Real Salt Lake, in the midst of a three-game losing skid, is back on the road this week as they travel to Seattle to take on the red-hot Sounders — one of the five remaining unbeaten teams in MLS. RSL will have to do it without an important piece in Damir Kreilach, as he’ll serve a one-game suspension after receiving a red card last week in their 4-2 loss at home to FC Dallas.
RSL holds a slight edge in the overall series through regular season play, with a record of 11-9-4 against the Emerald City club. We can’t forget they’ve met in two separate playoff series while the teams split results, with RSL advancing on a 3-2 aggregate in 2011, and Seattle moving on after a 1-0 aggregate score in 2012.
Recent history is on RSL’s side, as they’ve won the last three straight match-ups against Seattle, which include a 2-0 win at home and a 1-0 win on the road last season, preceded by another 2-0 win at home in 2017. Yes, you read that right — Real Salt Lake has held the Sounders scoreless throughout their last three meetings.
Real Salt Lake
Record: 1-3-1 (4 points)
Table: 8th place (west)
Points per game: 0.8
Most goals: Albert Rusnak (2)
Most assists: Corey Baird (1), Sebastian Saucedo (1), Albert Rusnak (1)
Clean sheets: 1
On a streak — and not the cool kind
Real Salt Lake has managed to lose its last three straight games, starting when DC United (aka Wayne Rooney) handed down that 5-0 thumping. That was followed up by the 2-1 loss against LAFC, which brought us to the 4-2 loss to Paxton Pomykal and the FC Dallas squad. Of course, in all three of those games, RSL was forced to play short-handed as they received four red cards in that timespan. Jefferson Savarino and Marcelo Silva were sent off in DC, while Justin Portillo saw red in Los Angeles, followed by Damir Kreilach receiving his marching orders against FC Dallas last week.
I’ll go ahead and say it: It would be really cool to see what RSL would look like with 11 men on the field for a full game again. Hopefully we’ll see that in Seattle, even though they’ll be without Kreilach while he sits out with suspension.
RSL hasn’t lost a game yet when they’ve kept a full team on the field for the whole 90 minutes. Sure, that only includes two matches — the 1-1 draw in Houston and a 1-0 win at home against Vancouver — but we’ve seen that this team can actually grind out results when they’re healthy and present.
Road struggles again
It’s no secret that RSL has been a less-than-stellar road team over the last few years, and Seattle is no exception. They’ve only pulled off three wins and nine goals at CenturyLink Field in regular season play, while Seattle has come out on top eight times on their home field, scoring 20 goals in the process.
Of their three games away from home this season, they’ve lost two and tied one, pulling just one point from all three of those matches. This weekend would be a chance to prove, against one of the best-looking teams in MLS at the moment, that they can still fight and get results on the road.
OUT: Justen Glad (toe), Joao Plata (ankle), Jordan Allen (knee; out for season), Damir Kreilach (red card)
QUESTIONABLE: Erik Holt (ankle)
Rimando; Lennon, Onuoha, Silva, Herrera; Beckerman, Luiz; Savarino, Rusnak, Saucedo; Baird
Record: 3-0-1 (10 points)
Table: 2nd place (west)
Points per game: 2.5
Most goals: Jordan Morris (3), Raul Ruidiaz (3)
Most assists: Nicolas Lodeiro (3)
Clean sheets: 1
The green is red-hot
Despite coming off a surprising scoreless draw on the road against Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps, the Sounders are certainly one of the top teams in MLS at the moment, notching 10 points through their first four games while outscoring their opponents 10-3. With the return of Jordan Morris and Ruidiaz’s stellar play, combined with Nico Lodeiro’s service from midfield, their attack is one of the best in the league so far.
In some potentially good news for the visitors, it looks as though Raul Ruidiaz may be forced to sit out this weekend, as he looked to pull up with an ankle injury in last week’s game against Vancouver. The forward played 87 minutes, but posted a picture of a swollen and bruised ankle on his Instagram, and apparently has been limited in training this week.
With a congested schedule — the Sounders will play six games in April — it wouldn’t be a surprising move to bench Ruidiaz this weekend regardless of his health, just so coach Brian Schmetzer can be sure he’ll be ready for the rest of the upcoming games.
That would change the game drastically, as Ruidiaz’s three goals and one assist have been crucial to the Sounders’ success this season.
OUT: Harry Shipp (concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: Raul Ruidiaz (ankle)
Frei; Leerdam, Kee-hee, Marshall, Smith; Svensson, Roldan; Morris, Lodeiro, Rodriguez; Bruin
When: Saturday, April 6, 2019, 8:00PM MT
Where: CenturyLink Field — Seattle, WA
Weather: 53 degrees, light rain
Broadcast: KMYU, KSL TV app (streaming), ESPN+ (streaming), ESPN700 (radio)
Referee: Nima Saghafi