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Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake Preview & Match Thread

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One of these teams will advance to play Sporting Kansas City in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Seattle Sounders FC Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Where and How to Watch

When: Tuesday, November 23, 2021 at 9:30 PM CT (Kickoff 9:38)

Where: Lumen Field

How to Watch/Stream: FS1 | FOX Deportes

On Saturday night, Sporting Kansas City advanced out of the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs by defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1. The comments of Caps interim head coach Vanni Sartini may have had a bit to do with it.

Khiry Shelton seemed particularly motivated and upset by Sartini’s comments.

It seems unlikely the coaches and players from Real Salt Lake or the Seattle Sounders will make the same mistake. However, one nice perk SKC are getting is that their first round game is three days before this matchup. That means, Seattle or RSL will enter Sunday on short rest while SKC get eight days between games.

Who do Sporting KC Want to Play?

This one is tough. There is something inside me that wants Sporting Kansas City to face Seattle just because that game would be fire considering what’s happened between the teams this year. SKC are 2-1-0 in 2021 against Seattle, winning both games in Seattle. If the Sounders advance, the game would be at Lumen Field.

However, if RSL wins, then Sporting KC get at least one more home playoff game. So for that reason, I have to say RSL is the preferred opponent. Plus, Seattle are clearly the better team (RSL are the 7th and final seed). Plus, it’s still a rivalry game if Salt Lake advance. And it’ll be a chance to avenge the missed handball in the season finale. However, something that should give everyone pause is that RSL are 2-0-0 against KC this year.

Seattle’s Recent Form

  • October 20th @ Colorado Rapids - 1-1 Draw
  • October 23rd vs. Sporting KC - 1-2 Loss
  • October 26th @ LAFC - 0-3 Loss
  • November 1st vs. LA Galaxy - 1-1 Draw
  • November 7th @ Vancouver Whitecaps - 1-1 Draw

Seattle are winless in their last six (they lost to the Houston Dynamo before the five games above). They won the proceeding four games before that and you have to go back to September 18th to find their next loss... against Real Salt Lake. 1-0 in Utah. They aren’t exactly lighting the world on fire right now.

Salt Lake’s Recent Form

It’s kind of wild that RSL are the team in “good” form with just two wins in their last five. I still contend they are the worst team and with SKC being so healthy after Saturday, they’d be in much better shape than the exhausted Sporting team that went into Decision Day so banged up.

Seattle Player(s) to Watch

The Sounders, much like Sporting KC, have been dealing with injuries and are looking to get back many of their stars. Jordan Morris just returned from injury. Raul Ruidiaz didn’t play at all in October and missed the finale against Vancouver. They also have injuries to Joao Paulo and Nico Lodeiro. If they, like SKC, show up healthy in the playoffs, the sky is the limit.

RSL Player(s) to Watch

The most obvious choice is Damir Kreilach. He played in all but one of their games, bagged 16 goals and nine assists, including the game winner against SKC on Decision Day. The question is, who helps him. Albert Rusnak has 11 and 11, so he’s an obvious choice.

The team also needs one of their third options to step up. It could be Rubio Rubin (8G, 5A), Anderson Julio (8G, 1A) or newer signing Bobby Wood (2G, 1A). Outside of Rusnak and Kreilach, who are on fire, you have to go back to October 16th to find one of their other stars contributing (Julio and Rubin both scored).

Prediction

Seattle has a history of beating RSL. Sure, RSL won the last time these teams met but that was at Rio Tinto and Seattle had the Leagues Cup final just days later against Leon. Historically, across the MLS regular season, playoffs and US Open Cup games, Seattle are crushing Salt Lake. They are up 14-3-3 lifetime in the series. Over that stretch, Seattle has outscored RSL 33-12.

Plus, Seattle just find a way to win in the playoffs. They have played in four of the last five MLS Cups (winning two of them). RSL haven’t been in an MLS Cup final since 2013 (we all remember how that one played out).

One interesting side note in the series is that RSL’s lone MLS Cup win, came on a neutral field... in Seattle. They beat the LA Galaxy there in penalties in 2009. That said, I still think Seattle gets the job done. But it would be humorous to see RSL, who, arguable shouldn’t be in the playoffs, then eliminate the Sounders.

Final Score: 3-1 Seattle