Tag Archive for Seattle Sounders

RSL season counting down with 10 matches left – up next Seattle

It seems like just yesterday that the RSL season was kicking off and fans were unsure of what to expect after the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007, and with just 10 matches left in the season I expect many fans are still finding themselves wondering what to expect.

RSL sits currently in 3rd place in the Western Conference with a 10-7-7 record and 37 points or 1.54 points per match (a good improvement over the 1.21 ppm from last year). A 1.54 ppm would have put RSL in 4th place in the West last year, shield winners New York Red Bulls ended the season with a 1.76 and won a tie breaker with FC Dallas to claim the shield.  Currently MLS is lead by the Colorado Rapids with a 1.86 points per match, RSL’s 1.54 is tied for 5th in MLS at this point.

This weekend RSL will travel to Seattle to take on the Sounders who’s fans are probably feeling like RSL’s fans did last year, when things looked real bleak by August. The Sounders are 7-12-3 with a 1.24 ppm and 8 points out of the last playoff spot in the West, but things in MLS can change quickly. Both teams are coming off wins (RSL 3-1 over CHI & SEA 3-1 over ORL) and both have two wins in their last 5 matches. Both teams needing wins to close the gap with teams they are chasing, for RSL it is LA, Colorado and FC Dallas the 3 teams in front of them in the West and their next 3 opponents (all at home). For Seattle it is Vancouver, San Jose and Portland the 3 teams between them and a playoff sport, 4 of their next 5 matches are against those teams.  Both teams are 8 points behind that key team (FCD in 1st & PDX in the final playoff spot), so it would be easy to label it a must win for both, but Seattle is clearly the more desperate team.

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Real Salt Lake look to continue US Open Cup run vs Seattle

On Saturday night at Dallas many fans were shocked as the RSL lineup looked more like a Monarchs starting XI than RSL’s but with a busy schedule the changes provided some guys to rest, while younger players got a chance to make their case for more attention and minutes.   That busier schedule includes the US Open Cup match on Tuesday against the Seattle Sounders, the winner will need just 3 more wins to claim a trophy and CCL spot.

The Sounders are tied with the Chicago Fire as 4 time winners of the US Open Cup with wins in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2014, and lost to SKC in the finals of the 2012 version.  So there is no doubt that Seattle takes this tournament seriously, they have struggled in their attempt to win other trophies, so this one holds a special place for them and their fans.

Real Salt Lake has made two serious runs at the US Open Cup, in 2013 they leveraged a favorable home schedule to make it to the finals before losing to DC United 1-0 in the final. Last year the team made it to the semifinals before losing to Sporting KC, who would eventually lift the trophy as tournament winners.

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Week 2 brings a critical matchup for both teams RSL vs SEA – Match Preview

Real Salt Lake is desperate to remove the stigma of 2015 that crept into their season opener on Sunday, with a red card and then late goals given up to turn a win into a draw. Meanwhile the Sounders are simply looking to take “the step” to MLS Cup, in their 7th season in the league you have to believe that few teams are under more pressure to not only make the playoffs but hoist MLS Cup as the Sounders are.  So while it is just week two in a very long season, both sides will be looking to get a win on Saturday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium.

One huge story for Saturday could be who doesn’t play, for RSL a rib injury to Javier Morales kept him out of training on Thursday and he is unlikely for Saturday, and RSL will be without Demar Phillips who will be serving his red card suspension.  Seattle comes in without Brad Evans who picked up an injury on Sunday, but both Erik Friberg and Tyronne Mears returned to practice for the Sounders and will likely play a role on Saturday. The Sounders will be without Oniel Fisher who will be serving his red card suspension.  The loss of two starting defenders could be a huge factor in the match on Saturday if RSL can find a way to take advantage of it.

RSL holds a slight lead in the head to head matches with 7 wins to Seattle’s 6 and 4 draws when the two sides meet.  Last year RSL won 2-0 at home and lost 1-3 in Seattle.

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The 2016 MLS season is here, what to expect

Today is the day, the 21st season of MLS action gets under way, in many ways 2016 is the calm after one storm and before an even bigger one, 2015 saw two new team jump into the fray of MLS (NYCFC and Orlando City SC) both came with some big names, Kaka, Frank Lampard (well eventually), David Villa, Mix Diskerud (is he still a big name?) and both struggled on the pitch to compete as neither made the playoffs in a rather weak Eastern Conference. It was also the start of the new TV deal for MLS, a new CBA, and lots and lots of new sponsorships for the league.  So with no new teams this year and a year where there simply haven’t been any of those huge signings like last year, don’t forget we also saw Steve Gerrard, Jermaine Jones, Giovani dos Santos and Sebastian Giovinco join the league, but maybe those come this summer?

There are new stars but smaller names, like Ashley Cole, Lucas Ontivero, Yura Movsisyan, Carlos Gruezo and Shkelzen Gashi, we also the return of a player I really like is Simon Dawkins now a DP with San Jose and there are a lot of open DP spots around the league.  We saw some big name players change places, Dan Kennedy, Jeff Larentowicz, and Mike Magee to LA Galaxy, Marco Pappa and Jermaine Jones to Colorado, Marcelo Sarvas to DC United, Maximiliano Urruti and Mauro Rosales to FC Dallas, Christian Miadana to Houston, Harry Shipp to Montreal, Brad Davis and Justin Mapp to Sporting KC, Will Johnson and Clint Irwin to Toronto FC and Blaz Perez to Vancouver.

All of this before we see 2 new teams likely join the league in 2017 and then 2 more in 2018, so even without those huge name signings it is a big year for the league as those new sponsors will want to see some ROI and the league needs to find a way to get the TV numbers moving up in a hurry.

So as a fan what should you expect?  Will it be another year with the big clubs missing out on MLS Cup (come on none of you picked Portland vs Columbus last year, don’t lie about it)? Well it is a crap shoot to try to pick who will win what at this point of the season, MLS has too many variables to be very accurate but I do have some thoughts

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Real Salt Lake look to make history at Seattle – Match Preview

A couple years ago Real Salt Lake went on an amazing unbeaten streak at Rio Tinto Stadium, that streak was ended by Seattle, now RSL will be looking to set a new record for most matches without a loss to start a MLS season with a win or a draw at Seattle.  The record would be nice but for me it is about a team that has overcome so much already this season proving that together they are capable of amazing things.

With a completely new coaching staff entering into the 2014 season, including a rookie head coach in Jeff Cassar, expectations were tempered and when you factor in a rather brutal schedule (or what looked like on when it was released) I can assure you that nobody was talking about setting a record for most matches without a loss to start the season.  Then came the actual matches, the injuries, the call ups, more injuries, and some ugly matches, and here we sit heading into the 13th match of the season with a 6-0-6 record.  There are so many places that one has to give credit, the breakout season that Joao Plata is having with 6 goals and 3 assists, the surprise off season signing of Luke Muholland who has added 3 goals and 2 assists while playing in every RSL match so far this season, the dominance of Jeff Attinella when filling in for Nick Rimando with a 0.75 GAA, 2 clean sheets and a MLS save of the week.

Of course we also have the things that don’t surprise us, Kyle Beckerman’s commanding presence at the back of the diamond, which over the last two years have seen him claw his way back into the USMNT and onto the World Cup roster.  I am so very proud of the heart and passion that Kyle has brought to RSL over the years, nobody deserves a trip to the World Cup more than the most consistent player in MLS.  We have another MVP type season coming from Javier Morales, with 4 goals and 5 assists he continues to put his stamp on RSL and MLS as one of the best creative players the league has had.  The consistency of the RSL defenders, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, along with some great work from Aaron Maund as well.

That just scratches the surface of things that have lead RSL to where they are, when you think about Seattle, you have to think Clint Dempsey (8 goals, 3 assists) and Obafemi Martins (5 goals, 6 assists) two guys who struggled to make an impact at the end of the 2013 season but who have lifted the Sounders to the top of the MLS table early in 2014.  The Sounders have also gotten a real boost from some new players this season as Chad Marshall came over from the Crew and has looked like a younger and better version of himself in Rave Green while leading the Seattle backline, in the midfield Gonzalo Pineda and Marco Pappa have fit in nicely working with Osvaldo Alonso, and a mix of Lamar Neagle, Brad Evans and others.  At 8-3-2 the Sounders have done something that most MLS teams can rarely pull off, they have given up the first goal in 6 of their matches and found a way to come back and claim wins in 4 of them, that is impressive.

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Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly III

If there has been a bigger MLS regular season match this season than the Friday night showdown between RSL and Seattle, please tell me what it is.  Real Salt Lake has been holding on to first place in both the Western Conference and overall MLS table for a couple months, the Sounders are the hottest team in MLS, so when they meet for the final time of the regular season with a possible swing of 6 points on the line, well expect a very intense match.

Of course every time these two teams meet it tends to be intense, only 2 of the 11 regular season matches have been decided by more than a single goal (a 2-0 Seattle win in March 2009, and RSL’s 2-0 win in June of this year), there have been 3 0-0 draws in the regular season series that sees RSL hold a 5-2-4 advantage and even a 2-1-2 edge in Seattle. The Sounders have 7 wins in their last 10 matches and 4 straight wins and have clawed their way into second place in the West, RSL had a rough July but went 3-1-2 in August to and have scored multiple goals in their last 4 matches.

The Good:

Kyle Beckerman – I always get a good laugh out of MLS fans who seem to have a strict love/hate relationship with Kyle, it is the same at the USMNT level. I get it, he plays hard, he is always in the middle of the action, and if your team is playing against him you will likely resort to making fun of his hair.  Why, because you can find so few flaws in his game, if he is called on to be the guy who breaks up plays in the midfield before they can develop, he does it, if he is called on to be more offensive minded, he can do that too.  No matter what the coach asks of him, he can do it.  Yes he does have a +10 when it comes to fouls committed vs fouls suffered, but surprisingly he has only been whistled for 24 fouls all season.  Off the pitch he is a laid back, mellow guy, soft spoken and great with fans, but when he steps on the pitch he is a warrior pure and simple.  I remember hating him when he was with the Rapids, that is the kind of player he is, you hate him when he is playing against your team, but when he is on your side, you can’t help but love him.

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Who is going to win the Supporters’ Shield? What the numbers say

So one thing is clear in all sports including MLS, there is no place like home.  In MLS the home team wins most of the matches, no team in the league this year has won more matches on the road than they have at home.  In fact only Toronto FC with 2 road wins and 2 home wins are even close, the top teams in both the East and West all get a result in a majority of their home matches.

 

  • Real Salt Lake – 8-2-3 at home, 5-6-3 on the road
  • Montreal – 9-1-3 at home, 3-6-2 on the road
  • Los Angeles – 8-1-2 at home, 4-8-2 on the road

and on and on, so while one could spend a lot of time trying to analysis in depth the remaining schedules of MLS teams, looking at who they play but to be brutally honest I think that simply looking at how teams have performed at home and on the road so far this year provides a great deal of insight on how they likely will perform for the remainder of the year.  Now it isn’t bullet proof, we have seen teams get hot down the stretch or go cold but averages are fairly good indicators.  So let’s take a look at the how things look like:

Real Salt Lake has average 2.08 points per match at home, and 1.28 points per match on the road thru their 27 matches played earning 45 points.  RSL has 4 remaining home matches so if trends stay the same they would earn 8 more points at home, they have 3 more matches on the road and should get 4 points on the road.  So with 45 points earned and a projected 12 points, RSL will likely end the season with 57 points.

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Signing Clint Dempsey is great for Seattle, but is it for MLS? (Updated)

You will forget this statement by the time you get to the end of this post, but try to remember it. I am fine with a MLS owner spending their own money/revenue to sign DP players at any salary level they feel is appropriate to help their team get better.

The Sounders have struggled for much of the season, injuries, call ups, and a lot of changes to their roster have left them a bit desperate to make a big move, one that will shake things up both on and off the pitch.  Clint Dempsey fits that bill perfectly, it would be hard to imagine him not making them a much better team on the pitch, and for the fans who have been waiting for something big to get them back on track to win some trophies well they have to be impressed by this level of commitment of the club.

There had been some rumblings on twitter about Dempsey and the Sounders, but most people took it as typical “silly season” type of stuff, then Thursday night a single picture (of Jorge Perea of energy drink Golazo fame with Clint in the San Francisco airport) seemed to have taken it from rumor to story, a the story that I am sure a whole lot of people in Seattle and New York probably wished they could have kept secret until they could hold an official unveiling event, but within 24 hours a rumor became fact and the cat was out of the bag as the Sounders sign Clint Dempsey.

However as a fan of MLS it leaves me scratching my head a little bit, given that we just heard Don Garber talk about how MLS was so proud of their parity and then to sign off on a team paying a 9 million dollar transfer fee (3x the current team salary cap in MLS of $2,950,000) and paying a 8 million dollar a year salary for 4 years (more than David Beckham and Robbie Keane were reported to have made combined last year).  When we have a salary cap that grows at a rate smaller than the CBA mandated raises given to players that forces teams to get rid of players on a regular basis in order to stay within the salary cap, it just seems a bit off.  When we have players that are making $35,125 a year (that would be under $17 an hour if players were paid based on a 40 hour work week), paying a guy almost $22K a day just seems a bit off.

It also leaves a couple of things that MLS just needs to deal with:

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Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly – Match Preview

Well it is match day and that means it is time to take a look at what I think will be the players and match ups that will be the key factors in the match.  It has been interesting this week to hear what the players, fans, and coaches have had to say about RSL vs Seattle and if this is a rivalry in the making or something different.

I think it comes down to what you consider a rivalry, for me it probably more about the intensity of the matches both being played and in the stands.  I don’t believe I have to hate a team or their fans for them to be a rival, but some do.  I think the intensity of matches as well as the importance of the matches between RSL and Seattle have created a rivalry but one that if probably focused more on respect than hate.  I consider that both are teams that joined MLS well into the history of the league, each side has taken a very different path to success both on and off the pitch, one is building their history day by day and one has laid claim to a history built in other leagues.  More on the rivalry aspect later;

The Good:

Javier Morales – While I don’t expect Javi to start the match, you never know, but I do think that with several road matches in front of RSL in coming weeks that they will try to get Javi into the match at some point to get him further on his road to full match fitness.  This could be a very good thing for RSL, or a very bad thing.  Javi has never scored a goal or provided an assist against Seattle in the 6 regular season matches he has played against them, and has often been victimized by a “hack-a-Javi” style of defense.  Still it should be interesting to see how he does on Saturday.

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Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders – 1st half preview

For a 4th time this year RSL will take on the Seattle Sounders on Friday night in the 1st half of their Western Conference Semi-final series.  This will mark the 3rd trip for RSL to Seattle this year, they are 1-0-1 in the two matches played at CenturyLink this year, a 1-0 win and then most recently a 0-0 draw.  These teams have become very familiar with each other over the last couple of years, and faced each other in the Semi-finals last year as well.  That series featured a 3-0 RSL win at Rio Tinto Stadium in the 1st leg and a Sounders 2-0 win in the 2nd leg, which allowed RSL to advance to the Western Conference final last year.

The teams ended the season just a single point apart in the standings, RSL had 57 points to the 56 of the Sounders, RSL had 17 wins and the Sounders had 15, the Sounders pulled off 11 draws, while RSL settled for just 6 draws this year. Both sides were 11-4-2 at home this season, while RSL had the better road record at 6-7-4, while the Sounders were 4-4-9 away from home.  So while the Sounders choose to focus on their local “Cascadia Cup” opponents as their top rivals, I tend to believe based on the action on the pitch that along with LA that the Sounds have become one of the better rivals of RSL.  As RSL pointed out in their recently released infographic these teams have been over the past seasons two of the more evenly matches sides in MLS.

So what can you look forward to on Friday night?

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