Last week’s 1-0 victory at CenturyLink Field was just the latest installment of what has been a back-and-forth series between the two sides. With RSL leading the series with a record of 10W-9L-4D, the teams have been basically dead even since Seattle came into the league in 2009. It’s also worth noting that, until last weekend, the home team in the series had won 13 matches in a row, dating back all the way to March of 2013. However, RSL’s 1-0 win broke that streak as they claimed their first victory on the road this season.
Real Salt Lake
Record: 6-6-1 (19 points)
Table: 5th place (west), 10th place (overall)
Points per game: 1.46 (T-11th in MLS)
Most goals: Joao Plata (3), Albert Rusnak (3), Corey Baird (3)
Most assists: Damir Kreilach (4)
Clean sheets: 3
Defense is happening
Riding high off their two wins in a row, after defeating the Houston Dynamo at home by a score of 2-1 thanks to Kyle Beckerman’s late game winner, RSL continues their winning ways at home, claiming the full three points in 10 of their last 11 home matches. With the defense looking vastly different over the last two games, it’s not a coincidence that those have been Danny Acosta’s first two starts of the season. He has no doubt been one of the best players on the field in both matches, even assisting on Bofo Saucedo’s game-winning goal in Seattle last week.
While the defense looks to be coming together and firing on all cylinders, the attack isn’t half-bad, either. Luis Silva, who made his first start since April, came out and got the scoring started with a pretty goal to take the lead over the Houston Dynamo, pleading his case as to why he should be starting at center forward. Both he and Corey Baird have been making it tough on Mike Petke as far as who should be the preferred starter there, as Baird has been playing an impressive game in that spot as well.
Rusnak-less for one more game
With Albert Rusnak out with the Slovakian national team, Petke opted to move Damir Kreilach up to the number 10 position to fill in. Honestly, Damir looked to be much more comfortable there, notching his fourth assist on the season as he set up the captain’s game-winner. Rusnak will miss the next game against Seattle as well, but there’s no reason to think that Petke will make any changes to the team who played so well for the majority of the Houston match.
Record: 2-6-2 (8 points)
Table: 11th place (west), 22nd place (overall)
Points per game: 0.8 (20thth in MLS)
Most goals: Will Bruin (3)
Most assists: Cristian Roldan (3)
Clean sheets: 1
Death by injuries
There’s no way around it: Seattle is having a rough season. Sitting in second-to-last place, just barely above the lowly Colorado Rapids, with only two wins to their name, they have almost no place to go but up. One could say that their season has been tanked by injuries so far, as there’s no shortage of key players who have been sidelined for much of the year. Look no further than star striker Jordan Morris, who tore his ACL in preseason and will apparently miss the entire season. In his stead, they’ve looked to target man Will Bruin, who leads the team in goals for the year, though he had to sit last week with an injury in the loss to RSL.
Star midfielder Victor Rodriguez has yet to play a game this season, but apparently is back to being match fit and is expected to play against RSL this weekend as well. The same goes for Harry Shipp, who hasn’t made an appearance since the Sounders’ second game back in March.
In addition to injuries, Seattle will be missing three big players who are out on international duty: defender Roman Torres, midfielder Gustav Svensson, and arguably the best player on the team, midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro. These are huge absences for Seattle which will only make the game that much harder for them.
However you want to look at it, it’s been a bad year for the Sounders. They'll obviously hope to turn things around this weekend in Salt Lake, but with the way RSL has been playing — especially at home — it will be no easy feat. Having been shut out in each of their six losses, they’ll be looking for answers.
Real Salt Lake
OUT: Tony Beltran (knee), Jordan Allen (knee), Alex Horwath (achilles surgery), Shawn Barry (knee), Demar Phillips (ankle), Luke Mulholland (back), Albert Rusnak (int’l duty)
QUESTIONABLE: Joao Plata (quad)
OUT: Jordan Morris (ACL), Osvaldo Alonso (quad), Roman Torres (int’l duty), Gustav Svensson (int’l duty), Nicolas Lodeiro (int’l duty)
QUESTIONABLE: Will Bruin (heel), Victor Rodriguez (knee), Handwalla Bwana (foot)
RSL: Rimando; Lennon, M Silva, Glad, Acosta; Sunny, Beckerman; Savarino, Kreilach, Saucedo; L Silva
SEA: Frei; Leerdam, Kee-Hee, Marshall, Tolo; Delem; Eikrem, C Roldan, Dempsey, A Roldan; Bruin
When: Saturday, June 2, 7:30PM MT
Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT
Weather: 80 degrees, clear
Broadcast: KMYU, KSL TV app (streaming), ESPN+ (streaming), ESPN700 (radio)
Referee: Kevin Stott