SANDY -- For slightly differing reasons, Real Salt Lake and its opponent tonight, Seattle, were a little slow coming out the gate of the Major League Soccer season.
Not any more.
Over the last seven weeks, the two Western Conference rivals have been scorching hot, with each carrying a 5-1-1 over their past seven MLS contests.
The Claret-and-Cobalt enter tonight's 7:30 p.m. clash with the Sounders at Rio Tinto Stadium on a blistering goal-scoring tear.
Salt Lake has scored 25 goals in its last nine matches, which includes two U.S. Open Cup wins in extra time, with 10 different players having found the back of the net during that span. Real has scored at least three goals in four consecutive matches, including five in its dramatic comeback win in extra time against the Charleston Battery in Open Cup action on June 12.
"I think we're obviously creating a ton of chances," Real midfielder Ned Grabavoy said. "We probably missed a good amount of chances still. But in saying that, it just seems to me like nobody is trying to overdo anything. The ball gets into the midfield, it gets knocked around, one, two touch, move it, move it, move it until we finally move past our midfield and then from there it has been a commitment from guys to get into the box.
"We're getting numbers in and around the box and the rest of the team is stepping up to try and clean up things and try to stay in their final third and play from there, so I think it's that commitment level a little bit."
Seattle put together back-to-back four goal matches against San Jose and FC Dallas, and has scored 16 times in its last seven outings.
Defensively, the Sounders have three shutouts during their hot streak, while Real has two.
Seattle's up-tempo offense might be coming at a tough time for Salt Lake, which is being forced to deal with a season-ending knee injury to defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe and a potentially lengthy injury recovery by defender Chris Schuler. Those injuries will likely either force RSL to hoist a hefty load of responsibility on young center back Carlos Salcedo or potentially convert outside defender Chris Wingert into the central defense.
RSL general manager Garth Lagerway also hinted during ESPN700's weekly Real Salt Lake radio show that the team might have to explore bolstering its central defensive options via trade.
* GIL SCORES FOR USA in U20 ACTION: At Istanbul, Spain showed why it is favored to win the Under-20 World Cup by beating the United States 4-1 on Friday in its opener after doubles from star strikers Jese and Gerard Deulofeu.
France also turned in a strong performance in the other Group A match, scoring two second-half goals within four minutes to win 3-1 against Ghana.
Spain opened the scoring when Deulofeu fires a shot across the goal mouth and Jese volleyed the ball into the net in the fifth minute.
Deulofeu, who plays for Barcelona, received the ball outside the area, sidestepped a defender and sent a blistering shot just beyond goalkeeper Cody Cropper to make it 2-0 in the 42nd.
The European champions caught the defense sleeping two minutes later.
Javier Manquillo made a great run, passed to Jese, who was lurking in the area, and the Real Madrid striker scored his second goal just before halftime.
"We are happy for our team," Spain coach Julen Lopetegiu said. "In the first half, we had problems with the American pressure. But we tried to run behind the defenders and we had the chance to score goals."
Spain seemed to content to sit back for much of the second half, but again its counterattack paid dividends. Deulofeu received a long ball, got around Cropper and scored his second.
The Americans pulled one back when Luis Gil, who plays for Real Salt Lake, scored from just outside the area in the 77th.
U.S. coach Tab Ramos defended his decision to press Spain, insisting he didn't want to "defend on our side of the field and lose."