Real Salt Lake v Seattle Sounders, Thursday, August 15, 0300
With LAFC running away with the MLS Western Conference, the remaining six play-off spots are up for grabs and two likely contenders will be fighting for advantage in Salt Lake City.
An Even Western Rivalry
Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders are two of the older franchises in MLS and there is a long history to this fixture, which has been played thirty times so far. Neither side has dominated, with Real winning 12 and Seattle claiming 13 victories. Real won both of last season’s games, but Seattle had the upper hand in their first meeting this season, winning 1-0 at home in April. Their most significant encounters have come in the MLS Cup Play-Offs, but these have also been shared, as Real prevailed in the 2011 Conference semi-final and Seattle returned the favour the following season.
Seattle go into this game as the second-best team in the West, but their position is precarious and even a play-off place is not guaranteed. They are only one point ahead of chasing teams Minnesota and San Jose, and just five points clear of Portland in eighth, having played a game more. They are also struggling for form. They’ve only won one of their last four, and have suffered significant defeats to local rivals Portland and Sporting Kansas City.
Real reached the Conference semi-finals last season and after an inconsistent first half of the season are starting to show play-off form, putting together a five-game unbeaten run that has taken them up to sixth in the West. They have been particularly strong at home, where they’ve won six and drawn one of their last seven. In fact, they haven’t lost at Rio Tinto stadium since the beginning of May and have only suffered two defeats at the venue all season.
The Real stadium in Sandy, Utah, is a tough venue for visiting teams, both because of the unique atmosphere that its layout generates and the fact that it is the second highest in MLS. Given Real’s strong home form, there will be plenty of punters who will be keen to take the 10/11 on offer about a home win, while Seattle may look less tempting at 3/1.