SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake are looking to repeat the defensive performance from their midweek shutout of Chicago. Seattle are looking to keep a five-game winning streak going.
And that means things are about as normal as ever for these two titans of the Western Conference, set for a showdown at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Saturday (10 pm ET; watch LIVE online). It’s a match in which RSL will need to put the clamps on a Sounders attack that is just heating up.
“I think Seattle’s a much more dangerous team than Chicago, that’s for sure,” said defender Nat Borchers as he got set to board the team’s flight to the Emerald City. “So we’re going to have our hands full.”
Borchers pointed out shutting down service from wide positions as just one of the challenges that they are likely to face.
“I think if you look where a lot of their service is coming from, where the goals are coming from, I think [Mauro] Rosales really unlocks things for them,” explained Borchers. “I think we’re going to have to get tight to him. We’re going to have to double team him in certain situations if we can.”
But Borchers pointed out that there are other talented players to look out for on the Sounders squad, and the defense will need to be aware of each of the threats that exist.
“We’re going to have to make sure we look after another guy named [Fredy] Montero,” Borchers deadpanned. “He’s pretty good, pretty crafty.”
While Montero is a terror for opposing defenses inside the penalty area and at the top of the box, left back Chris Wingert still believes that the wide play is likely the key in this one.
“It’s gonna be important for us on the outside to do well,” he explained. “They have really good wide midfield play.”
In the center of the midfield, however, RSL are going to be a man short. Talismanic playmaker Javier Morales didn’t make the trip to Seattle after picking up a quad strain midweek against Chicago. Youngster Luis Gil is likely to start in his place.
It’s nothing new for RSL, who’ve dealt with injuries all season. And Seattle have, too – they’re probably going to be without Álvaro Fernández, and attacker Steve Zakuani is still a month or more away from making his return.
Even without those two, however, Wingert still doesn’t see any chinks in the armor for the men in Rave Green. And that means the RSL defense will need to be sharp for a full 90 minutes.
“I think they’re so good because of their balance,” said Wingert. “I don’t really see any major weaknesses in their team.”