Seattle, WA (Sports Network) - Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders FC will
duel for first place in the Western Conference when the two sides meet at
CenturyLink Field on Friday.
The Western Conference rivals enter the contest separated by just two points,
though Seattle, occupying second place, holds two games in hand.
The Sounders have done well to ascend up the table in recent weeks, winning
their last four regular season matches to improve to 46 points on the season.
They claimed a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire on Saturday thanks an 89th-
minute own goal from Gonzalo Segares.
It looks likely that Seattle will enter Friday's clash with limited
involvement from Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson as the duo featured for the
United States national team on Tuesday. Head coach Sigi Schmid revealed that
they probably won't start the match but that they could play a role off the
bench if needed.
Even without Dempsey and Johnson, the Sounders still should give a good
account of themselves as they have churned out some inspired defensive
performances of late. Seattle has conceded just one goal over its current
four-game winning streak, and Schmid's men will need to be solid at the back
once again if they hope to contain a Salt Lake side that has exploded to score
11 goals over its last three league matches.
Real Salt Lake most recently edged the Portland Timbers in a 4-2 victory at
Rio Tinto Stadium on Aug. 30, the second straight match in which the Claret
and Cobalt put four past their opponent. For head coach Jason Kreis, it was
nice to see his side avoid a potential letdown following a 4-0 defeat of the
Columbus Crew on Aug. 24.
"I really wasn't (worried), but typically I am," Kreis said after the match.
"I think, right now, we're at that time of year where I don't think you have
to be too worried about motivating the players or getting them to respond
after too good of a game or too bad of a game. I think that we all know what's
in front of us. The opportunity has presented itself for us, and I think that
should mean that every game will get our maximum effort."
It will be interesting to see what type of role Kyle Beckerman plays for Real
Salt Lake on Friday. The Salt Lake talisman enjoyed a 90-minute performance
for the United States against Mexico on Tuesday, making his inclusion for the
club's starting XI on Friday a doubt. But should Salt Lake get an edge,
Beckerman could feature off the bench to add some professionalism and close
out the match.
The Sports Network