Seattle Sounders vs. Real Salt Lake
2017 MLS Regular Season
CenturyLink Field - Seattle, Washington
Saturday, May 20 - 5 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
Two teams that were involved in midweek action are right back at in on Saturday, as the Seattle Sounders return home to host Real Salt Lake. Truth be told, both teams are in rough shape at the moment, with RSL in 9th place in the Western Conference and the Sounders right behind them in 10th.
On Wednesday, however, it was RSL that got the boost, with a 2-1 home win over NYCFC, a much-needed result considering Mike Petke's side had lost their last four. The Sounders, meanwhile, were handed a 3-0 loss on the road against Sporting Kansas City – which for the moment appears to place an even bigger cloud on their MLS Cup title defense.
It's been nearly a month since the Sounders last won a game, Apr. 23 against the LA Galaxy. It may only be the third month of the season, and everybody knows the Sounders went through a difficult start to the 2016 season before getting on track and winning MLS Cup, but it appears anxiety is growing in the Evergreen State.
Even returning home after losing in Kansas City and in Chicago last weekend may not provide a respite, as they lost to Toronto FC in their last home match and staged a furious rally from 3-0 down to draw New England at home the weekend before that.
There are ups and downs in a long regular season campaign, sure, but immediately following Wednesday's loss, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer seemed to indicate there was a psychological issue the team needed to overcome.
"The first half was as planned, except for the fact that we didn't score," he told reporters. "So if you don't put teams away when you're doing well, if you don't have a belief that you can score, if you don't have a belief that you can win, if you don't have a belief that you can defend for 90 minutes, then you're going to run into problems against a team like Sporting KC or any team in this league.
"We've got to figure out a way how to believe that we can score and that will start a chain reaction, hopefully, and get some results."
- Suspensions: None
- International Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – D Roman Torres (left hamstring strain), D/M Henry Wingo (right ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE – M Aaron Kovar (groin surgery), M Ozzie Alonso (quad tightness), D Nouhou Tolo (left shoulder dislocation)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Stefan Frei – Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Tony Alfaro, Joevin Jones – Cristian Roldan, Osvaldo Alonso – Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris – Will Bruin
Notes: In the last 11 meetings between Seattle and Real Salt Lake, the home team has won every game. Seattle lead the series over that time span 6W-5L. … Seattle’s loss to Toronto FC last weekend snapped an 11-game home unbeaten streak, the second-longest in franchise history. The longest was 14 games from March 16 to September 29, 2013.
Real Salt Lake
If the Sounders appear to be entering a legitimate crisis, RSL picked up a vital result against NYCFC. Notably, the Utah side welcomed back lynchpins Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman from injuries, and the duo provided a clear boost for the team. Rimando broke the MLS record for saves all-time in the game, and Albert Rusnak and Aaron Maund were expected and surprise scorers on the night, respectively.
Perhaps most critically, RSL came back to win despite going down early against New York City. Given the myriad injury troubles, especially on the backline, for them this season, conceding early but holding firm for a result has to provide a boost after losing four in a row.
And in contrast to the Sounders' lack of belief, RSL never gave up in their midweek clash.
“After going down early they had a different mentality tonight. You could see it was something a little different tonight in their reactions. No one hung their head and they clawed back and got the equalizer,” said RSL head coach Mike Petke after Wednesday's game. “They went and got the go-ahead and they closed the game out really well.”
- Suspensions: None
- International Duty: D Danny Acosta (US U-20s), D Justen Glad (US U-20s), F Brooks Lennon (US U-20s), F Sebastian Saucedo (US U-20s)
- Injury Report: OUT – F Chad Barrett (knee surgery), D David Horst (knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE – M Jordan Allen (right quad strain), D Demar Phillips (hamstring injury), D Tony Beltran (back injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Nick Rimando – Reagan Dunk, Aaron Maund, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert – Kyle Beckerman, Luke Mulholland, Albert Rusnak – Jefferson Savarino, Yura Movsisyan, Joao Plata
Notes: RSL have lost nine of their last 11 regular season away games, (1W-1D) and have been outscored 22-7 along that run.
- Overall: Seattle 8 wins (26 goals) … Real Salt Lake 8 wins (22 goals) … Ties 4
- At Seattle: Seattle 7 wins (19 goals) … Real Salt Lake 2 wins (8 goals) … Ties 2
Referee: Kevin Stott
Assistant Referees: Cameron Blanchard, Felisha Mariscal
4th Official: Alex Chilowicz