Fresh off their 6-0 demolition of the Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup semifinals Wednesday night, the Seattle Sounders return to MLS play in a Western Conference road clash with Real Salt Lake (Saturday, 2:30 pm ET, NBCSN/Stream on NBCSports.com).
The Sounders will look to continue their resurgent play following a brief two-game MLS losing streak and ride the wave of the dominant USOC performance against Chicago into Saturday’s match. Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said his teams have historically been able to transfer momentum from USOC games into their league season, something he hopes will hold true against Salt Lake.
“It’s always a good thing because you get confidence from it,” Schmid said of his team’s offensive explosion. “The Open Cup in the past for us has been sometimes a tournament that has spurred us on to good runs in league play. We also got two [shutouts] out of it so we’re happy about that as well.”
Schmid said his lineup should see the return of a few regulars against RSL. Forward Clint Dempsey, defender Chad Marshall and midfielder Gonzalo Pineda were all held out of Wednesday's game to rest, but are expected to play Saturday. However, Seattle will not have forward Obafemi Martins, who is suspended after drawing two yellow cards in last weekend’s 2-0 home victory over the Houston Dynamo.
The Sounders will also have to deal with fatigue concerns as they play their third match in seven days, but an equally significant concern could be RSL's home field advantage at Rio Tinto Stadium.
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“At home, they really play with a lot of confidence,” Schmid said. “They come out and they try to press the issue at the beginning of the game on their home field. So you have to be prepared for that and you have to weather that storm. Once you get through those first 15 or 20 minutes, you can settle into your game.”
Seattle (13-6-2) currently reside atop the Western Conference and the Supporters’ Shield standings with 41 points, but RSL (10-4-9) are right behind with 39 and could snatch away the lead in both races from the Sounders with a victory.