The Seattle Sounders play venerable Western Conference foe RSL tomorrow and both teams are hungry.
RSL, like Seattle, had every reason to be a disappointed with their showing last week. Holding a strong 2-nil lead going into stoppage time, RSL coughed up two goals (last year’s ROY Cyle Larin had a foot in both) in 60 seconds and left Orlando with the draw.
(A quick aside: you figure both Seattle and Salt Lake should’ve had a fitness edge over their opponents due the CCL matches. You figure two game against legit Liga MX opponents should get your starting 11 gelling. Instead both SKC and OCSC pounced on sloppy discipline and flagging fitness, respectively. Maybe there was a bit of a CCL hangover, as only L.A., of all CCL teams, won their game last weekend. And oddly enough it was over DC United, the other CCL contestant. Curious, no?)
This is not yesterday’s RSL. I’ve gotten to see a bit of the new RSL and they are a fun team to watch. Jason Kreis’s diamond was abandoned last year for a 4-3-3 hybrid. Jeff Cassar’s boy’s don’t play a simple 4-3-3, as sometimes the formation morphs into a 4-3-2-1 or even a 4-2-1-3. The midfield, like SKC, is stacked.
The old guard on the Wasatch Front, Rimando, Morales, Beltran and Beckerman, are joined by reinforcements: Burrito Martinez, Luke Mulholland and of course, Joao Plata. Martinez is slick as grease, Mulholland is pesky and Plata is one of the league’s best finishers (and dancers). But it is Yura Movsisyan, the once and future Lion, who probably scares me the most. Movsisyan is a proven goal scorer, a cold-blooded striker who provides the razor edge to the creative midfield.
Bold Prediction: Last season was a serious slump for RSL, as they failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Maybe that is indicative of the loss of Kries and Seattle’s President of Soccer, Garth Lagerwey. But I don’t think RSL will continue to fade. The West is stacked, but RSL, with all the additions and innovations mentioned above, will be in the thick of things.
I’d like to predict we win, in a gritty, vindictive style. But it is hard to win at the Riot. RSL have won the last 4 matchups in Utah (going back to May 2011). Seattle really wants a result, so I don’t think a resurgent RSL will stand in the way. I see a classic Seattle-RSL standoff, 1-1.