SALT LAKE CITY — Defending MLS Cup champion Seattle, also the current Western Conference leader, is year in and year out as good as any team in MLS about getting results.
Whether it’s a beautiful win, an ugly win or an ugly draw, it consistently finds a way to pick up points whenever it steps on the field.
It’s a lesson Real Salt Lake might be wise to copy Wednesday when it visits the Sounders for a midweek match (7:30 p.m. MDT, KMYU).
Back on Sept. 2 when Seattle visited Rio Tinto Stadium on short rest having played three nights earlier, coach Brian Schmetzer opted for a conservative approach by utilizing a five-man backline and countering when opportunities presented themselves.
It’s a boring approach, something Seattle would never prefer, but given the circumstances it’s what Schmetzer believed was the best approach for his team.
It was inevitably outshot 12-5 and only possessed the ball 42 percent of the time, but it found a way to grind out the 2-2 draw. Had it not been for Pablo Ruiz’s late long-distance strike, the Sounders would’ve walked away with the full three points.
The roles will be reserved on Wednesday when RSL visits Seattle on short rest, and copying Seattle’s previous approach may be RSL’s best hope for any kind of result.
“They’re going to play a 4-2-3-1, so it’s going to be a different match-up. They’re obviously going to be the aggressors because they’re a very good time, in my opinion one of the best teams in the league right now.” — RSL coach Freddy Juarez
“They’re going to play a 4-2-3-1, so it’s going to be a different match-up. They’re obviously going to be the aggressors because they’re a very good time, in my opinion one of the best teams in the league right now,” said RSL coach Freddy Juarez.
Of course Juarez would prefer to trot out a full strength squad and go toe-to-toe with the champs, but it’s a gamble more likely to backfire with just three regular season wins in Seattle in 14 previous matches.
RSL is already without Albert Rusnak who is away on international duty, while Nedum Onuoha will likely miss a second straight match with an undisclosed injury.
Center backs Justen Glad and Onuoha both missed last Sunday’s 3-1 home loss against Los Angeles FC, but Glad should be back in the starting lineup on Wednesday.
“It’s always tough when you’re not on the field. Watching from the sidelines you’re just wishing you were out there. It definitely lights a fire under us. Everyone on this team hates losing so coming off a result like that we want to shift the momentum,” said Glad.
While RSL will be without Rusnak, Seattle will also be missing three regulars because of international duty, Xavier Arreaga, Raul Ruidiaz and Gustav Svensson.
With just eight games remaining in the consolidated regular season, RSL currently occupies the eighth and final playoff spot, but just one point ahead of San Jose. Collecting any points from its trip to the Northwest would be massive in the bigger picture.