With a two-week break in the wings, don’t expect Real Salt Lake to hold anything back as it heads to Seattle for a key top of the table clash.
League-leading Real Salt Lake takes on red-hot Seattle at 8 p.m. tonight at CenturyLink Field in downtown Seattle, Wash., with first place in the Western Conference on the line. The match will be televised live on KTVX.
Salt Lake (7-3-2, 22 points) enters tonight’s contest riding a four-match unbeaten streak (2-0-2), with a pair of home wins and a pair of road draws. The Sounders (7-1-1, 21 points) counter with a five-match winning streak, and six-match unbeaten run, as they open up the three-match season series with RSL.
Tonight’s contest is the first meeting between the two since Real eliminated Seattle in the first round of the Western Conference semifinals last season, and has been hotly contested rivalry in Major League Soccer since Seattle joined the league in 2009.
Each team won on the road during the regular season last year, with Seattle spoiling RSL’s MLS-record 29-match unbeaten streak on May 28, 2011, and Real returning the favor with a bizarre 2-1 result that saw each team finish with 10-men.
The two met again in the playoffs, with Real stomping Seattle 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium during the first leg of the playoff series, before falling 2-0 at CenturyLink, but still advance by a 3-2 aggregate goal differential.
Perhaps the biggest question mark surrounding Real tonight is the status of midfielder Javier Morales, who removed himself from Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Chicago in the 26th minute after suffering a right quadriceps straight.
Several other mainstays who missed the match in the Windy City could return, as midfielder Will Johnson has served his one-match ban from being sent off against New England last weekend. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando missed Wednesday’s match resting a shoulder injury, but is likely to return tonight, as are Nat Borchers and Fabian Espindola who were rested by Kreis on Wednesday night.
Following tonight’s match, RSL will have two weeks before its next match, and plays just one league match between today and June 16.