Friday, March 27, 2009

We’re Ready to Rumble: Bring on the Sounders



Real Salt Lake –vs – Seattle Sounders FC

Saturday March 28, 2009: 8:30 PM

KUTV 2, KALL 700

Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington

Well, it’s finally upon us – tomorrow’s First Kick for RSL against the un-expansion-like Seattle Sounders. As you know Seattle had an impressive MLS debut last week against the expansion-like New York Red Bulls. The Emerald City darlings were led by young Colombian sensation Fredy Montero, who notched two goals and an assist in front of the raucous crowd of 32,000-plus at Qwest Field in Seattle. As a result, Montero ended up bringing home awards for both MLS Player of the Week and Goal of the Week.

However, while all eyes were on Montero, midfielders Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso played keyed roles helping to dominate possession of the ball in the opener. Forward Nate Jaqua also played quite well in the match, and looked very nimble working out on the edge of the box, combining with the rest of the attacking players.

Keys for Real Salt Lake

When asked what the key would be for RSL defensively to slow down the strong Sounder attack, RSL midfielder Javier Morales said essentially “the key is for us to keep the ball.” When asked a similar question, RSL defender Nat Borchers basically agreed – to paraphrase, “we’re best defensively when the ball doesn’t get past the midfield.” This is an area that RSL could present a much more significant challenge than the NYRB’s were able to last week. Morales will be a key in this role.

Although NYRB forward, Juan Pablo Angel, had a few chances in the match, Seattle’s defense was never really tested and didn’t face any consistent pressure as the Red Bulls only managed 8 shots. Real Salt Lake, on the other hand, averaged over 14 shots per game last season.

In addition to RSL’s midfield being a key, and RSL putting up more shots than the Red Bulls did to challenge Seattle, Real Salt Lake has the capability of quick counter-attacks with the speedy Yura Movsisyan and the speedier Robbie Findley. Look for quick distribution out of the back to be a focus when Seattle presses forward with four or five guys in the box.

Keys for Seattle

Seattle will need to feed off of the energy of the exuberant home crowd once again. Getting an early goal last week was a huge feet for the expansion team. They will need to try to repeat that performance this week.

Since Seattle saw little resistance in the midfield last week and were able to easily transition into the attack, they may be forced to show that they can create a strong buildup on a consistent basis during this match. At the same time, they will need to slow down the RSL midfield, and keep them from comfortably moving into the attack on their side.

How does Ljungberg fit in? As an attacking player he will likely get into the mix with Jacqua and Montero and put pressure on RSL to defend. In the process, Seattle needs to make sure that they don’t get overextended and commit to getting back defensively in the midfield. The forwards will also need to pressure the RSL defenders when they have the ball to try to create turnovers and disrupt RSL’s flow of play.

With the young right back, Tony Beltran, filling in for injured Ian Joy, Seattle may look to exploit RSL on their left flank. Jacqua and Evans occupied this side of the field in the offense for Seattle last week. However, it was the right side and Montero, that was the source of much of the creativity for the team last week. If RSL defender Chris Wingert bombs forward frequently as he is accustomed, he and his teammates will need to show some quick recovery in order to avoid being exploited by the Seattle attack.


2-2 draw. I think Seattle is a decent team, but I think RSL may be able to expose some chinks in the armor that weren’t seen a week ago. I think RSL is a better team at this point but the environment will favor Seattle especially early in the match. In addition, if RSL has a potential key weakness it’s scoring goals consistently.


OUT: DF Taylor Graham (left sesamoid fracture); GK Chris Eylander (right knee PCL sprain); MF Peter Vagenas (knee surgery);

PROBABLE: MF Freddie Ljungberg (left hip); MF Sanna Nyassi (L hamstring strain) …


OUT: FW Luis Miguel Escalada (R ankle sprain); DF IanJoy (L hamstring strain);

QUESTIONABLE: DF Robbie Russell (R rotator cuff surgery);

PROBABLE: DF Tony Beltran (L hamstring strain); FW Robbie
Findley (L quadriceps strain); FW Tino Nuñez (R meniscus surgery)


Ljungberg will “play part of the game for sure” –> NewsTribune

Sounders FC –vs- Real Salt Lake Match Preview –> Prost Amerika

Salt Lake begins their title quest –> Sounder at Heart

‘Shocking’ new team awaits RSL –> Salt Lake Tribune

Know Thine Enemy: Real Salt Lake of Sandy, Utah –> Seattlest

Sounders FC commence hostilities with Real Salt Lake –> MLSnet

Swedish star expected to play Saturday for Sounders –>