Eight days ago, Real Salt Lake travelled to Seattle and came back with a hard fought, confidence building 1-0 win over the Sounders on the road. Tonight, we face Seattle again, this time within in the friendly confines of Rio Tinto Stadium, looking to win another 3 points and really get into the playoff mix. What will be the same about this game? What will be different? Let’s talk about it!
Real Salt Lake
In the last two games the Claret and Cobalt have played, they have looked like the dangerous, attacking team that we expected to see coming into the start of the season. The two biggest differences, at least in the last two games, have been Danny Acosta and Bofo Saucedo. Those two have been completely dominating the left side of the pitch, both offensively and defensively. Acosta and Saucedo combined for 117 touches in the game, compared to only 84 touches for their opposing pairing of Lundqvist and Elis, according to statistics from whoscored.com. Their natural ability, tactical awareness, tireless work rates, and familiarity with each other is making them a dynamic duo. Despite this being the 3rd game in 8 days, I expect to see both of them in the starting lineup tonight.
Another thing that I have noticed in this recent run of improved play is that despite rotating in multiple players that haven’t seen a lot of minutes so far in 2018, we have not seen a drop in quality. Coming into the 2018 season, RSL was touted as one of the deepest teams in MLS. Now that the team has started to get healthy, we are starting to see the quality of that depth. Players like Sunny, Nick Besler and Luis Silva all stepped into the lineup seamlessly and were able to effectively outplay a good Houston team on Wednesday. As RSL continues to stay healthy, Mike Petke is going to find himself with a host of difficult decisions on who to play each game.
Unlike RSL, Seattle did not play a game midweek, so they will come into this game more rested than RSL. They also got some good news this week with the return of Victor Rodriguez and Will Bruin from injury. While neither player is expected to start the match, they will provide Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer with additional quality substitution options later in the game. Will it be enough for them to earn a result away from home and start their climb up from the bottom of the table?
According to MLSSoccer.com statistics, so far this season Seattle is scoring an average of only 0.8 goals per game on the road. While allowing an average of 1.6 goals per game on the road. Combine this with RSL’s average of scoring 2 goals per game at home, and you can see that the current statistical trends favor the Claret and Cobalt.
DF: Lennon, M. Silva, Glad, Acosta
MID: Beckerman, Sunny
MID: Savarino, Kreilach, Saucedo
RSL’s keys to the match
- Continue to play confidently. The last few games I have seen something in RSL that up to this point we haven’t seen a lot of: confidence. When Houston leveled the score against RSL Wednesday night the feeling in the stadium was not disappointment. It was belief, and the boys pulled through with the game winning goal. Playing with confidence is infectious, and if the team gets infected with it now, the season can only continue to improve.
- Be wary of proven goalscorers off the bench late in the game. Will Bruin is Seattle’s goal scoring leader this season, with 3 of their 7 total goals. He is likely to make a substitute appearance tonight, so RSL are going to have to be extra aware of his movement and location when he comes in.