off-season.
The Sounders are a juggernaut in the Western Conference and have very few, if any, concerns within their starting XI.
However, injuries have played a role for the Sounders already in 2021. Key shot-stopper Stefan Frei is injured after suffering blood clots following an injury that he sustained against San Jose Earthquakes on May 12 and will be unavailable against RSL.
While captain Lodeiro has been hampered by a knee injury that he has been recovering from since late last year. He underwent a small arthroscopic procedure at the end of May and is a slight chance to return against RSL although his impact will be likely minimal given the nature of the injury and his age.
Nonetheless, despite the injuries for Seattle, they have proven to be dangerous through the first nine games of the season.
They attack through various avenues. They enjoy moving the football through the center of the park and are not afraid to take the ball out wide and utilize the pockets of space that present themselves on the flanks.
Without question, RSL is talented enough to pick up a result on the road against Seattle. But the willingness to defend as a unit and the ability to pick and choose when to move the ball forward will be pivotal in doing so.
RSL enters the contest with a full roster and nobody listed on the injury list. Bobby Wood will hope to find a seat on the bench, after he was left off the squad that beat Vancouver at home on June 18. Wood is battling fitness as he returns to competitive soccer following a two-month stint when he patiently waited for the birth of his second child in Europe.
RSL and Seattle will kick off at 8 p.m. and will be available via a free stream on the KSL 5 TV and KSL Sports apps and on KSL Sports dot com.