Preview: Seattle Sounders host Real Salt Lake in the Emerald City

Seattle Sounders FC
PHOTO: Brad Smith makes a pass in the draw between the Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend. Photo courtesy of Mike Fiechtner/Seattle Sounders FC.

Seattle, Washington (April 5, 2019) — The winning streak is over for the Seattle Sounders. Last week, the Sounders took a trip up north to face the Vancouver Whitecaps. In the first Cascadia Cup match of 2019, the Sounders and Vancouver drew with a scoreless final.

Preview: Seattle Sounders host Real Salt Lake in the Emerald City

With late dramatics in the match — including a game-winning tackle and stop by defender Kim Kee-hee and acrobatic saves from Stefan Frei — the Sounders were fortunate to earn a point. However, the winning streak wasn’t the only streak that fell flat in Vancouver. Sounders striker Raúl Ruidíaz had his goal-scoring streak halted at eight matches.

Now, the Sounders are returning home to CenturyLink Field to welcome a familiar face back one more time. Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake goalkeeper, announced that this would be his last professional season.

Should the two not meeting the MLS Cup Playoffs, this will be the last time Rimando competes in Seattle. However, despite the sentimental value it might bring Rimando, the Sounders won’t be going easy on him. With a prolific attack that includes Ruidíaz, Víctor Rodríguez and Nico Lodeiro, there’s plenty of full-force attacks going toward Rimando.

Seattle Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake
2019 MLS Regular Season
CenturyLink Field
April 6, 2019 — 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET
Stream: ESPN+

What to Watch For

Brad Smith isn’t messing around

The Seattle Sounders have a serious decision to make in the upcoming weeks. This summer, the team’s loan agreement for defender Brad Smith will be up. However, the Sounders have the option to negotiate with his home base club, AFC Bournemouth from England.

Smith has been a great addition to the Sounders defense. His immediate sparks of fast-paced running and crosses into the box put him ahead of Nouhou on the depth chart. The Sounders traded Waylon Francis to the Columbus Crew SC this summer, because they didn’t want to waste his talents on the bench with Smith clearly being the starter.

However, there was open competition in the off-season between Smith and Nouhou. It was Smith that took the reins and ran away with the starting spot. He’s been good with his defensive work, but his runs up the left sideline are what helps the Sounders get into goal-scoring position.

His crosses are a thing of beauty and he’ll be relied on heavily back home.

The Injury Report

Seattle Sounders FC

After two weeks of having a clean injury report, the Sounders have two names on the list. One name leaps out, taking an initial glance.

Ruidíaz is listed with right heel contusion. He showed signs of limping around during the match against Vancouver. However, Sounders reporter Ari Liljenwall reported this Tuesday that Ruidíaz was jogging “solo” at Sounders training. According to Liljenwall, Sounders manager Brian Schmetzer claims that he’s fine and he’ll be ready to go on Saturday.

“I believe in establishing trust and a good relationship with your senior players,” Schmetzer said. “So, Raúl and I will have a conversation. We’ll see how he feels and make a decision.” 

Also on the injury list is midfielder Harry Shipp, who is overcoming a concussion. Both players are listed as questionable.

Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake has a much longer list than Seattle.

Out for the season is Jordan Allen, with a knee injury. Meanwhile, Erik Holt will miss Saturday’s tilt with an ankle injury. Two players are listed as questionable, with Tony Beltran dealing with a knee injury and Adam Henley rehabbing an ankle injury.

However, Real Salt Lake has two players listed as probable. Justen Glad will likely return from a toe injury while forward Joao Plata feels ready enough to return from an ankle injury. Schmetzer complimented Real Salt Lake manager Mike Petke during his mid-week press gathering.

“Mike Petke does a great job of getting his teams ready to play,” Schmetzer said. “His teams never quit. They’ll be ready tactically. It’ll be a tough match… Our sport is physical. There is contact.” 

Last Meeting: Two losses in two straight matches

Meeting early in the season, the Sounders faced Real Salt Lake back-to-back in the end of May and early June. Seattle was in the midst of figuring out their depth and attempting to crawl out of last place. This was before Ruidíaz even came to Seattle.

Both competitions ended with losses.

On May 26, 2018, the Sounders fell to Real Salt Lake, 0-1, at home. Sebastian Saucedo scored the lone, game-winning, goal in the 61st minute. Meanwhile, on June 2, the Sounders gave up two goals to Real Salt Lake in Utah. Corey Baird and Luis Silva scored in the second contest.

Prediction: Seattle 2, Real Salt Lake 1

It’ll be tough to keep a clean sheet over Real Salt Lake.

However, this season, the Utah-based club hasn’t found early success. Real Salt Lake is coming off three consecutive losses and coming up against a solid team like Seattle isn’t going to help Real Salt Lake’s chances of breaking the curse. This might not be a clean sheet for Stefan Frei and company, but Seattle should win this one.

However, should Ruidíaz not be able to compete for Seattle, that would be the toughest obstacle for Seattle to overcome. Schmetzer thinks he’s fine, but we’ll see on Saturday.

PHOTO: Brad Smith makes a pass in the draw between the Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend. Photo courtesy of Mike Fiechtner/Seattle Sounders FC.

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