Preview: RSL at Seattle Sounders FC
SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake (14-8-6, 48 points, West #1) will take on Seattle Sounders FC (14-8-4, 46 points, West #2) in a crucial top of the table clash on Friday, traveling to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Sounders at 8:00 p.m. MT in a nationally televised match at CenturyLink Field.
Friday’s match will be televised nationally on the NBC Sports Network and can be heard locally on the radio on ESPN 700 AM and 102.3 La Gran D FM/1600 AM. ESPN 700 will begin its pregame coverage at 7:00 p.m. and will air an hour-long postgame show immediately following the final whistle. Friday’s broadcast will be the third of three national TV games for RSL this regular season.
Real Salt Lake and Seattle enter Friday’s contest as the top-two teams in the league, with the Claret-and-Cobalt sitting atop the Supporters’ Shield and Western Conference tables with 48 points and Seattle – which has two games in hand on RSL – just two points behind. Seattle currently leads the league in points per game with 1.77, holding a narrow advantage in the category over the Montreal Impact (1.73 PPG) and Real Salt Lake (1.71). RSL would leapfrog the Sounders in points per game with a win on Friday.
RSL and Sounders FC have already met twice this season, with the Claret-and-Cobalt winning both contests. RSL got early goals from FW Robbie Findley and MF Luis Gil to top Seattle 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 30 and then got goals on either side of halftime from Findley and Captain Kyle Beckerman to topple the Sounders 2-0 at home on June 22.
Friday’s match could be a potential MLS Cup Playoff preview. RSL and Seattle squared off in the playoffs in 2011 and 2012, with the Claret-and-Cobalt downing Seattle 3-2 on aggregate in the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals and Seattle exacting revenge with a 1-0 aggregate win over RSL in the 2012 West Semis.
RSL has been very strong against MLS’s three Cascadian clubs over the last two seasons, posting a 10-2-4 record in all competitions against the Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC since the start of 2012. The Claret-and-Cobalt is 2-1-4 across all comps on the road at the Cascadian clubs during that span, including a 1-0-3 mark Seattle’s at CenturyLink Field. Should RSL continue its Cascadian dominance on Friday, it will have to do so in front of an extremely large crowd. Seattle – which usually restricts attendance at CenturyLink Field to a little under 40,000 – has opened up the entire stadium for Friday’s affair, with full capacity reaching upwards of 67,000.
Friday’s game will also mark the return of two U.S. internationals to each side, with Beckerman and GK Nick Rimando returning to RSL and MF Clint Dempsey and FW Eddie Johnson linking back up with Seattle following the U.S.’s World Cup clinching 2-0 win over Mexico in Columbus on Tuesday. Beckerman, Dempsey and Johnson all played for the U.S. on Tuesday, with Beckerman and Dempsey going the full 90 and Johnson scoring a goal in 75 minutes of action. Rimando dressed but did not play for the Stars-and-Stripes.
A win on Friday would make RSL the first team in MLS’s post-shootout era to reach the 15-win and 50-point plateaus for the fourth consecutive season. D.C. United’s 2005, 2006 and 2007 teams and LA’s 2010, 2011 and 2012 squads are the only other teams to have three consecutive 15-win, 50-point seasons.
Seattle enters Friday’s match as the hottest team in the league, winning seven of its last eight MLS matches and carrying a 12-game home regular season unbeaten streak. Seattle won two matches last week, defeating Chivas USA 1-0 at home on Wednesday, Sept. 4 and beating the Chicago Fire 2-1 at CenturyLink Field last Saturday, Sept. 7.
The Real Salt Lake Reserves will also be in action this weekend, taking on Seattle Sounders FC Reserves at 1:00 p.m. MT on Saturday at Starfire Sports Complex. The RSL Reserves will wrap up the MLS Reserve League season on Tuesday, Sept. 24, hosting the Chivas USA Reserves at 11:00 a.m. MT at America First Field.
The RSL first-team will return home for its next match, taking on the San Jose Earthquakes next Saturday, Sept. 21 at 7:00 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium. A limited number of tickets to the RSL-San Jose match are still available and can be purchased at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online at www.RealSaltLake.com/Tickets or over the phone at 801-727-2700.
How to Follow Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders FC
- Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. MT at CenturyLink Field in Seattle
- TV: NBC Sports Network
- English Radio: ESPN 700 AM (Pregame begins at 7:00 p.m. MT)
- Spanish Radio: La Gran D 102.3 FM & Juan 1600 AM
- Online: The @RealSaltLake Twitter Feed will provide live match updates
Game Guide for Saturday’s RSL-SEA Match Now Available Online
RSL History v. Seattle Sounders FC
Real Salt Lake has a strong regular season record against Seattle Sounders FC, posting a 5-2-4 record against the Washington side during league play. RSL is 6-5-5 against Seattle in all competitions, with the Claret-and-Cobalt going 1-1-0 in its 2011 Western Conference Semifinal win over Seattle, 0-1-1 in its 2012 West Semis loss to the Sounders and 0-1-0 against Seattle in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play.
RSL is 2-0-0 against Seattle this year. The Claret-and-Cobalt got early goals from FW Robbie Findley and MF Luis Gil to top Seattle 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 30 and then got goals on either side of halftime from Findley and Captain Kyle Beckerman to topple the Sounders 2-0 at home on June 22.