Dress Rehearsal? – Sounders and RSL Seek Morale Boost ahead of Likely Play-off

Posted in Real Salt Lake, Seattle

Published on October 15, 2012 with No Comments

Real Salt Lake and Sounders FC meet on Wednesday night in Seattle. While there are still some points to be won and lost to sort out the play-off draw, there seems to be a very high likelihood that Wednesday’s combatants will be meeting again in the first round of the play-offs.

Salt Lake’s excellent 1-2 away win at LA Galaxy nine days ago seriously tilted the race against the Californians who now have to beat Sounders FC on the final day (or win at San Jose) and hope that Sounders drop points elsewhere.

Sounders’ other two games are at home; to FC Dallas and Wednesday’s tie at home to RSL.

A Sounders win this midweek would promote them to second and ostensibly leave that battle to avoid the dreaded fourth place between the other two.

RSL’s last game is at home to Vancouver. A side with something to play for can be a dangerous opponent.

The only definitive conclusion that could come out of Wednesday would arise form a RSL win. That would take them to 58 points where there is no mathematical way both sides could catch them.

In that instance Sounders would still have the upper hand over LA Galaxy with a two point lead with two games to go.

Gut instinct tells you that both coaches would take the benefits of a draw. Every remaining game would have to go against the Utah side including their own home game with the Whitecaps and LA Galaxy’s trip to San Jose for that to be insufficient.

Sounders would have to beat Dallas, and LA to then beat the Sounders. Any of that goes askew, 56 points will see RSL finish in the top 3.

With a draw Sounders would then lead the Galaxy by three points. They would then have to beat Dallas to leave the Galaxy needing to win both games, at San Jose and at home to the Sounders on the last day.

Western Conference Top 6

P

Pts

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

1

San Jose

32

64

19

7

6

69

40

29

2

Real Salt Lake

32

55

17

4

11

46

35

11

3

Sounders FC

31

52

14

10

7

48

31

17

4

LA Galaxy

32

50

15

5

12

56

45

11

5

Whitecaps

32

42

11

10

12

35

40

-5

6

FC Dallas

32

38

9

11

12

39

42

-3

 

Form does not augur well for Seattle although form can be measured in one of two ways; recent games and recent games between the clubs.

Let’s start with the former.

Sounders rediscovered some sparkling form in the Cascadia derby against Portland.  One would be remiss not to state that the visitors were so awful that it would be a risk to overestimate Sounders performance but party of that awfulness was Sounders inflicted. Sounders’ activity forced some mistakes from the opponent.

Most notably, the form of Christian Tiffert seemed to reach a new peak against Portland and that can be taken as a positive sign of his growing comfort in the league.

Before that Sounders had run three games without a win and their fans can only hope that the Portland game was a turning point rather than just an opponent too bad to lose to being, stuck into an otherwise poor run.

Salt Lake’s recent experience prove that corners can be turned. They have won their last three games. Prior to that, they had one just one game in the last six including a winless August.

With two games left in the regular season, their fans will be hoping they have peaked at the right moment.

The sides have met twice this season. The news is not good for Sounders. They have failed to score in three hours of play although that is just one less goal than their opponents.

Fabian Espindola produced a touch of magic in Seattle to deliver a 0-1 win for the visitors in a match where Sounders could not even must a shot on goal. Nick Rimando called his lack of activity his idea of a perfect game.

That will certainly be something Sounders will want to avoid.

In Salt Lake, the game came at the end of Sounders worst streak of form but despite being outplayed, they showed an admirable grit and fittingly bunkered down for a 0-0 draw on Independence Day.

Views on whether Saborio was offside went ‘along party lines’

RSL fans will point to a 52nd minute Alvaro Saborio “goal” which was ruled out for offside (screen grab right).

Views on the decision seemed largely to follow the affiliations of relevant supporters.

In the end, Sounders got the benefit of assistant referee Bill Dittmar’s decision and turned their season around thereafter.

That draw turned out to be the last match in Seattle’s nine game MLS winless streak, which had ironically began with the previous RSL fixture. Sounders never looked back after that and took 20 points from their next nine games, with six wins and two draws.

The odds are certainly that these two sides will meet again in the post season. They know each other very well so there is little incentive for either coach to conceal his hand although Christian Tiffert is yet to perform against RSL.

Although various players are to return from international duty, only Ned Grabavoy is listed as out through injury.

No-one is suspended although the list of players one yellow away from suspension is very impressive with Osvaldo Alonso, Fredy Montero, Alvaro Saborio and Javier Morales all one piece of referee disgruntlement away from missing their club’s next game.

Also See:

Adrian Hanauer – International Man of Mystery





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