MLS Match Preview: Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders

Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders, March 30, 2013

Photo Credit: 
USA Today sports

REAL SALT LAKE vs SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
March 30, 2013 (WEEK 5, MLS Game #41)
7 p.m. MT (KUCW; KONG/ROOT-NW/KOMO2) 

Renewing a rivalry that has sprung up over the last couple of years in the MLS Cup Playoffs, Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders FC come together Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium with both clubs needing a win. The teams have met each of the last two seasons in the Western Conference quarterfinals in a pair of hard-fought series. Real come into the first meeting this year looking for snap a three-game winless run, while Sounders FC are still looking for their first victory of the new campaign.

DOWNLOAD FULL GAME GUIDE (PDF)

REFEREE: Mark Geiger. SAR (bench): Corey Parker; JAR (opposite): Brian Dunn; 4th: Allen Chapman MLS Career: 106 games; FC/gm: 26.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 26; pens: 36 

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: RSL: Yordany Alvarez (through March 30)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none 

HEAD-TO-HEAD ALL-TIME (9 meetings): Real 3 wins, 7 goals … Sounders FC 2 wins, 7 goals … Ties 4
AT SALT LAKE (4 meetings): Real 1 win, 4 goals … Sounders FC 1 win, 4 goals … Ties 2
RETURN MATCHES: 6/22: Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 7:30 p.m. MT; 9/13: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m. PT (NBCSN)  
LAST YEAR (MLS)

5/12: SEA 0, RSL 1 (Espindola 51)
7/4: RSL 0, SEA 0
10/17: SEA 0, RSL 0

  • The teams met in the Western Conference Quarterfinals a season ago, Sounders FC advancing 1-0 on aggregate with the only scored by Mario Martínez in the second leg at CenturyLink Field. 
  • The last seven meetings between the teams in league and playoff competition have all ended in a shutout – both legs of playoff series in 2011 and 2012, and all three league meetings a season ago.
  • The last two regular season matches were both scoreless draws; the teams had played to three consecutive goalless results in league and cup play before last year’s West quarterfinal second leg.
  • Coaches record: Sigi Schmid vs. RSL: P15 W5 L5 D5 … Jason Kreis vs. SEA: P9 W3 L2 D4 

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake saw their winless run stretched to three games while remaining without a victory ever in Texas, falling 2-0 to FC Dallas on Saturday evening in Frisco. RSL sits in sixth place in the Western Conference with 4 points from 4 games.

LAST MATCH 

  • FCD finally opened the scoring in the 70th minute. Fabian Castillo found some space down the left side after taking an angled pass from Jackson and drilled a shot into the upper corner on the near side to give the home side the lead.
  • RSL nearly pulled level when Matt Hedges cleared a near-certain goal from substitute Devon Sandoval off the line, then from the ensuing corner, RSL's Olmes Garcia sent a diving header off the post.
  • But FC Dallas put the match away with some good fortune in the 81st minute. After a tricky back pass, Josh Saunders took a bad first touch under pressure from Jackson, who slid in to knock the ball off the RSL keeper's feet and into the net.
  • RSL head coach Jason Kreis made six changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium. Josh Saunders came in between the posts, Nat Borchers stepped into the back four, Yordany Alvarez, Cole Grossman and Ned Grabavoy came into the midfield and Joao Plata started up top, with Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Kyle Beckerman and Alvaro Saborio on international duty, and Sebastian Velasquez and Khari Stephenson both out.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-1-3-2): Josh Saunders - Lovel Palmer, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler - Yordany Alvarez (sent off 83) - Cole Grossman (Olmes Garcia 77), Luis Gil (John Stertzer 66), Ned Grabavoy - Robbie Findley, Joao Plata (Devon Sandoval 73).

TEAM NEWS

  • Real Salt Lake saw their all-time winless streak in Texas continue in a 2-0 loss at FC Dallas on Saturday, as they were missing 11 players to international duty and injury. RSL is now 0-19-3 all-time on the road against Dallas and Houston.
  • “We made a lot of shifts and I thought the team took it quite well. I’m really happy about the effort. I’m disappointed in the result but I am pretty pleased with the guys’ fight,” said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. “… We didn’t let anything up in the first half and in the second half we gave up the goal.”
  • Making his RSL debut after back-to-back MLS Cup-winning campaigns with the LA Galaxy, Josh Saunders was credited with five saves in goal.
  • “I feel like I didn’t put my best effort out there towards the end of the game. You have to stand up to what quality you can give, and I got beat high on the first goal, and then the second one was just such a lapse in pace to get the ball out of the box, and I take responsibility for that,” said Saunders.
  • Center back Nat Borchers made his 2013 debut, starting in the middle of the back four, after undergoing surgery in the offseason on a right quadriceps tendon.
  • “I’m definitely finding my fitness,” Borchers said. “Coming down to Dallas is trial by fire, playing against a good counterattacking team. I thought I was a little bit sloppy with the ball. But I feel very good right now, which is a positive.”
  • In addition, midfielder Cole Grossman and forward Olmes Garcia made their RSL debuts on Saturday night. Grossman started before coming out in the 77th minute for Garcia, who was making his MLS debut.
  • “I thought we did really well tonight, given the circumstances,” Borchers said. “A lot of us hadn’t played together as the first XI up to this point. Everybody busted their butts and covered for each other.” 
  • RSL doubled their goals conceded on the season with the two scored by FCD. They were shut out for a second time in four games, both coming away from Rio Tinto Stadium. 
  • “It’s really important to make [Dallas] defend. If you allow them to go at you all night, you are going to be struggling. We all noticed that they come at you extremely quickly,” said Kreis. “I didn’t think we were good enough with the ball in their half of the field. We stretched ourselves out at times, just playing too high with our forwards and giving too much space in the midfield.” 

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Seattle Sounders FC saw their season-opening winless streak extended to three matches, dropping a 1-0 decision Saturday evening to the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. Sounders FC are in a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference with 1 point from 3 matches. 

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came seconds into first-half stoppage time. A long clearance skidded off the head of Seattle defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Chris Wondolowski brought the ball down with the outside of his right foot, ripping a shot from 22 yards that barely beat Sounders FC goalkeeper Michael Gspurning with a ricochet off the far post.
  • Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made three changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers at CenturyLink Field. Leo Gonzalez came into the back four for Marc Burch, Mauro Rosales started in midfield for Mario Martinez, and David Estrada came in up top for Eddie Johnson.
  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-2): Michael Gspurning - DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez - Mauro Rosales (Alex Caskey 81), Andy Rose, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani (Eriq Zavaleta 84) - David Estrada, Sammy Ochoa (Lamar Neagle 81).

TEAM NEWS

  • With just one point through three matches following their 1-0 loss at San Jose, Sounders FC have matched the poorest start since the club’s MLS inception in 2009.
  • “We know the situation and how to lead this team and we know it’s important to improve our quality both individually and as a team. It doesn’t of course look good when you look on the standings and you’re the last team in the table,” said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. “If we stay calm and work together, we know we can gain the points and victories in the tough schedule coming up.”
  • With Eddie Johnson away on national team duty, David Estrada made his first appearance in all competitions for Sounders FC, partnering Sammy Ochoa in attack.
  • “I thought we put ourselves in dangerous situations, but we were like a butter knife trying to cut bread,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We weren’t quite sharp enough when we needed to be at the key moments. That’s something we’ll work on this week.”
  • It was the third 1-0 loss across five matches in all competitions for Sounders FC this season – two in MLS (also 0-1 to Montréal) and one in the CONCACAF Champions League vs. Tigres UANL.
  • “It’s not the start we want, but we know there are positives to take from what we’ve done so far,” said Gspurning. “We continue to play well. We have to find a way to fix the problem of conceding the late goals. The only way to solve this problem is to battle through and train hard for the next week.”
  • Besides the returning international campaigners, Sounders FC could have a few more selection options. Shalrie Joseph, obtained in the offseason from Chivas USA, has overcome a calf injury to return to full participation in training. Brad Evans is also training after missing the past two matches.
  • “I kept trying to rush it and get back out there,” Joseph said. “That’s just me. I’m trying prove myself. You can’t explain in words how excited I am to get back out there and represent these colors. They took a chance on me and I just want to repay that favor.”
  • Said Schmid: “It’s important that we are healthy and that we’re playing well as we move forward with the season. To try and rush someone back because we’re panicking because we haven’t gotten a win yet and have them suffer an injury that puts them out for a long period of time makes no sense.”