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July 4, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake, preview and prediction

Real Salt Lake Logo.jpgSounders FC (7-5-5) vs. Real Salt Lake (10-6-2)

Wednesday, July 4, 7 p.m., Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah

TV/radio: KING-5, 97.3 KIRO-FM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)

Spanish TV/radio: KOMO2 (Ch. 114), La Gran D 99.3 FM

Referee: Hilario Grajeda


M Kyle Beckerman — It all starts with the captain, who will be returning from a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation. A tremendous two-way player who has worked his way into the U.S. national team scene under new coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Will he be able to dominate the run of play with Seattle counterpart Osvaldo Alonso suspended?

GK Nick Rimando — Among the league leaders in wins (9), shutouts (5) and goals-against average (1.19). But there’s no stat for his experience or an ability to make saves many others can’t due to his anticipation and athleticism. Sigi Schmid, who coached Rimando at UCLA, has described the goalkeeper in the past as someone teammates really want to work hard for.

F Alvaro Saborio — He’s been the thorn in the Sounders’ side, with four goals in six career games against Seattle. The savvy Costa Rican had a couple in the memorable 3-0 thrashing in the first leg of a Western Conference semifinal last year. I’ll also never forget his last-minute equalizer at Rio Tinto in 2010.


Eddie Johnson/Fredy Montero vs. Jamison Olave/Nat Borchers — RSL won this matchup in its 1-0 road win in Seattle a couple months ago, as coach Jason Kreis noted after the match. With Alonso suspended, Seattle’s forwards will need to make the most of what might not be many scoring chances. Both RSL defenders are listed as probable with injuries, so we’ll see if they’re able to go and effective.

Tony Beltran vs. Alvaro Fernandez — Outside backs don’t often get a lot of love, but Beltran is the only RSL player who’s started all 18 games this season. Unless I’m mistaken, he’s been mostly on the right side, which means he’ll likely match up with Seattle’s scrutinized DP. Flaco will likely be playing with something to prove.

Winless streak vs. losing streak — Neither team has done very well at all of late. The Sounders’ skid has been much longer, but with intermittent ties. RSL’s slump has been brief but severe, with three straight losses for the first time since 2007. Both teams will be playing with urgency, but which will be able to turn that into good soccer and production?


I’ve picked the Sounders to come out of their slump a couple times now, which knowing my prediction history might be the reason the woes have continued for so long.

But I can’t pick Seattle in this one.

The team hasn’t done enough, especially defensively, to make me think it can come into Rio Tinto and escape with a win, even if RSL has been struggling. Osvaldo Alonso’s suspension (a bummer on his first Fourth of July as a U.S. citizen) will loom too large for the visitors, who look a different team without the star midfielder.

Real Salt Lake 2, Sounders FC 0

RSL — Fabian Espindola (Will Johnson) 39′

RSL — Jonny Steele (Luis Gil) 82′

* * *

What do you think? How do you see this one playing out?


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