Preview: Seattle Sounders vs. Real Salt Lake
Sports Mole previews Sunday’s Major League Soccer clash between Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
A pair of clubs fresh off victories in their opening fixtures of the new MLS campaign will square off at Lumen Field this weekend as Real Salt Lake can stretch its unbeaten run versus the Seattle Sounders to five games when the two sides clash on Saturday.
In their first match of the season last weekend Seattle thrashed the Colorado Rapids 4-0, while RSL came from behind to defeat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1.
After a disappointing domestic campaign in 2022, the Rave Green began the current regular season about as well as Brian Schmetzer could have hoped, controlling most of their match against the Burgundy Boys.
Even though they were missing their top goalscorer from the past four regular season campaigns, the Sounders created plenty of opportunities and were deadly in front of goal.
Their ball movement and runs into the box created all sorts of confusion for the Rapids backline, while defensively, they were rarely threatened, conceding a mere two efforts on target.
Adding some new experienced attacking threats has produced some early success for Seattle, who have been sharper in the attacking third at home, scoring at least once in every match played at Lumen Field since falling 3-0 to the Portland Timbers last July.
Seattle enter this contest unbeaten in its last five regular season encounters at Lumen Field though it has been a while since they have gotten the better of Salt Lake at home, with their last triumph against them coming in June 2021 (2-1).
With a more relaxed schedule this season, the Sounders appear to be well rested, mainly healthy and poised to contend for the Supporters’ Shield once again, finishing first or second in the Western Conference in five of the previous six regular-season campaigns.
It was a difficult opening 45 minutes for Real Salt Lake in Vancouver last weekend, but a second-half surge was all they would need to stun the Whitecaps.
As a result, Claret and Cobalt are unbeaten in its last 14 regular season openers, the longest streak in league history, while 13 of those 14 results came away from home.
In 2022 Pablo Mastroeni saw his side win only three matches in which they trailed at the interval, so to see them already do it once this year is encouraging.
That victory in Vancouver ended a four-game winless run for RSL away from home dating back to 2022, while it was their first road victory against a Western Conference opponent, as many as they had last year.
Real Salt Lake have not won consecutive road fixtures in the regular season since 2021, which was also the last time they began a campaign 2-0.
Heading into this encounter, RSL have only conceded one goal to the Sounders in their last two visits to Seattle, notably keeping them off the scoresheet during their playoff encounter in 2021, which Salt Lake wound up winning 6-5 on penalties.
Seattle Sounders Major League Soccer form:
Real Salt Lake Major League Soccer form:
The Sounders could be without Raul Ruidiaz once again as he is dealing with a right hamstring strain, Obed Vargas is out due to a right quad injury, while Joao Paulo saw his first MLS action since April 23 of last year, going 80 minutes on Sunday before being replaced by Josh Atencio.
Nicolas Lodeiro has four goals in his career against Claret and Cobalt, assisting on their only strike the last time they hosted them a year ago, as he set up former RSL midfielder Albert Rusnak in a 2-1 defeat.
Axel Kei is expected to sit out this weekend for Real Salt Lake due to a sprained ankle, Zack Farnsworth has a thigh issue, Rubio Rubin missed their opener through suspension, while Damir Kreilach played for the first time in nearly 11 months after previously suffering a back injury, scoring the winner versus Vancouver, the 44th of his RSL career, putting him two back of Joao Plata for third all-time in club history.
Seattle Sounders possible starting lineup:
Frei; A. Roldan, Ragen, Gomez, Tolo; Rusnak, Paulo; C. Roldan, Lodeiro, Morris; Heber
Real Salt Lake possible starting lineup:
MacMath; Brody, Glad, Silva, Oviedo; Loeffelsend, Caldwell; Chang, Kreilach, Savarino; Julio
We say: Seattle Sounders 2-0 Real Salt Lake
The season is still young, but the Sounders look re-energised and primed to regain their status as an MLS powerhouse, showing poise along the backline in their opener with plenty of outstanding individual performances.
While they reacted well when trailing last Saturday, Claret and Cobalt did not produce many scoring opportunities aside from a nice two-minute flurry against the Caps, and they will be facing a much more experienced and organised backline this weekend.
How to watch
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Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data
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