Preview: RSL look to defend Rio Tinto against Sounders
Real Salt Lake return to their Rio Tinto Stadium home to take on Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday evening. Losers of just a single game in league play, Real have played to back-to-back scoreless draws, after last Sunday’s goalless result at FC Dallas. Sounders FC are coming off a midweek loss to FC Dallas at home, which put an end to three-game unbeaten run.
REFEREE: Mark Kadlecik. SAR (bench): Rob Fereday; JAR (opposite): Colin Arblaster; 4th: Yader Reyes MLS Career: 3 games; FC/gm: 25.3; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 1; pens: 1
INJURY REPORT: REAL SALT LAKE – OUT: MF Javier Morales (L ankle fracture dislocation); FW Paulo Jr. (R hip flexor strain); PROBABLE: FW Fabian Espíndola (R hamstring strain); FW Álvaro Saborío (R knee swelling) …
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC – OUT: FW O’Brian White (L leg surgery); MF Steve Zakuani (R leg fracture); QUESTIONABLE: MF Brad Evans (adductor strain); PROBABLE: MF Erik Friberg (ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: RSL: Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica); Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SEA: Leo Gonzalez
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: SEA: Osvaldo Alonso, Servando Carrasco
ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Real 1 win, 3 goals … Sounders FC 1 win, 4 goals … Ties 2
AT SALT LAKE (2 meetings): Real 1 win, 3 goals … Sounders FC 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 1
RETURN MATCH: 9/10: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake, 1 p.m. PT
LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/10: RSL 2, SEA 2 (Johnson 53; Saborio 90 – Zakuani 11; Marshall 72)
9/9: SEA 0, RSL 0
• In four all-time league meetings between the clubs, each team has won at home once, with a pair of draws in the other games. Both draws came last season.
• Coaches record: Jason Kreis vs. SEA: P4 W1 L1 D2 … Sigi Schmid v RSL: P10 W4 L3 D3
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake played to a second consecutive scoreless tie, this time with FC Dallas on Sunday evening at Pizza Hut Park. RSL starts the week sitting in a three-way for third place in the Western Conference, with 16 points from 7 matches.
• Real Salt Lake goalkeeper made three saves and FC Dallas netminder Kevin Hartman made two, each goalkeeper now with five shutouts, tied for the MLS league lead.
• Once again a game was delayed at Pizza Hut Park, as referee David Gantar was forced to call a halt to the proceedings in the 83rd minute, the exact same time FCD’s match against the LA Galaxy was postponed May 1. The delay lasted an hour and 52 minutes before restarting play.
• RSL coach Jason Kreis made two changes to the side that played to a scoreless draw with the Houston Dynamo at Rio Tinto Stadium. Tony Beltran came in for Robbie Russell at right back and Andy Williams replaced Collen Warner in the midfield.
• REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson - Andy Williams (Collen Warner 72) - Arturo Alvarez (Jean Alexandre 81), Alvaro Saborio.
• While Real Salt Lake played to a second consecutive scoreless draw at FC Dallas, they have still allowed just two goals on the season through eight games. That has tied the mark for the lowest total conceded through eight matches to start a MLS season, drawing even with last year’s edition of the Los Angeles Galaxy.
• A year ago, when RSL set an all-time MLS record with just 20 goals allowed on the season (in 30 games), they allowed nine through the first eight games.
• “At the moment, we need to start really trying to focus on the positive things,” Kreis said. “So to get our first point here, to get another shutout – against a team that’s shown to be very, very dangerous on the counterattack – is a good thing for us.”
• Real came away from Pizza Hut Park with a result for the first time ever. They had lost every one of their previous nine visits in league and MLS Cup play.
• “Every time we come here, I feel like I’m living a nightmare,” Kreis said. “I’m in the locker room here, and I’m mad, and I spend all night trying to figure out, why can’t we play well in Dallas. At least, now we have the result.”
• While goalkeeper Nick Rimando, not unexpectedly, is tied for the MLS shutout lead with five (along with FC Dallas ‘keeper Kevin Hartman), a larger factor could be the RSL team defense. Real have allowed just 75 shots against, by far the fewest in MLS this season (New York is next, with 95 shots against).
• “The (shot Rimando) dug out in the left corner was phenomenal. It’s critical. When you’re not playing your best you need two things – a resilient effort and guys in back to make plays. We’ve been getting a lot of the latter lately,” Kreis said.
• In a second game after losing playmaker Javier Morales to a fractured leg, Kreis opted for Andy Williams in the central midfield role, in place of Collen Warner.
• "It's difficult," Kreis said. "Some of that's because Javier is a special player. Another part of it is that at a different point in the season, we're maybe a little more confident. I think everybody would tell you we're not at our best right now. We're all just not quite at our best. We need to push things along, move forward and have confidence that we're going to be at our best."
• After maintaining the same back four for consecutive games, Tony Beltran returned at right back in place of Robbie Russell. Beltran had started four of the first five league games this season. "Tony had a strong game," Kreis said. "Tony's a player that we feel has been playing really well lately."
• RSL could be shorthanded for some time to come. Alvaro Saborio and Arturo Alvarez have already left for their respective national teams for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Paulo Junior is expected to be out another month with a hip flexor injury, and Collen Warner suffered a sprained ankle and a shoulder injury against FC Dallas.
• With the dearth of attacking options, in training this week Kreis tried Jean Alexandre up top. "We have obviously some questions to answer this week," Kreis said to the Salt Lake Tribune.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Seattle Sounders FC saw their unbeaten run come to an end at three games, falling 1-0 to FC Dallas on Wednesday at Qwest Field. Sounders FC have 17 points from 13 games on the season, sitting in a four-way for third place in the Western Conference.
• The game's lone goal came in the 17th minute. Andrew Jacobson slotted a pass through the heart of the Sounders FC defense, perfectly into the stride of Brek Shea, and he finished calmly past Kasey Keller inside the right post.
• Kevin Hartman had four saves as Sounders FC uncorked a season-high in shots, but FC Dallas extended their shutout streak to a club-record 489 minutes, the best streak in MLS this season.
• Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made four changes to the team that claimed a 1-0 win against Sporting Kansas City at Qwest Field. Zach Scott and Leo Gonzalez came into the back four for James Riley and Tyson Wahl, Erik Friberg entered the midfield for Servando Carrasco, and Mike Fucito started up top for Roger Levesque.
• SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-1-3-2): Kasey Keller - Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez - Osvaldo Alonso - Erik Friberg, Mauro Rosales (Lamar Neagle 83), Alvaro Fernandez (Roger Levesque 64) - Fredy Montero (Nate Jaqua 75), Mike Fucito.
• Sounders FC were shut out for the first time since they opened the season with back-to-back shutout losses to the LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls.
• “Guys do need to step up,” Sigi Schmid said. “They need to step up and score goals when we get a chance. We can't take extra touches in the box. We've got to get things the first time. Sometimes we can't do a cutback … when we try to take two or three touches, and try to get the perfect shot – perfect shots don't happen. You've got to put the ball in the back of the net."
• Forward Mike Fucito made his first career league start, and had a Sounders FC season-high with three shots on target from five total attempts at goal.
• “Fucito is finally fit and ready to go, and we thought he deserved a chance because we thought his speed would give them some problems and he did," said Schmid.
• Erik Friberg returned to the lineup after missing a couple of games to injury, while Mauro Rosales was able to start a second game in a row after missing out on four starts to injury.
• “We need 11 guys out there on the field who are all going to fight and battle at the same time. And also who are going to make good decisions,” Schmid said. “ … Friberg was healthy and he was starting before he was healthy, so that's why he returns to the lineup.”
• Leo Gonzalez also made just his second start over the last seven league games after starting the first six of the season, while Zach Scott made just his second start of the season, his first since March 25.
• “We thought in this particular game that Zach Scott was going to be a good matchup for Brek Shea, because they like to hit long balls and balls in the air to him. We thought that was going to be a better matchup than [James] Riley, which it was,” Schmid said. “We wanted to stay fresh on the outside as well, because we have a game on Saturday.”
• It was a second consecutive game without a goal or an assist for designated player Fredy Montero, who had two goals and three assists in the previous six games, from April 16 to May 14. "He needs to score. End of story. He needs to score. That's what he's paid to do. He needs to score. He's a good enough player. He knows that," Schmid said.
• After taking four points from three consecutive home games, Sounders FC now hit the road for back-to-back road games.
• "You want to get points at home. You want to get wins. To lose to a team at home is always frustrating. It's not good. Now we've got to go on the road and get a result, get a win in Salt Lake," said Nate Jaqua.