Sounders FC General Manager Garth Lagerwey spent seven seasons at the helm with Real Salt Lake before departing for Seattle and on Saturday he makes his return to Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time as a visitor.
Under his watch, Seattle has added five players this summer, including forward Nelson Valdez, midfielders Andreas Ivanschitz, Thomas and Erik Friberg and defender Roman Torres. Lagerwey has seen early on the benefit of Seattle’s midseason sale last year of DeAndre Yedlin to Tottenham Hotspur, which left the Sounders with bucket-loads of Allocation money, which has allowed them to exceed the salary cap in massive amounts.
On Friday morning, Real Salt Lake’s latest addition, Juan Manuel Martinez, arrived from Argentina. The 29-year-old forward has yet to participate in training with RSL, so it is unclear if the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup champion and 2010 Argentine Footballer of the Year will be available for RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar, but if he’s able, he could provide a good spark for an RSL side looking for some scoring punch, particularly late in matches.
Dr. Jekyll Meets Mr. Hyde
Both teams have shown to be explosively good in stretches and agonizingly inconsistent in others. Once MLS darlings, Seattle underwent a two-month stretch that saw it win just one match – and even that came on a late prayer of a goal from right back Tyrone Mears against 10-man D.C. United. Meanwhile, RSL went just 1-4-0 in a recent stretch of five games in 15 days and is now looking to bounce back from a harrowing 1-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers last week.
Both teams have been hit hard by injuries and international duty all season long and while RSL expects to have its full roster available except for Chris Schuler, Seattle is not expected to have Osvaldo Alonso, Clint Dempsey, Leo Gonzalez, Chad Barrett and Ivanschitz available.
Home, Sweet Home
In seven all-time meetings in MLS regular season play, RSL has a 4-1-2 edge over Seattle. That includes a convincing 2-1 win last year in the lone meeting of the year between the two Western Conference foes. With that home-field advantage, RSL will be looking to get back in the win column after last week’s home loss to the Timbers, which dropped Salt Lake to 5-2-6 at home this season.
Seattle’s only win at Rio Tinto Stadium came in 2011 in a 2-1 victory that ended RSL’s home unbeaten streak at 29 matches – an MLS record that still stands.