Blog

Seattle Sounders FC

05 November 3:51 pm

Real Salt Lake is a veteran-laden team with loads of playoff experience.  That much is known.

But just how much more experienced in the rigors of the MLS Cup Playoffs than any other team in MLS was on display in the first legs of the Western Conference Semifinal Series that were played over the weekend.

After play in the first legs, Nick Rimando’s 32 career postseason matches was more than the 11 starters from FC Dallas (30), the Columbus Crew (30) and the New England Revolution (29), even after Dallas had played two playoff games this year.

Of the eight Conference Semifinalists, no team comes close to touching the 171 total playoff games from Real Salt Lake’s starting 11 against the Galaxy.  LA was the nearest competition with 130 career playoff matches, followed by D.C. United with 94 and Seattle Sounders FC with 87.

Real Salt Lake’s back six alone – Rimando, Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert and Kyle Beckmeran – combine for 127 career postseason matches.  That is significantly more than any other team’s starting 11 outside of the Galaxy.

Below is the full chart of the playoff experience for the starting lineups from the Western Conference semifinal first leg matches.

Real Salt Lake – 171
LA Galaxy – 130
D.C. United – 94
Seattle Sounders FC – 87
New York Red Bulls – 78
FC Dallas – 30
Columbus Crew – 30
New England Revolution – 29

25 October 11:59 pm

With its regular season wrapped up on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Chivas USA at Rio Tinto Stadium, Real Salt Lake sat back on Saturday and watched the rest of the Western Conference battle for playoff positioning in a day full of excitement.

First, Seattle Sounders FC topped the LA Galaxy 2-0 at CenturyLink Field to claim the Supporters’ Shield and knock the Galaxy into the No. 2 seed.  Then the Portland Timbers went on the road to top FC Dallas 2-0 at Toyota Stadium, putting RSL in the No. 3 seed, FC Dallas at No. 4 and, temporarily, the Timbers at No. 5.  Then to close out the day, Vancouver Whitecaps FC sealed the fifth seed with a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids at BC Place.

What this all means for RSL is a playoff clash with the LA Galaxy for the fourth time in the last six postseasons.

Here is a quick run-down of the previous three match-ups, starting in the 2009 MLS Cup Final.

2009
Salt Lake and LA met for the MLS Cup at CenturyLink Field in Seattle (then called Qwest Field).  With an MLS Cup record crowd of 46,011 in attendance, the two teams played toe-to-toe for 120 minutes without a victor determined.  Mike Magee scored in the 41st minute to give the Galaxy a first-half lead, but RSL answered in the 64th minute with a goal from Robbie Findley.

In the shootout, both teams made their first two attempts and missed their third.  Landon Donovan skied his effort in the fourth round and Ned Grabavoy converted his.  However, Salt Lake could not find a match-winner until the seventh round.  Nick Rimando saved Edson Buddle’s shot, his second save of the shootout, and Robbie Russell converted his to give the MLS Cup to Real Salt Lake.

2011
After ousting Sounders FC 3-2 in the Western Conference semifinal, RSL went on the road to the Western Conference final to face the LA Galaxy, who won the Supporters’ Shield and topped the New York Red Bulls 3-1 in the semis.

With just one game determining the Conference champions, LA jumped out to an early lead with Donovan converting a penalty in the 23rd minute.  Alvaro Saborio responded with a goal of his own in the 25th minute, but LA would storm back with two second-half goals from Magee and Robbie Keane to send the Galaxy to the MLS Cup Final, where it bested the Houston Dynamo 1-0.

2013
Last year, the two teams met in the Western Conference semifinal over a two-legged series.  It opened at the StubHub Center where Sean Franklin netted the only goal in the 48th minute.  Going back to Rio Tinto Stadium, RSL evened the series on a 35th minute goal from Sebastian Velasquez, sending the series to extra time.  There, Chris Schuler scored in the 103rd minute and RSL held on to advance to the Conference final.

With that deep-seeded rivalry in place, the matchup this year is bound to be dramatic.

The 2014 Western Conference Semifinal series starts on Saturday, Nov. 1, at Rio Tinto Stadium.  For ticket information, visit http://bit.ly/12D6VER.

10 October 2:21 pm

Real Salt Lake will have another chance to clinch a playoff berth tonight, as a Vancouver Whitecaps FC loss will secure RSL a spot in the postseason. The ‘Caps take on Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field at 8:00 p.m. MT. The match will be nationally broadcast on NBCSN.

So after tonight’s USA v. Ecuador match (5:00 p.m. MT, ESPN), make sure to catch the Cascadia Cup clash and hope Seattle and can take of business at home.

All RSL Playoff Scenarios

Real Salt Lake will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs IF

  • Real Salt Lake win vs San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday

OR

  • Real Salt Lake tie vs San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday AND
  • Vancouver Whitecaps FC tie vs. Seattle Sounders FC on Friday

OR

  • Vancouver Whitecaps FC lose vs. Seattle Sounders FC on Friday
17 September 2:36 pm

In the wake of Real Salt Lake’s disappointing stoppage-time loss at Seattle Sounders FC last Friday, the fantastic buildup play that led to Javier Morales’ opening goal got a little lost. The lead up to the 30th minute goal was fantastic, with RSL putting together 16 passes to find the Argentine open in the box, who then put away his eighth goal of the year. The pass sequence continues to show why RSL is considered one of the best possession-based teams in the league and just how methodical the Claret-and-Cobalt can be when behind the ball. Unfortunately, the night did not end well for the visitors, but RSL will have the chance to bounce back this Friday, when it hosts a struggling Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium (8:00 p.m. MT, CW30) Check out the great sequence above.

10 September 1:34 pm

The forward dilemma

For the first time this year, Real Salt Lake has a full arsenal of healthy and available forwards for head coach Jeff Cassar to choose from for Friday’s critical clash at Seattle Sounders FC. Head coach Jeff Cassar will have a difficult decision to make with Joao Plata, Olmes Garcia, Robbie Findley, Sebastian Jaime and now Alvaro Saborio all up for selection. Devon Sandoval and Benji Lopez are both healthy but are unlikely to appear as Sandoval is currently on a short-term loan with North Carolina Railhawks and Lopez has yet to see any first time minutes.

Friday’s match at CenturyLink Field will provide an opportunity for RSL to gain much needed ground in the Supporters’ Shield race, so choosing the best pair to start will be imperative. RSL’s 2-1 win over FC Dallas saw Robbie Findley notch his first goal of the year, making his case to earn a second-straight start on Friday. The match also saw the MLS debut of Argentine striker Sebastian Jaime who subbed on in the 67th minute, and the return of Alvaro Saborio who scored the game-winner just 14 seconds after entering the match in the 76th minute. RSL’s 2014 leading goal scorer and regular starter Joao Plata will be back from international duty with Ecuador, but after playing last Saturday and a week of travel, might serve as an option off the bench.

After dealing with multiple injuries and international absences, Real Salt Lake now has a plethora of dangerous attackers. With the positive development come new challenges, as finding out how best to use them will be the Claret-and-Cobalt’s next big task.

Will RSL be able to quell the deadly duo of Dempsey and Martins?

Real Salt Lake will likely face the lethal forward duo of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins for the first time on Friday. Seattle Sounders FC was without Dempsey in the clubs’ first meeting of the year on May 31 due to international duty, which saw the Cascadia club end RSL’s 12-game unbeaten start to the season with a 4-0 thumping at CenturyLink Field. In the clubs’ second encounter on Aug. 16, RSL pulled off a 2-1 win at Rio Tinto Stadium in a match that did not feature Martins who was serving a red card suspension.

Dempsey and Martins have been incredibly dangerous this year with Martins leading the Seattle club in goals and assists with 12 tallies and nine helpers. Dempsey has also been fruitful this year, notching 11 goals and six assists on the season. Dempsey and Martins have a combined total of 18 goals scored when on the field together, with the U.S. Men’s National team Captain only scoring this year when Martins is playing. The Cascadia club has been prolific on a whole, notching a total of 48 goals this season, second most in the league behind LA Galaxy.

Real Salt Lake will have to be especially wary of the dynamic pair on Seattle’s home turf, with the Sounders unbeaten in its last four games at CenturyLink Field. The Pacific Northwest side enters Friday’s match on a three-game win streak and four-game unbeaten run.

Major implications for Supporters’ Shield

Real Salt Lake will be looking for three points on Friday, as the race for the Supporters’ Shield heats up with just seven games remaining in the regular season. Real Salt Lake will need rack up points if it is to remain a contender, with Seattle sitting first with 51 points and 16 wins, followed by L.A. with 49 points and 14 wins and then D.C. United with 47 points and 14 wins. Seattle, L.A. and D.C. all claim higher goal differentials – the second tiebreaker if even on points and number of wins at the end of the season. The Claret-and-Cobalt has found measured success at Seattle, posting a 2-3-2 regular season record at CenturyLink Field.

Supporters’ Shield Standings as of 9/10

#

Club

PTS

GP

PPG

W

L

T

GF

GA

GD

HG

HGD

RG

RGD

1

Seattle Sounders FC

51

26

1.96

16

7

3

48

35

13

22

11

26

2

2

LA Galaxy

49

26

1.88

14

5

7

54

27

27

33

22

21

5

3

D.C. United

47

27

1.74

14

8

5

42

30

12

25

14

17

-2

4

Real Salt Lake

46

27

1.7

12

5

10

42

32

10

24

11

18

-1

5

FC Dallas

42

27

1.56

12

9

6

46

36

10

26

9

20

1

6

Sporting Kansas City

42

28

1.5

12

10

6

39

34

5

21

5

18

0

7

New England Revolution

39

27

1.44

12

12

3

39

38

1

23

11

16

-10

8

Columbus Crew

36

27

1.33

9

9

9

38

34

4

22

8

16

-4

9

Philadelphia Union

36

27

1.33

9

9

9

43

41

2

23

4

20

-2

10

Portland Timbers

35

27

1.3

8

8

11

47

46

1

28

0

19

1

11

New York Red Bulls

34

26

1.31

8

8

10

41

39

2

28

10

13

-8

12

Vancouver Whitecaps

34

26

1.31

7

6

13

33

34

-1

20

2

13

-3

13

Toronto FC

33

26

1.27

9

11

6

35

42

-7

17

-2

18

-5

14

Houston Dynamo

31

26

1.19

9

13

4

31

48

-17

21

3

10

-20

15

Colorado Rapids

30

27

1.11

8

13

6

37

46

-9

22

9

15

-18

16

Chicago Fire

29

26

1.12

5

7

14

33

39

-6

16

1

17

-7

17

San Jose Earthquakes

27

25

1.08

6

10

9

32

36

-4

19

1

13

-5

18

Chivas USA

24

27

0.89

6

15

6

23

47

-24

10

-15

13

-9

19

Montreal Impact

20

26

0.77

5

16

5

29

48

-19

17

-2

12

-17

 

30 May 10:10 am

Real Salt Lake will look to continue its unbeaten start to the season on Saturday, travelling to Seattle to face the Sounders at 2:00 pm. MT at CenturyLink Field.

Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of Saturday’s clash:

Will RSL break the all-time record for longest unbeaten start to a season?

If Real Salt Lake produces a result on Saturday, the Claret-and-Cobalt will enter the MLS record books, breaking the record for longest unbeaten streak to start a season at 13 games. RSL tied the all-time record last Saturday, earning a 0-0 draw against FC Dallas to join the 1996 and 2010 LA Galaxy and 2000 Kansas City Wizards atop the record books.

RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar will also be looking to take sole possession of a MLS record on Saturday. Cassar is currently tied with 1996 LA Head Coach Lothar Osiander for longest unbeaten streak to start a managerial career at 12 games. A result at Seattle on Saturday would give Cassar the record on his own.

First-place on the line in battle between top two teams in MLS

It’s early days yet, but Saturday’s match could have a significant impact on the 2014 Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield races. Seattle currently sits atop both tables with 26 points, two points ahead of second-place RSL, which has a game in hand on the Sounders. With the way things are shaping up in MLS, all three matches between these two sides figure to be crucial for the playoff race, with Saturday’s contest the first test.

With both teams suffering major absences due to the World Cup, whose depth will shine?

RSL and Seattle will both be missing key players on Saturday due to international absences and injuries. Saturday’s contest will be the third straight match that RSL will be without Captain Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando and the third straight contest that Seattle will be missing leading goal scorer Clint Dempsey and young right back DeAndre Yedlin. All four players have been named to U.S. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23-man World Cup roster and will be heading to Brazil next month.

RSL has also been without striker Alvaro Saborio for its last two matches. Saborio was with the Costa Rican national team in World Cup preparation camp before suffering a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot on Thursday. The injury will keep Saborio out for the next 3-4 months.

Plata doubtful for Saturday

RSL forward Joao Plata has been on fire for the Claret-and-Cobalt this season, scoring six goals (tied with Saborio for the team lead) and notching three assists in nine appearances this year. Unfortunately for RSL, Plata might not have a chance to showcase his skills at Seattle on Saturday after injuring his left hamstring in last week’s match against FC Dallas. Plata – who missed three games earlier this year with an injury to the same hamstring – is doubtful for Saturday’s contest. RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar will have forwards Devon Sandoval, Olmes Garcia and Robbie Findley to choose from to start on Saturday. All three have yet to find the back of the net for the Claret-and-Cobalt this year.