MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
08/15/2014 6:18 PM
08/15/2014 6:23 PM
Seattle (13-6-2) at Real Salt Lake (10-4-6), 2:30 p.m.
Sandy, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - The top two teams in the Western Conference will square off at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday as Real Salt Lake will host Seattle Sounders FC.
Seattle comes into the weekend in first place with 41 points, two points ahead of the Claret and Cobalt.
But while the Sounders capped a rather pedestrian performance against the Houston Dynamo with a 2-0 victory to snap a two-game slide, Real Salt Lake appears to be on something of a roll.
Jeff Cassar's men are unbeaten in their last five league outings, going 3-0-2 over that stretch to place additional pressure on Seattle.
Real Salt Lake is coming off of a convincing 3-0 victory over D.C. United, a match that saw Joao Plato open the scoring before a brace from Chris Schuler sealed the win before halftime.
"I felt like things were going good right from the get-go," Cassar said. "Right from the first whistle, we kept applied pressure and kept it on. We knew it wasn't going to be an easy game, but we didn't want to let (D.C. United) gain any confidence. We wanted to keep our foot on the gas."
The victory had put RSL in the top spot in the West until Seattle jumped back in front with a mundane win over Houston the following day.
"It shows that we're playing consistent," said Schuler. "It's a long MLS season; it's not easy to stay on the gas the whole time. Being on top of the table is always a good thing. At any point in time it's good to be in first place. Seattle has been playing really well and that is a testament to the quality that they have so it's going to be a good game."
Seattle knows that it must show up against Salt Lake given that matches between the two sides traditionally have been heated affairs.
"It's going to be a battle, always against Salt Lake," said Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso. "We are confident to go there, play our game and take the three points. We go there with the mentality to win the game."
The Sounders are 2-4-2 at Rio Tinto Stadium. The record includes a 1-0 win in the 2012 Western Conference semifinals, which gave the club its first-ever playoff series win, as well as a win in the 2011 regular season, which ended RSL's MLS-record of 29 straight home matches without a defeat.
"It's a difficult place to play. Their support at home is good. At home, they really play with a lot of confidence," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. "They come out and they try to press the issue at the beginning of the game on their home field. So you have to be prepared for that and you have to weather that storm. Once you get through those first 15 or 20 minutes, you can settle into your game."
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