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Match preview: RSL hosts defending MLS champions Seattle Sounders

The Seattle Sounders visit Rio Tinto Stadium tonight as they look for their third-straight win since the tournament in Orlando concluded. RSL looks to build off the momentum they found in the second half in Portland last week.

MLS: MLS Cup Conference Semifinals-Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders FC Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of so much happening in the RSL world over the last week, Real Salt Lake will play host to the defending MLS Cup Champions Seattle Sounders in a midweek contest at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Over the years, Real Salt Lake has held a dominating lead over the Sounders when it comes to games played at home — allowing Seattle only one win through 12 games played in the regular season at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL, on the other hand, has put away nine wins along with 21 goals throughout the series in Utah, while two games ended with draws.

The last time they met in Sandy was just over a year ago, when RSL came out on top with a 3-0 win, sending the Sounders packing with zero points. Seattle would return the favor just a couple months later as RSL took a 2-0 loss at CenturyLink Field in the playoffs, when the Sounders continued on to win their second-ever MLS Cup Championship.

Something else to note in this series is that the home side in any given game is more often than not the winner. In fact, in the last 17 regular season matches, the home team has won every single time dating back to the beginning of 2013, save for one match in 2018 when RSL squeaked out a 1-0 victory in Seattle. Aside from that, the home team has always had a resounding advantage.

Will that matter in 2020, though? Since RSL is letting in roughly 5,000 fans to cheer on the claret-and-cobalt, they may have just a slight advantage over home markets who aren’t allowing any in the building at all.

Real Salt Lake

Record: 2-1-4 (10 points)
Table: 5th place (west)
Points per game: 1.43
Most goals: Damir Kreilach (4)
Most assists: Corey Baird (4)
Clean sheets: 3
Form: WDLWD

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Riding high off an unbelievable comeback in Portland, RSL will look to take that momentum into their game with another northwest foe at home. A couple of substitutions seemed to make all the difference in Portland last week, as late-game subs Giuseppe Rossi and Sam Johnson both came on and each bagged a goal, lifting the visitors to a 4-4 draw after heading into the 90th minute down by two.

Rossi has only seen 50 minutes all year, but the six minutes he saw on the field in Portland proved to be essential in the team’s result. This begs the question: When will we see Rossi get more playing time? He’s come on as a late sub in five games this year, the longest of his stints only ending up 19 minutes. A case could be made as to why we should see Rossi get the starting nod after the way he played last game, even if he can’t go a full 90 minutes at this point.

“When Rossi and Sam came in and made a difference and both got a goal which was great for us. It showed the team unity to fight for a result,” said coach Freddy Juarez. “It was a hard game, but we deserved even more. We’ll take the draw and we’ll take what the team did as far as togetherness to fight for that point.”

Corey Baird also had himself a night in Portland, bagging a goal and two assists as he was vital to RSL earning a point on the road.

With all the uncertainty and activity going on with the club right now following the announcement of Dell Loy Hansen’s impending sale and Andy Carroll’s leave of absence as they both have come under fire for racist and misogynistic behavior toward employees and players, it’d be understandable to think that RSL might look in disarray on the field as well. Fortunately that wasn’t the case in Portland, and we hope to see even more of that same play tonight against Seattle.

Also worth noting that Kyle Beckerman will be available again, after serving his two-game suspension after receiving a red card for kicking the ball at the referee after their last match in the MLS is Back tournament.

Absences

OUT: Douglas Martinez (concussion)
DOUBTFUL: Christopher Garcia (non-soccer injury)

Projected Lineup

MacMath; Herrera, Silva, Onuoha, Toia; Luiz, Beckerman; Rusnak, Kreilach, Meram; Baird

Seattle Sounders FC

Record: 4-1-2 (14 points)
Table: 2nd place (west)
Points per game: 2.00
Most goals: Jordan Morris (5), Raul Ruidiaz (5)
Most assists: Nicolas Lodeiro (3)
Clean sheets: 3
Form: DLWWW

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle hasn’t lost either of their games since the MLS is Back tournament concluded, grabbing a big 3-0 win over rivals Portland Timbers, followed up by a commanding 3-1 win at home against LAFC. Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz have led the way this season, each notching five goals while looking like they’re not going to be letting up anytime soon.

In a bit of good news for RSL, though, Ruidiaz suffered a heel contusion during their last game and was subbed off at halftime. While he travelled to Utah with the team, it sounds like he may not get the start due the heel injury, which would force coach Brian Schmetzer to most likely start Will Bruin in his place.

Morris notched two of Seattle’s three goals against LAFC last weekend as he’s off to a great start this season. He scored one goal in the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, while nabbing his other two in the first game of the season when Chicago came to town, lifting the Sounders to a 2-1 victory.

Absences

OUT: Danny Leyva (fractured foot)
QUESTIONABLE: Shandon Hopeau (athletic pubalgia)

Projected Lineup

Frei; Leerdam, O’Neill, Andrade, Nouhou; Svensson, Paulo; Roldan, Lodeiro, Morris; Bruin


Match info

When: Wednesday, September 2, 2020, 7:30PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT

Weather: 77 degrees, clear

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

Referee: Malik Badawi