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Match preview: RSL travels to face best in the west Seattle Sounders

Seattle, sitting at the top of the Western Conference table, plays host to Real Salt Lake. Both teams will be missing several key players.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing 3-1 loss at home to LAFC last weekend, RSL has a quick turnaround as they head on the road to take on the reigning MLS Cup Champions and current Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders.

Real Salt Lake has only won three times in Seattle, the most recent coming in 2018 when they escaped with a narrow 1-0 victory. Of course, the last time these two sides met they ended in a 2-2 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium thanks to a stunning Pablo Ruiz equalizer late in the game.

Real Salt Lake

Record: 4-5-6 (18 points)
Table: 8th place (west)
Points per game: 1.2
Most goals: Damir Kreilach (6)
Most assists: Corey Baird (4), Maikel Chang (4)
Clean sheets: 6
Form: LLWDL

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

With only four wins on the season while they’re barely hanging on to a playoff spot, Real Salt Lake has some work to do if they want to make a real playoff run in this makeshift season.

RSL gave up two very early goals in their last game against LAFC thanks to some obvious defensive mistakes that could have been avoided. Once Sam Johnson came in at halftime, he brought some much-needed energy to the attack in place of Douglas Martinez, and it makes one wonder if Freddy Juarez will opt to start Johnson from the beginning in Seattle in hopes of creating a spark from the first minute.

Unfortunately, RSL will still be missing Albert Rusnak who is off on international duty with Slovakia, and they’ll have to figure out a way to earn some points without him for a big stretch of the final run of games. If we’re being honest, though, Rusnak’s three goals and two assists hasn’t added as much to the season as RSL had hoped, as Damir Kreilach is the current goal-scoring leader with six and seems to be a lot of the engine that runs the attack. Both Corey Baird and Maikel Chang have notched four assists as well.

They’ll also have to figure out a way to concede less goals without the likes of Everton Luiz and Nedum Onuoha shoring up the defense. Pablo Ruiz has been all but a lock at defensive midfield when Beckerman isn’t in the starting 11, or when Kreilach is utilized elsewhere.

Absences

OUT: Everton Luiz (undisclosed injury), Giuseppe Rossi (undisclosed injury), Chris Garcia (undisclosed injury), Nedum Onuoha (undisclosed injury), Albert Rusnak (int’l duty)

Projected Lineup

Putna; Herrera, Glad, Silva, Toia; Ruiz, Beckerman; Chang, Kreilach, Meram; Baird

Seattle Sounders FC

Record: 8-3-3 (27 points)
Table: 1st place (west)
Points per game: 1.93
Most goals: Raul Ruidiaz (9)
Most assists: Jordan Morris (7)
Clean sheets: 4
Form: WWLWW

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Sounders will hope to gain an even further lead in the Western Conference table as they currently sit three points clear of the second-place Portland Timbers. With eight wins on the season, averaging nearly two points per game, they seem by-and-large to be the best team in the west this season.

Jordan Morris is having another solid season as he starts to separate himself from the pack with seven goals and seven assists in 14 games so far this season. Combining with the nine goals and three assists from Raul Ruidiaz, they’re a strike partnership that just may be one of the most lethal in the league.

However, Seattle will be missing a good amount of important players, including Ruidiaz, Gustav Svensson, and Xavier Arreaga who will all be out on international duty. In addition, speedster Joevn Jones looks to be out with an ankle sprain. The Sounders of course will still have the likes of Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris, and Joao Paulo pushing for goals, so it doesn’t quite mean RSL is off the hook.

The Sounders will look to extend their winning streak to three, as they’ve won four of their last five outings in which they’ve outscored their opponents 16-4 overall.

Absences

OUT: Danny Leyva (foot), Joevin Jones (ankle), Trey Muse (concussion), Xavier Arrega (int’l duty), Raul Ruidiaz (int’l duty), Gustav Svensson (int’l duty)

Projected Lineup

Frei; Leerdam, Gomez, O’Neill, Smith; Delem, Paulo; C. Roldan, Lodeiro, Morris; Bruin


Match info

When: Wednesday, October 7, 8:00PM MT

Where: CenturyLink Field — Seattle, WA

Weather: 64 degrees, clear

Broadcast: KMYU, KSL TV app (streaming), ESPN+ (streaming), ESPN700 (radio)