Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake – September 9, 2010 at 8:00p.m. PT on Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field; Seattle, Wash.
The Seattle Sounders FC and reigning MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake, two teams exhibiting great form of late, will meet in a late-season Western Conference showdown on Thursday night before a national television audience and capacity crowd on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field. First kick is 8 p.m. PT on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
Undefeated in its last four games against West foes, the Rave Green is seeking a fourth straight home win before beginning an odyssey of four road matches being played in three nations over 12 days. Real Salt Lake will be returning to the site of its most glorious night, last November 22, when it prevailed over the L.A. Galaxy in a shoot-out to claim its first MLS Cup.
Sounders FC (9-9-5, 32 points in league; 12-11-7 overall) has been on domestic tear, losing only once (7-1-2) in 10 games. However the next phase of matches will be most challenging.
The next two MLS games come against defending champion RSL and the Columbus Crew, winner of the last two Supporters’ Shields. The resumption of CONCACAF Champions League adds three more matches this month, and there will be over 13,000 air miles flown across the U.S. and Central America by the time Seattle returns home after playing in Chicago on September 25.
Last week Sounders FC experienced mixed emotions. First came the high notes as it continued its march through the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, bringing the Cup Final to Seattle on October 5 by beating Chivas USA, 3-1, at home midweek. Three days later, in New England, it sustained its first MLS defeat in two months, 3-1 to the Revolution.
Real Salt Lake (12-4-7, 43 points) won, 1-0, at home against New York, tying the record of 22 consecutive home games unbeaten. Owner of an MLS-best plus-21 goal differential, RSL has been more vulnerable on the road, going 3-4-4 and drawing its last three.
Both teams have rebounded from slow starts. Real Salt Lake, after winning just one of its first five, has gone 11-1-6 since April. Not until July did Sounders FC catch fire, going 5-1-2 in its last eight outings.
Seattle seeks its first MLS win over Real since the second game of its inaugural season. The league series is tied at 1-1-1 after the sides finished level at 2-2 in Real Salt Lake’s 2010 home opener on April 10. Although separated by a time zone and 691 miles, for now Salt Lake is Seattle’s closest MLS neighbor.
The Utah side is second in the Western Conference, just one point behind the Galaxy and Crew in the Supporters’ Shield race. Seattle is tied for fifth in the West but is currently in position to grab a wild card playoff slot.
Each team will get the weekend off before playing Champions League dates to begin next week. Sounders FC visits Costa Rica’s CD Saprissa on September 14 and RSL hosts Canadian champion Toronto FC on September 15.
Seattle returns to MLS play on September 19 at Columbus. The two sides will meet again 16 days later in the U.S. Open Cup Final on October 5. Tickets for that match go on sale on Tuesday at 10 a.m. PT.
National TV: ESPN2/Deportes
Talent: JP Dellacamera, John Harkes
Local Radio: KIRO 97.3 FM
Talent: Arlo White
Pregame Talent: Alan Hinton and Peter Fewing with Matt Johnson (radio)