Major League Soccer: Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders
Rio Tinto Stadium – Saturday, September 23 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)
Match Odds: RSL 23/20 – Draw 12/5 – Seattle 21/10
Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders: Preview
Real Salt Lake host Seattle Sounders in what will be an important Western Conference clash on Saturday night. Both sides are in good form and looking to seal playoff spots over the final few weeks of the regular season.
RSL come into the game in good spirits after beating Portland 2-1 last weekend. That was their third-straight home win and they know that making Rio Tinto a fortress for the remainder of the campaign is crucial.
The home side will only have three games left to play after this weekend and know they must avoid defeat to keep their playoff hopes alive. They come into the weekend in sixth place in the West. But FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo are on the same points, with two games in hand over RSL.
Anything but an RSL win would spell trouble. But Seattle will arrive looking to dampen hopes and keep their unbeaten run alive. The Sounders haven’t lost in 13 consecutive MLS outings and are well on track to make the playoffs.
The visitors come into the weekend in fourth but they are only a point off top-placed Vancouver, who have played one game less. A win at Rio Tinto would basically guarantee that Seattle will finish above RSL, which would provide them with another boost ahead of the postseason.
The reigning MLS Cup holders have looked difficult to beat but without proving a clinical edge in recent weeks. They’ve drawn four consecutive games, scoring just three goals in the process.
Saturday’s game is expected to be tight as neither side will want to over commit at the risk of being caught on the counter. RSL know the pressure is on them but Seattle will look to frustrate them and stay unbeaten.
Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders: Team News
Real Salt Lake remain without Chad Barrett, Jordan Allen, Omar Holness and Ricardo Velazco through injury. Demar Phillips is listed as ‘questionable’ with a hamstring problem. Mike Petke is unlikely to make any changes to the side that beat Portland last week.
Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer will be hoping Chad Marshall is able to return after missing last week’s game with a hamstring strain. He is listed as ‘questionable’ ahead of Saturday’s match. Brad Evans, Jordan Morris and Calum Mallace are all ruled out.
Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders: Key Points
Real Salt Lake’s last five: L/W/W/L/W
Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/D/D/D/D
Key Stat: Seattle Sounders haven’t won away at Real Salt Lake since a 1-0 playoff win in 2012. RSL have won all five regular season meetings since.
Key Player: Albert Rusnak – The RSL Designated Player was man of the match in last week’s 2-1 win over Portland. He picked up his seventh MLS goal and 12th assist of the season in that victory. He’ll need to put in a similar display to lead RSL to another home win on Saturday.
— GolazoJuice (@GolazoJuice) September 17, 2017
Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders: Prediction
Real Salt Lake 1-1 Seattle Sounders – Real Salt Lake know they really need to win this game if they’re going to stand a chance of making the playoffs. There is still time for things to change in the West but failure to pick up three points would leave them in trouble. Seattle are a team that are really difficult to break down though. They arrive off the back of a 13-game unbeaten streak in league play and will want to keep that going for the remainder of the regular season. This should be cagey and ultimately we see it ending all square.