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May 28, 2011 at 12:25 AM

Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake, preview and prediction

Real Salt Lake Logo.jpgSounders FC (4-4-5) vs. Real Salt Lake (5-1-2)

Saturday, May 28, 6 p.m., Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah

Broadcast: KONG-TV 6/16, 97.3 KIRO FM (Rob Stone/Pete Fewing/Erin Mayovsky)

Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3 FM

Referee: Mark Kadlecik

KEY RSL PLAYERS

M Kyle Beckerman — The captain and heart of the RSL team. Has played a team-high 657 minutes, but no other stats will really quantify his impact fairly. The 29-year-old has earned a couple caps for the U.S. men’s national team. His leadership will be needed with all the team’s recent losses.

GK Nick Rimando — 0.29. That’s his goals-against average. Not bad. So is his 92-percent save percentage. Kevin Hartman was the latest goalkeeper to stand up big against Sounders FC and there’s no reason he can’t be the next. Isn’t the USMNT’s emergency third ‘keeper for no reason.

D Nat Borchers — Jamison Olave gets a lot of love, but he’s missed three games. His center back partner Borchers isn’t as physically intimidating, but he’s just as reliable. Also has five shots this season and an assist, so watch out for him coming forward.

KEY MATCH-UPS

Fabian Espindola vs. Patrick Ianni — RSL Argentine forward is about the only one left up front after all the injuries and call-ups, so he’ll be relied upon to get the ball in the net for a sputtering offense. I’m guessing Ianni gets the start after Hurtado and Parke each played Saturday and Wednesday.

Montero/Fucito/Jaqua vs. Olave — Trying to figure out lineups is tough this week. Coach Sigi Schmid didn’t seem happy at all with Montero after Wednesday’s game, but does he sit him? Fucito showed well, but will he be ready to go again after giving a full 90? Need Jaqua’s size against a towering RSL backline? I think Montero-Jaqua start, but beating the big Colombian will be a test.

Home form vs. road form — Only one team in the East has a better away record than Seattle, though at 1-2-3 I’m not sure it’s something to brag about yet. RSL, as we all know, has been pretty much unbeatable at Rio Tinto. I’m sure the Sounders remember nearly escaping there with the ‘W’ last year.

PREDICTION

Seattle’s had some issues scoring recently, which is no secret. Real Salt Lake has scored one goal in the last four games combined. Needless to say, I’m going to side with the defense on this one.

A more conservative, counter-attacking style served Sounders FC well last time in this game, so I’m expecting to see it again. I’m not sure RSL has the horses on offense to break down Seattle’s back line if it stays disciplined and organized.

I’m doing it again…

Sounders FC 0, Real Salt Lake 0

* * *

What do you think? Scoreless tie?

COMMENTS

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