Freddy Juarez To Grace Rio Tinto Stadium Sideline For First Time As Seattle Assistant
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders are to meet this upcoming Saturday evening from Rio Tinto Stadium in a fixture that will likely cause a great amount of tension.
Most notably, the return of former manager Freddy Juarez to the Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time since his shock departure from the club. On August 27th it was announced that Juarez had departed Real Salt Lake effective immediately and had stepped down from his position as manager.
Shortly thereafter, news broke that Juarez was leaving Real Salt Lake to work under Brian Schmetzer at the Seattle Sounders. The news rocked the North American soccer community.
Since then, Pablo Mastroeni has been acting as the interim manager. Real Salt Lake has played four games since August 27th and has won and lost on two occasions.
However, the energy of the Real Salt Lake players has risen.
It took a week or so for the realization of what happened to settle in. Juarez had essentially quit on his players. He left them stranded for an opportunity that he felt was more fruitful.
Mastroeni’s leadership throughout the chaos has proved pivotal in allowing the playing group to recover and forge forward.
Real Salt Lake Injury Concerns & Shape
The injury list for Real Salt Lake continues to mount. Noah Powder, Andrew Brody, Zac MacMath, and Aaron Herrera are all listed as questionable. While Zack Farnsworth, Bobby Wood, and Marcelo Silva are listed as out.
Since Mastroeni has taken over as interim manager he has displayed courage. He has instilled a new shape in the team as he has varied away from the traditional 4-2-3-1 formation and implemented a 3-5-2.
The shape of the team still needs a lot of work, specifically in the defensive half as Real Salt Lake has conceded multiple soft goals to their opponents. However, the attacking phase of the game has been transformed overnight. Real Salt Lake is finding space and subsequently creating a lot more goal-scoring chances.
Real Salt Lake ranks second in the Western Conference having scored 40 goals on the year, three goals shy of the conference leaders Sporting Kansas City.
Under Mastroeni, Real Salt Lake has scored 10 goals and conceded 12.
The Seattle Sounders
The Sounders enter the fixture having beaten Minnesota at home 1-0 on September 11th. Three days later they beat Santos Laguna in the Leagues Cup semi-final 1-0.
They are currently second in the west, 1 point shy of Sporting Kansas City, and 12 points clear of Real Salt Lake.
Over the past six MLS fixtures, Seattle has only lost once. That loss coming at home against the Portland Timbers who secured three points via a 2-0 margin on August 29.
No team in the Western Conference possesses the defensive structure and execution like the Sounders. Through 23 games, Seattle has only conceded 19 goals while adding 36 goals scored to their tally. In contrast, Real Salt Lake has scored 40 goals but has conceded on 35 occasions.
The main injury concern for Seattle ahead of the fixture remains with Nico Lodeiro who has been battling injury for over a month. His availability remains questionable.
Fortunately, the long list of stars that Seattle has at its disposal remains relatively healthy. With Cristian Roldan, Fredy Montero, and Raúl Ruidíaz all headlining the attack. Will Bruin comes off the bench and offers firepower in the attack as the game comes to a conclusion.
Seattle is formidable. They play in a 3-4-3 and can hurt opponents by building out of the back and on the counter-attack. They are very elusive, to say the least.
Real Salt Lake and Seattle will kickoff from Rio Tinto Stadium on September 18th at 7:30 p.m.
The match will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports & KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.