Three Key Match-ups: at Real Salt Lake

The Sounders return to Utah to take on Real Salt Lake in a match that should see Michael Gspurning see a lot of action in net.

Sounders FC @ Real Salt Lake
June 22, 2013, 6:30 pm PT; Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah
TV/Radio: KONG 6/16; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; KOMO2 (Spanish); La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)

Neither team looks to be at 100-percent, but whenever the Sounders FC meets Real Salt Lake, it’s a battle and on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium, it shouldn’t be any different.

Here are some matchups to watch for.

Javier Morales vs. Seattle’s central midfield

Sigi Schmid has plenty of options in his midfield, but one of them won’t be Osvaldo Alonso, as the Sounders coach ruled out the 2012 MLS Best XI defensive midfielder with a quad strain. Servando Carrasco has played well in his place, but Schmid also has Shalrie Joseph and Brad Evans available and has used Andy Rose in that role as well. No matter who he puts there, they will have their hands full with Morales. The RSL playmaker has three goals and five assists in 10 starts and is the catalyst to their offense from their diamond midfield.

Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson and Lamar Neagle vs. RSL centerbacks

Seattle has speed to burn at the forward spot – and Schmid again has options for who will start up top for the Sounders on Saturday. Johnson has shown to be in form with the US National Team and was the club’s leading scorer with four goals before missing the last two matches for international duty. In that time, both Martins and Neagle have caught Johnson in scoring and have shown to be a potent pairing. Meanwhile on the defensive side, Salt Lake has two centerbacks out with injuries in Chris Schuler and Kwame Watson-Siriboe. Nat Borchers has been a mainstay, but his partner on Saturday looks to be rookie Carlos Salcedo. The 32-year-old Borchers has 239 career MLS appearances while the 19-year-old Salcedo has just four. In Salcedo’s three starts, though, RSL is 2-0-1 with three goals allowed.

RSL forwards vs. Michael Gspurning

In his last two matches at Rio Tinto Stadium, Gspurning has had his two top performances in terms of saves. In a 1-0 win over RSL in the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals, Gspurning made nine saves to keep the game tight until Mario Martinez tallied the series-winner late in the match. Then in a 2-1 defeat on March 30, Salt Lake nabbed two first-half goals, but the Seattle goalkeeper finished with seven saves to keep the game close. Salt Lake, like Seattle, has many options at the forward spot. Alvaro Saborio is making his return from international duty with Costa Rica, joining a group of strikers that includes Robbie Findley (three goals, two assists), Olmes Garcia (four goals one assist), Joao Plata (one goal, four assists) and Devon Sandoval (one goal). Together, they help make RSL third in the league in scoring.

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