Seattle Sounders’ woes go from bad to worse with back-to-back losses to RSL

It was a rare regular season home-and-home series for Seattle Sounders FC as they first hosted Real Salt Lake before traveling to Utah a week later for the second and final match this season against RSL. Unlike Seattle’s most recent home-and-home playoff series, the Sounders failed to score a goal and dropped both matches, 1-0 at home and 2-0 on the road.

While the first match saw Seattle take more shots than Real Salt Lake, they struggled to create dangerous scoring opportunities and were slow on the counter-attack making them easy to defend against. Cristian Roldan said after the match that the team isn’t creative enough right now and is lacking mental toughness which has lead to late goals conceded and poor decisions in passing.

Coach Brian Schmetzer said after the match, “We need to be creating more and better chances… We had numerous chances inside the box and we can’t score. So something has to break for us; as soon as it does break I think we have more goals in this team.”

 

Schmetzer also brought up how its hard to fault players for taking chances and missing them and that individual mistakes have been the biggest issue for the club currently.

Roldan conceded that the road match would be more difficult to dictate the game and find possession and Salt Lake would prove him right, out shooting Sounders 18 to 5. Seattle failed to put a shot on target and even with Dempsey back in a attacking midfield role along with Will Bruin (albeit not 100% healthy), they looked woefully inept in attack. Seattle struggled to connect passes in the final third in both matches completing just 60% in the final third at home and 58% on the road. By comparison RSL completed 64% on the road and 76% of their passes in the final third at home.

For the Sounders to right the ship this will need to be a focal point for Schmetzer and his coaching staff in the coming weeks. Having Nico Lodeiro back in the lineup will be a big help although it remains to be seen how healthy his foot is and how he will react mentally to missing the Uruguayan World Cup roster and injury concerns still loom over Bruin, Handwalla Bwana, Osvaldo Alonso, and Victor Rodriguez who made his return in the 74th minute in Utah but is likely not yet 90 minutes fit.

There are a lot of bad statistics to look at for the 2018 Sounders’ campaign – eight shutouts in 11 matches, only seven goals scored, 13 players missing at least one game to injury or suspension – but the one bright note has been their defence. Through 11 games they’ve only conceded 14 goals and while most of the league has played more games than Seattle, that currently leaves them tied for second in least goals conceded. The four teams who have conceded less or as many goals as Seattle are all in playoff positions.

While it certainly feels like the sky is falling in Seattle with how poorly the season has gone, if the goalscoring dam can break there is a chance that the Sounders can begin to climb back up the standings. Sounders fans can only hope that the dam breaks before the hole is too deep to dig out of.

Advertisements

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake

CenturyLink Field – Saturday, May 26th 2018 – 17:00 ET (22:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage – Live on Sky Sports Football

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake: Preview

Seattle Sounders take on Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening in a clash between two Western Conference rivals desperate to turn their form around. The two sides have lost 11 games combined already this season and need to improve. They will meet again next weekend at Rio Tinto Stadium so this is a big two weeks for both sides.

Seattle have only played nine games, fewer than anyone else in the West. But they have only managed to pick up eight points (2-5-2). They had mixed results in last week’s double gameweek, winning 2-1 at Toronto FC before losing 1-0 to a late goal at fierce rivals Portland Timbers.

The Sounders have a whole host of injuries to deal with and so Brian Schmetzer is having a tough job in getting men on the field. They will be glad to be returning home this weekend though, as they are unbeaten at home to Real Salt Lake in over six years.

RSL are not playing to the level many thought they would this season. Yes, it’s still early enough for them to turn it around, but they have lost three of their last four games. To make matters worse, they’ve conceded 11 goals in their past four games so defensively they are a mess at the moment.

Mike Petke has watched his side lose five-straight away games. They took a point on opening weekend at FC Dallas but that remains their only road point from their past seven MLS games away from Rio Tinto.

The two sides met twice last season, with both sides taking a home victory each. The Sounders won 1-0 at CenturyLink last May in similarly bad form to that they are in now. But their win over RSL last May saw them turn things around as they only lost two of their next 18 matches after that win. And it was actually Real Salt Lake who ended the 13-game Sounders unbeaten run in September.

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake: Team News

Seattle Sounders

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Nicolas Lodeiro (toe fracture).

🚑 Out: Jordan Morris (torn ACL), Victor Rodriguez (right knee arthroscopy), Roman Torres (right hamstring strain), Osvaldo Alonso (left quad strain), Will Bruin (left heel pain).

Real Salt Lake

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Joao Plata (quad injury).

🚑 Out: Tony Beltran (right knee surgery), Jordan Allen (knee injury), Alex Horwath (Achilles surgery), Shawn Barry (knee), Demar Phillips (ankle injury).

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake: Key Stats

Seattle Sounders’ MLS form: W/L/D/W/L

Real Salt Lake’s MLS form: W/L/L/W/L

Key stat: The home side has been victorious in this fixture in the past 13 MLS meetings. The last time the away side took a point from this fixture was 2012.

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake: Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Real Salt Lake: Both sides have problems to deal with and poor defensive records to try and fix. That should lead to both sides finding the net but the trend of the home side winning this fixture could well continue. Real Salt Lake’s shocking away form is a major concern so it’s hard to look past the Sounders just edging this one.

In pictures: Whitecaps snap losing streak to pick up much-needed home win over Real Salt Lake

Vancouver Whitecaps picked up a much-needed win on Friday night, beating Real Salt Lake 2-0 at BC Place Stadium to end a three-game losing streak. The Whitecaps had now won at home since opening day so the fans inside BC Place will have been delighted to see their team march to three points.

Real Salt Lake will be frustrated not to have scored for the second consecutive road game. They have now lost three-straight away games and have one point from a possible 12 on the road in 2018.

The game had to wait until the 75th minute for the opening goal and it didn’t come without drama. Cristian Techera scored from the penalty spot to give Vancouver the lead after Nick Besler brought down Nicolas Mezquida. But Techera celebrated by taking his jersey off, earning himself a second yellow card as a result, and was sent off before the game restarted. Techera had been booked just minutes before the penalty incident, so his moment of madness in the celebrations cost him.

Fortunately it didn’t cost the Whitecaps. They added a second goal a couple of minutes after Techera saw red, with Alphonso Davies making a trademark run down the left before putting it on a plate for Anthony Blondell. Davies only played 28 minutes but made a difference to the hosts attacking intensity and got a deserved assist.

Check out exclusive photos from Friday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Simon Fearn.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake

BMO Field – Friday, March 30 2018 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: Preview

The current MLS Cup holders Toronto FC are looking to pick up their first points of the 2018 season as they welcome Real Salt Lake to BMO Field on Friday evening.

It has not been a good start to the new campaign for Toronto, domestically that is, as they have lost their first two. However, before the alarm bells start ringing around the club, their success in reaching the Concacaf Champions League semifinals (this coming Tuesday) against Club America is partly the reason why.

With that said, they cannot afford to allow a winless streak to set in. They sit bottom of the East, already ten points behind the leaders, although that is with two games in hand.

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: TFC fans hoping for first win of 2018 season

The bye week wasn’t exactly kind to Greg Vanney’s thoughts, eight of his squad were in International action and with the games coming thick and fast, he will be keeping a close eye on his players and their intensity levels.

Real Salt Lake visit BMO Field having experienced all three ups and downs at the opening of this season. They have played three games picking up four points (1-1-1). They will be aiming to find some consistency in their quest to be making the playoffs this season.

Their well-disciplined performance to pick up a 1-0 win against RBNY last time out was exactly what their fans wanted to see.

RSL haven’t enjoyed the best form in their away trips to Toronto, having won just one of four meetings between the sides. Away form is a concern for Real Salt Lake too, they have lost 22 games and conceded 72 goals since the start of the 2016 season. That is the third-worst record on the road in MLS during that time span.

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: Team News

Toronto FC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Justin Morrow (calf strain) and Chris Mavinga (abdominal discomfort).

🚑 Out: None.

Real Salt Lake

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Aaron Herrera (groin), Marcelo Silva (hamstring) and Joao Plata (hamstring).

🚑 Out: Tony Beltran (right knee surgery), Jordan Allen (knee) and Taylor Peay (knee).

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: Key Stats

Toronto FC’s MLS form: L/L

Real Salt Lake’s MLS form: D/L/W

Key stat: Toronto will become the first defending champion to start the following season with three straight defeats if they lose this game.

Toronto FC vs Real Salt Lake: Prediction

Toronto FC 2-1 Real Salt Lake: It has the makings of a close game all things considered. TFC will have more than a close eye on their semifinal next week heading into this one. That is by no means through a lack of respect for RSL – just the nature of knockout competitions. Salt Lake will see this as a tie that they can pick up points from. However, the TFC faithful will be expecting their side to get their first win of the season.

The five best Mexicans in MLS to watch in 2018

With the 2018 MLS season underway there is plenty of exciting action each week to keep you entertained. The league is continuing to grow at an alarming rate. More top-rated players are joining each season, highlighting an increasing desire to be involved in Major League Soccer. We’ve picked out the five best Mexicans in MLS to watch this season and what they bring to their side.

Carlos Vela – LAFC

The new boys for 2018, LAFC, picked up an impressive win in their first ever MLS outing away at Seattle. At the heart of that performance was Carlos Vela. Many Premier League fans will know of Vela from his time at Arsenal and brief spell at West Brom.

Although his time in England didn’t quite meet high expectations, the 29-year-old forward is a full international and has come to MLS off the back of the most consistent spell of his career. He is going to be one to watch this season.

Giovani Dos Santos – LA Galaxy

Arguably one of the most naturally gifted players in MLS. Giovani Dos Santos is in his fourth season with LA Galaxy, having scored 23 goals in 64 games. He has played for the likes of FC Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and Villarreal – so has plenty of experience to his name.

At 28 he has a lot to offer LA Galaxy, including the ability to change a game at any moment. Dos Santos plays in a number of attacking roles and will be hoping to spearhead his side to better fortunes this season after a disappointing 2017.

Jonathan Dos Santos – LA Galaxy

Younger brother of Gio, Jonathan Dos Santos is also at LA Galaxy. He has made 29 appearances for the national team so far but fans haven’t yet seen his full potential in MLS as this will be his first full season.

The 27-year-old midfielder plays in a deeper role than his brother, but similarly can fit into a number of different roles.

Victor Ulloa – FC Dallas

The most experienced of the Mexicans in MLS in terms of appearances. Victor Ulloa has played 117 games since joining FC Dallas in 2011. A Homegrown player who has made a name for himself anchoring the Dallas midfield.

Although Ulloa isn’t always a guaranteed name on the team sheet, he is reliable and ready when called upon. At 26 he is yet to be called up for the Mexican side, but that is no reflection on his qualities.

Efrain Juarez – Vancouver Whitecaps

Signed from Monterrey using Targeted Allocation Money in January 2018, Efrain Juarez is a versatile option. He has played as a right back over the last few seasons, but is likely to be used as a central midfielder at Vancouver Whitecaps.

Juarez made his debut in the middle of the park in week one. Fans will hope his experience can help the Whitecaps go one step further this season to top the Western Conference.

Are these the five best Mexicans in MLS – who else should have made the cut?

2018 Key Transfers: Real Salt Lake

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Real Salt Lake and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

For Real Salt Lake, the aim will be starting the 2018 season how they finished the last. Yes, they missed out on the playoffs and yes, defensively they were poor. But Mike Petke got the team playing well over the final months of the season, winning eight of their last 15 games. They finished eighth in the West and missed out on the playoffs on the final day, despite winning. Petke has had the winter to reform the squad ahead of his first full season in charge, so expect them to be a strong outfit in 2018…

Key Signings

Pablo Ruiz: RSL will hope 19-year-old central midfielder Pablo Ruiz can settle quickly and become a key member of the team this season. He joins as a Discovery Signing from Chilean club San Luis, where he made 10 league appearances last season. He represented the Argentina U17’s at the 2015 U17 World Cup but is now poised to represent Chile, if he receives a senior call-up. One to keep an eye on.

Adam Henley: Real Salt Lake’s new regular right-back is set to be Welsh-American defender Henley. He joined the club as a free agent this winter, after leaving Blackburn Rovers at the end of last season. He’s still only 23 but will be hoping to reignite his career in MLS. He was born in Tennessee but moved to England aged two, before rising through the Blackburn academy and into the first team. He has two senior Wales caps to his name and is a player who should make a real impact, if he can recapture his form quickly.

Damir Kreilach: RSL made the move to sign Kreilach from second-tier German side Union Berlin for an undisclosed transfer fee. The 28-year-old midfielder has always wanted to play in the United States and will now be hoping to impress in Major League Soccer. He spent the past five seasons with Union Berlin, scoring 33 goals in 157 appearances for the club.

Brooks Lennon: Lennon isn’t exactly a new signing, given he spent last season with RSL. But his loan move from Liverpool was turned into a permanent transfer this winter, which is a huge boost for the Claret and Cobalt. The 20-year-old attacker played 25 games last season, scoring three goals and picking up four assists. He is one of many youngsters ready to try and lead RSL to success this season and beyond.

Notable Departures

Chris Wingert: After having his option declined at the end of last season, Wingert has decided to call time on a 14-year MLS career. The American full-back played 23 games for RSL last season but has decided now is the right time to retire. He represented Columbus, Colorado and NYCFC but will be mainly remembered for his time with RSL. He played a total of 10 seasons with the Claret and Cobalt, winning the 2009 MLS Cup.

Chris Schuler: Another long-time RSL defender to have his option declined was Schuler. The 30-year-old centre-back has been plagued with injuries, halting him for finding any real consistency. He is a talented defender who has unfortunately had opportunities taken away from him. Schuler had been with RSL since 2010 but played just 21 games over the past three seasons.

Omar Holness: 2016 first-round draft pick Holness departs RSL after two seasons in which he failed to nail down a regular starting berth. The midfielder was seen by many as the long-term replacement for Kyle Beckerman in the RSL midfield but started just six games in two seasons. Last season was supposed to be his year but he was rocked when he suffered a torn ACL in July, that would leave him out for 8-12 months. He is still recovering from surgery but has been signed by USL side Bethlehem Steel FC,  the affiliate of the Philadelphia Union.

2017 MLS Decision Day Predictions: Three-way battle for last playoff spot, plus a crucial Cascadia Cup battle in Portland

2017 MLS Decision Day Predictions – Here we go. The final day of the regular season. It’s the only day of the season in which all 22 MLS sides take to the field simultaneously. The result? A full 90 minutes of action-packed drama, with a whole host of goals expected. All 11 games kickoff at 4pm ET (9pm BST) on Sunday night. You don’t want to miss it.

The 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs are fast approaching and although 11 of the 12 postseason spots are already filled, there are teams across both conferences fighting for that all-important Knockout Round bye. Three teams are fighting for one remaining playoff spot in the East and that’s where you can expect most the focus to be on Sunday. San Jose Earthquakes, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake all still have a chance of clinching a spot on the final day of the regular season and all three have the added bonus of playing at home.

Read on for all 2017 MLS Decision Day Predictions…

Atlanta United 3-1 Toronto FC

What a game this should be. The 2017 season’s best side and Supporters’ Shield winners travel to the league’s most exciting team of the campaign on the final day. Toronto don’t really have anything to play for here. They have secure their Knockout Round bye and can afford to rest players ready for the playoffs. But Atlanta could still finish second in the East. They must win and hope both NYCFC and Chicago fail to pick up victories. At least expect them to do their part of that job…

Embed from Getty ImagesDC United 1-1 New York Red Bulls

The DC United faithful will take to the RFK Stadium stands for the last time this weekend. Other than that there is nothing for either DC or Red Bulls to play for. The home side are guaranteed to finish bottom of the Eastern Conference, but they will be hoping to sign off at RFK in style. Red Bulls can’t finish anywhere other than sixth, with the playoffs looming they will want to avoid defeat, but more importantly, avoid unnecessary injuries. Expect an emotional one for DC, but not much else.

Embed from Getty ImagesMontreal Impact 3-2 New England Revolution

This is the final fixture of what has been an underwhelming season for both Montreal and The Revs. Both have failed to make the playoffs and there isn’t much to cheer about here. New England have failed to win a game on the road in the 2017 regular season. It seems unlikely that it will come away at Montreal, but given there is little but pride to play for here, it might just happen. Can they finally pick up three points away from home on the Decision Day?

Embed from Getty ImagesNew York City FC 2-1 Columbus Crew

New York City FC will look to hold onto second place in the East with a Decision Day win over the Crew. But they’ll have to try and do it away from their usual surroundings. That’s because Sunday’s game will take place at Citi Field, as a result of the New York Yankees game at Yankee Stadium on October 20. Columbus Crew fans have been threatened with a franchise move to Austin. They can lift spirits significantly with a good playoff run and could even get a Knockout Round bye still. A win at NYCFC, coupled with Atlanta and Chicago failing to win would do it. But it’s unlikely to fall into place for them. Second place is NYCFC’s to lose and we don’t see them losing it.

Embed from Getty ImagesPhiladelphia Union 2-2 Orlando City

Another game which will have very little impact on the rest of the East. Both are level on 39 points ahead of the game and having failed to make the playoffs. The result will confirm the finishing position for both sides but considering it’s outside of the top six, there isn’t much to get excited about. Signing off with a win will be the mindset for Philadelphia and Orlando, but with the stats not offering much to split them on, a score draw seems a likely outcome.

Embed from Getty ImagesFC Dallas 3-1 LA Galaxy

What happened to FCD? One of the early season favourites are who are now reliant on results going their way to make the playoffs. If San Jose pick up a win it is all out of their hands. This is easily one of the main fixtures to follow on Decision Day. LA Galaxy face the very real prospect of finishing bottom of the Western Conference. 2017 has been a season to forget for LA and although a win isn’t going to make things any better, they will still be looking to avoid propping up the standings.

Embed from Getty ImagesReal Salt Lake 2-2 Sporting Kansas City

Another Decision Day clash that’s worth keeping an eye on. Real Salt Lake could still finish in a playoff spot, however it seems an unlikely outcome. They are reliant on Dallas and San Jose to both fail to win. The pressure is far from intense for Sporting Kansas City considering they have already secured their place in the post-season action. They can however still end the season with a Knockout Round bye, similarly to RSL, it’s an outcome that is out of their hands as they will need Portland and Seattle to fail to win. A fixture with an outside chance for both sides, with SKC the happier ahead of kick off.

Embed from Getty ImagesPortland Timbers 3-1 Vancouver Whitecaps

A Decision Day rivalry clash. A battle for top spot in the West. And a battle for the 2017 Cascadia Cup. This is going to be one hell of a ride. The Whitecaps beat the Timbers 4-1 on Decision Day a year ago to clinch the Cascadia Cup and also eliminate their rivals – and reigning MLS Cup champs at the time – from playoff contention on the final day. There won’t be anything that dramatic this time around but one of these sides would guarantee a Knockout Round bye with victory. A win would also secure top spot in the West for either. Portland have won five-straight games at home and should get revenge for last year’s final day loss at BC Place.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Minnesota United

The San Jose Earthquakes are 90 minutes away from clinching their first playoff spot since the Supporters’ Shield winning season of 2012. But standing in their way are the ever unpredictable Loons, who will be looking to spoil the party. The Quakes control their own destiny. Win, and they’re in. Anything other than that would open the door to Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas, who will be looking to pounce on any San Jose slip-up. Don’t expect this one to be pretty, but the Quakes should get the job done.

Embed from Getty ImagesSeattle Sounders 3-0 Colorado Rapids

The Sounders are unbeaten in 12 games at CenturyLink Field and will be looking to sign off for the regular season in style. They still can earn a Knockout Round bye with a win, regardless of any other results and that will be the main aim for the reigning champions. Colorado’s season ended a while ago but they’ve been busy ruining other teams’ seasons over the past few weeks. They’d love to sign off with a win but it seems highly unlikely.

Houston Dynamo 1-1 Chicago Fire

Both these sides have done incredibly well to clinch playoff spots after promising seasons. Both were well out of the picture 12 months ago but have improved dramatically over the past 12 months. They’ll both now be thinking of the postseason but Chicago have a really good chance of securing a Knockout Round bye if they can win at BBVA Compass Stadium. They’ll guarantee home-field advantage with a win anyway and that will be their aim. Although the Dynamo are unbeaten in five and will want that streak to keep going into the playoffs. Score draw.

Embed from Getty Images

Western Conference Predictions: MLS Week 32 – Vancouver looking to win conference as playoff race heats up

Western Conference Predictions: MLS Week 32 – The playoff race in the Western Conference is set to go down to the wire. The Vancouver Whitecaps lead Sporting Kansas City by three points heading into what should be an action-packed Week 32. Ten of the eleven Western Conference sides play each other, while Portland host DC United in the only inter-conference matchup of the weekend.

All of this week’s games involving sides from the West will kickoff at the same time on Sunday night at 19:30 ET (00:30 BST). So you can guarantee there will be drama as some teams look to nail down playoff berths, and others are fighting to keep their dreams alive. Read on for all of this weekend’s Western Conference predictions: MLS week 32 should be a good one…

Colorado Rapids 1-1 Real Salt Lake

This late-season Rocky Mountain Cup clash is a big deal. Real Salt Lake are still fighting to get into the playoffs with two games to go. But they must travel to the home of their fiercest rival in MLS. The Rapids’ playoffs hopes have been over for some time but they would love nothing more than to ruin RSL’s season on Sunday night. Real Salt Lake, though, have only lost one of their last six. A loss would likely spell the end to their season, depending on other results, so they must avoid defeat.

Sporting Kansas City 2-2 Houston Dynamo

These two meet for the second time in five days on Sunday. The Dynamo prevented SKC going joint-top of the West with Wednesday night’s 2-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium. They gave their own playoffs hopes a huge boost with that win and will be looking to take at least one more point off of SKC here. Sporting KC haven’t yet secured a playoff berth, despite sitting second with two games to go. A victory would solve that issue, but the absence of goalkeeper Tim Melia could be significant.

LA Galaxy 2-3 Minnesota United

Few people would have thought LA Galaxy would be coming into the penultimate weekend of the season seven points behind Minnesota United. But the problems in LA this season have left them with a year to forget. They will want to avoid finishing dead last in the West and need to try and end the season on a high. But Minnesota are in fairly good form, having only lost one of their last five. They beat Atlanta United in their latest road trip and could add to LA’s misery on Sunday.

Seattle Sounders 2-1 FC Dallas

Both these sides come into the weekend in playoff spots, but know a defeat on Sunday could put them in real trouble. Seattle have two home games remaining. They sit fourth and could still finish the season with a Knockout Round bye. FC Dallas are in a much more precarious position. They are only a point above RSL and San Jose in the final playoff spot and can’t really afford to drop any points. Head coach Oscar Pareja has called this game “the season”, and he’s not wrong. But they aren’t in good form and have lost four-straight games at CenturyLink Field.

Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 San Jose Earthquakes

The Whitecaps are the only Western Conference side to have sealed a playoff berth with 180 minutes of football to go. That’s quite incredible but also testament to their consistency this season. They can guarantee a Knockout Round bye with a home win agains San Jose on Sunday. But the visitors are fighting for their lives too. The Quakes beat Portland last time out to keep their top six hopes intact. But they still need to overtake RSL and Dallas to seal a playoff spot. Vancouver are a real force at home and should prove too much for San Jose.

Portland Timbers 3-0 DC United

Portland missed the chance to seal their playoff spot when they fell 2-1 at San Jose last time out. That result also saw them drop out of the top two. They do now have two home games to finish the season though and will expect to beat DC on Sunday. The Eastern Conference playoff race is over and DC United won’t be playing postseason football. They’ll still want to show some fight but the fact is they will finish bottom of the East after a poor season. Don’t expect them to spoil things in Portland.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders

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.

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.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers

Major League Soccer: Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers

Rio Tinto Stadium – Saturday, September 16 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 19/20 – Draw 13/5 – Portland 5/2

Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers: Preview

Real Salt Lake host Portland Timbers on Saturday night in what is a big game at a crucial stage of the season for both clubs. RSL come into the weekend looking to keep their hopes of a top-six finish alive. While Portland will be hoping to stay joint-top of the West with Vancouver beyond the weekend.

The hosts come into the game off the back of last weekend’s 3-2 loss at Vancouver. The result moved the Whitecaps ahead of Portland at the top of the West and ended RSL’s two-game win streak.

Embed from Getty Images

The good news for Real Salt Lake and Mike Petke is that they are returning home this weekend. They have one two-straight game in front of their own fans, beating San Jose 4-0 and Colorado 4-1. If they can get a third-straight home win on Saturday, there’s a good chance they’ll move into the top six.

However, Portland arrive in good form after beating New York City FC 1-0 at Yankee Stadium last weekend. That result stretcher their unbeaten run to four, with the Timbers picking up 10 points from 12 in that time.

Caleb Porter’s side endured a tough summer but they’ve bounced back over the past couple of months and are now looking poised for a strong playoff run. They will be hoping to secure a top-two finish to earn a first-round bye.

Saturday’s game will be the 19th MLS clash between Portland and Real Salt Lake. The Timbers have only lost one of their last nine games against RSL. However, that defeat took place earlier this season when Real Salt Lake picked up a 4-1 win after Portland received two red cards in the second half.

Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers: Team News

Real Salt Lake have four players ruled out through injury. Chad Barrett, Jordan Allen, Omar Holness and Ricardo Velazco are all sidelined. Demar Phillips and Marcelo Silva are doubts with hamstring problems. Chris Schuler and Sunny are one booking away from suspension and will need to be careful.

Portland Timbers will be without combative midfielder Diego Chara as he has picked up a suspension as a result of yellow card accumulation. Sebastian Blanco is one booking away from suspension.

Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers: Key Points

Real Salt Lake’s last five: W/L/W/W/L

Portland Timbers’ last five: L/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: Real Salt Lake are unbeaten in five consecutive home games in MLS and have scored four goals in their last two at Rio Tinto.

Key Player: Diego Valeri – The Portland Timbers playmaker is enjoying a phenomenal campaign. He has scored in seven consecutive games and is a genuine MVP candidate. He will set an MLS record if he nets for an eighth-straight game on Saturday. But he will need to end an 11-game drought against RSL to do so.

Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers: Prediction

Real Salt Lake 2-2 Portland Timbers – Goals are to be expected on Saturday in what should be an open game. Real Salt Lake know they must avoid defeat to keep their playoff hopes alive at this pivotal stage of the season. For Portland, it’s about maintaining their strong form as the playoffs edge closer. They are still in the race for the lead at the top of the Western Conference too and so both will be out for all three points. However, that could lead to the two sides cancelling each other out. Last season’s clash at Rio Tinto ended 2-2 and we expect the same scoreline here.