Most RSL Fans will remember the first leg of last seasons Western Conference Semifinal against Seattle when RSL put on a clinic against the Cascadia side at the RioT. Alvaro Saborio scored a crafty cheeky back heel goal that I still find amazing! Ned Grabavoy had a great goal himself! It was an enjoyable match for all RSL fans in attendance and we hope that Thursday’s rematch is equally as entertaining.
Despite the 0-0 score line of the first leg in Seattle last week’s Western Conference Semifinal, the match was generally riveting. This Western Conference matchup of RSL and Seattle is widely considered by many as the most entertaining of the current MLS playoff matchups. With Real Salt Lake back at home on Thursday evening and with her commitment to their possession based attacking brand of soccer, it is likely that this decisive second leg will be even more entertaining. We are sure to see plenty of drama and typical rough play from the visitors if the match is not going in their favor.
The match kickoff time has been moved from 730 p.m. to 8 p.m. to accommodate being nationally televised live on NBC Sports, however, RSL head coach Jason Kreis has stated he would like to see the fans in the stadium by 730 p.m.
The Seattle Sounders are now scoreless against RSL in four matches across this entire MLS season. It would be nothing less than miraculous if Real Salt Lake were able to hold the Sounders to a 5th straight scoreless match.
However ReAL has some scoring issues of their own, having not scored in their past 4 matches. On a positive note they have also not conceded a goal in those same four matches.
ReAL must find a way to finish their chances and get on the scoreboard if they want to avoid the tiresome 30 minutes overtime and penalty kick shootout to decide the winner of the semifinal playoff bout. A win of any kind will see RSL advance to the Western Conference Final.
It would appear that Seattle’s star striker Eddie Johnson will be back in the lineup on Thursday evening. His speed and goal scoring ability is sure to be a challenge for Real Salt Lake, one that I think they can weather. There is no doubt that Seattle will not come to play for a draw, as they will only advance with a win. They are sure to press hard and often, something few teams do at the RioT. This should contribute to the entertainment factor of the match.
There may however be some injury concerns and considerations for the Claret-and-Cobalt for this match. RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando emerged from his world-class performance in the first leg of this playoff rivalry with a gash on his right temple and a broken nose. Rimando is likely to start Thursdays match but could possibly be somewhat impaired by the injury, or he may surprise us all and have another amazing match.
Defenders Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Jamison Olave, Chris Schuler and Nat Borchers are all currently listed as probable for Thursday’s match. Forward Fabian Espindola is also listed as probable.
With this information it is possible that RSL will start their preferred first team. I predict a starting 11 of: GK Nick Rimando, DF Tony Beltran, DF Jamison Olave, DF Nat Borchers, DF Chris Wingert, MF Kyle Beckerman, MF Ned Grabavoy, MF Will Johnson, MF Javier Morales, FW Alvaro Saborio and FW Fabian Espindola.
I predict a 2 – 1 win for RSL, advancing to the Western Conference Final.
If you did not make the trip to the RioT for the match tune into NBC Sports at 8:00 p.m. to support our RSL boys! Lets go ReAL!
Be early, be loud, be proud, believe!
To stay up to date with the inside scoop on RSL action follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook and hang with us on Google+ with the icons to the far left.
Share your opinions and comments on the match below.