HERRIMAN, UT (Thursday, March 2, 2023) – Real Salt Lake (1-0-0, 3 pts.) travels for a second consecutive week to open the 2023 Major League Soccer regular season, heading to face Seattle Sounders FC (1-0-0, 3 pts.) this Saturday at Lumen Field (8:30p.m. MT kickoff on the Apple MLS Season Pass; 7:30 p.m. MT radio pre-game w/ David James & Jay Nolly via www.KSLSports.com / 1280 AM / 97.5 FM and www.KSLNewsRadio.com / 1160 AM). The top-of-the-table continues RSL’s 19th campaign in Club history.
Last Saturday at Vancouver, RSL recovered from a dismal first 45 minutes and an 0-1 halftime deficit at Whitecaps FC to score in the 70th and 73rd minutes for a shock capture of three points on the British Columbian turf. RSL DF Justen Glad ran onto a looping free kick from MF Maikel Chang to equalize in the 70th minute, completing a 10-minute period that saw several chances narrowly miss. As the clock wound into the 73rd minute, RSL Captain Damir Kreilach – making his first MLS appearance in nearly 10 months, due to a back injury that forced him out for all but five matches in 2022 – slammed home an offering in the box from FW Jefferson Savarino, whose give-and-go with DF Bryan Oviedo created the game-winning opportunity.
RSL has won seven and drawn seven of its last 14 season-opening MLS matches, with 13 of those results coming away from home. RSL’s last season-opening loss came in 2009 at what was then Qwest Field against the Sounders in their inaugural season, a campaign which ended up culminating in RSL hoisting MLS Cup 2009 before the Seattle fans at the same venue, now known as Lumen Field, following a shootout victory over LA Galaxy.
RSL arrives in Seattle Saturday winners in three of the rivals’ last four meetings, including a 1-0 home victory in Utah courtesy former RSL FW Bobby Wood during the 2022 home opener last March. RSL has also emerged victorious in each of its last two road visits to Seattle, with a 2-1 win last year – game-winner supplied by DF Andrew Brody – as well as a memorable 0-0, 120-minute decision that saw RSL emerge 6-5 on kicks from the penalty mark. In that playoff match, Glad supplied the decisive kick to shock the world and vault RSL through to the 2021 Western Conference Semifinals. Prior to the two recent results at SEA, RSL had lost 10 of its previous 11 visits to Seattle from 2013 onward.
Despite the departure of former RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey from Seattle, multiple ties bind the clubs, whose rivalry was formed during contentious postseason series in 2010 and 2011. Former RSL manager Freddy Juarez joined the Sounders’ staff in August, 2021, after 11 years with the Utah organization, while another former RSL GM, Craig Waibel, Lagerwey’s successor from 2015-19, is now in his third season with the Pacific Northwest side. Former RSL playmaker Albert Rusnák signed with Seattle 14 months ago as a free agent, after notching 41 goals and adding 39 assists for the Claret-and-Cobalt from 2017-21.