Preview: Seattle, RSL clash at CenturyLink in playoff rematch
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v REAL SALT LAKE
Fri., Nov. 2, CenturyLink Field, 10 pm ET/7 p.m. PT
NBCSN (blackout in Seattle) | Local TV: KONG Seattle/ROOT Sports NW
- Hilario Grajeda.
- SAR (bench): Paul Scott; JAR (opposite): Jeff Hosking;
- 4th: Allen Chapman
- SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC -- OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL surgery); DF Andrew Duran (L knee ACL surgery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Leo Gonzalez (R hamstring strain); FW Eddie Johnson (L adductor strain); PROBABLE: DF Patrick Ianni (R calf strain); MF Andy Rose (L adductor strain)
- REAL SALT LAKE -- OUT: GK Lalo Fernandez (R wrist fracture); QUESTIONABLE: DF Chris Schuler (R quad strain); PROBABLE: DF Nat Borchers (L quad strain); MF Ned Grabavoy (R quad strain); DF Jamison Olave (L hamstring strain); FW Paulo Junior (R foot contusion)
- SEA 2 wins, 7 GF ; RSL 3 wins, 7 GF ; Ties 4
- SEA 0 wins, 0 GF ; RSL 1 win, 1 GF ; Ties 2
AT CENTURYLINK FIELD:
- 5/12: SEA 0, RSL 1 (Espindola 50)
- 10/17: SEA 0, RSL 0
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: SEA 1 win, 2 GF ; RSL 1 win, 3 GF ; Ties 0
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
- Sounders FC traveled to LA knowing a draw or win would secure second place in the West and home field for the second leg of the series against Real Salt Lake. But the 1-0 loss means the rematch of last year's semifinal series will be flipped.
- "Obviously we need to win at home and we need to get something on the road. We are at home first, last year it was the opposite, so we need to do the same kind of job that they did on us last year," said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid.
- Sounders FC came into the final league match riding a four-game undefeated streak in league play, but saw it come to an end. "Sometimes when you get slapped a little bit towards the end of the season it can be a good thing because it reminds you of how that feels and it is a feeling that you don't want to have come back," said Schmid. "I think this team definitely has what it takes to make a run at the championship."
- There are some injury concerns for Seattle. Striker Eddie Johnson was forced off before halftime in LA with a hamstring injury, though it's not as bad as originally feared. "There's an outside chance on Friday and for sure the second game shouldn't be a problem," Schmid said.
- If Johnson is unable to post, Schmid said Sammy Ochoa, David Estrada or Steve Zakuani could slot up top alongside Fredy Montero, or that Mauro Rosales could move into a forward role. "We figured out the other problems we had with injuries," Rosales said. "We are going to miss [Johnson] because he's a very important player for us, but somebody is going to step in and do the best job."
- Center back Jeff Parke came off shortly after the start of the second half. "I didn't want to pull anything right now. It's crunch time and it's more important that I'm healthy (rather) than being out there and trying to push through a game that doesn't really have too much meaning for us," Parke said.
- In addition, defenders Leo Gonzalez and Patrick Ianni are "getting better every day," Schmid said.
- A year ago, when Sounders FC lost to RSL 3-2 on aggregate, Mauro Rosales missed both matches through injury. "The guys that are healthy to play are the guys that are going to play," Schmid said. "Just as last year, we missed Mauro, and if Eddie can't play, we'll miss him. Other guys will have to step up and do the business."
REAL SALT LAKE
- While Real Salt Lake concluded the season on a five-game undefeated streak, they've been shut out in back-to-back league games, ending the campaign with scoreless draws vs. Seattle and Vancouver.
- "Literally, I think that is just six inches this way or that way with some of the passes, or the final touches, or somebody just calms down to make a little bit better decision when on the attacking third," RSL head coach Jason Kreis said. " ... But I also think that it can be a positive thing to have a little disappointment in our minds heading into the playoffs to give us a little bit of an extra edge."
- Including their final CONCACAF Champions League match, a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica's Herediano, Real have not scored in their last 331 competitive minutes.
- "It's a little bit concerning, so we will try and work on it, but if we can't fix it then I guess we better practice penalty kicks, because that's what we're looking for if we finish 0-0," said Kyle Beckerman. "I know the guys can score. I know they're trying. Sabo and Espindola have plenty more goals to come. We will be counting on them to score some for us."
- While Kreis appeared to have rung in the changes for the season finale, nearly every starter had been in the first XI over the last month. Goalkeeper Kyle Reynish was coming off a long layoff -- his last first-team match was May 26.
- "Look at the back four plus one; we had one player playing out of position, we had another player who hadn't played in the last month and who's still a very young center back. We had Kenny Mansally playing left back and he hasn't played in a couple of months in a real game, we had Kyle Reynish playing goalkeeper who hasn't played a game in I can't remember when, and I think all of them performed very, very well."
- There still could be some injury concerns for the central defense partnership of Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave.
"Borchers had a lingering quadriceps injury. ... We made a collective decision that it was a silly thing for him to continue on with what's a slight strain in his quadriceps which could put us in the exact same situation we were in last year," said Kreis. "... (Olave) is still feeling a little bit of pain in his hamstring. ... With all the injury issues he has had this year, I'm not going to play him in this last game, and hopefully with another week of rehab he will be ready."