Match Preview

SEAvRSL 101: Everything you need to know for our Round One match in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, pres. by Ticketmaster

SEAvRSL 101 playoffs preview cover Rowe

The Seattle Sounders are hosting Real Salt Lake on Tuesday in Round One of the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs. Here is everything you need to know:

WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. PT at Lumen Field (TICKETS).

WHERE TO WATCH: The match will be televised on FS1 and FOX Deportes.

WHERE TO LISTEN: The match will air on 1090 KJR AM and El Rey 1360AM.

2021 RECORDS AND STANDINGS: Seattle: 17-8-9 (60 points, 2nd West), RSL: 14-14-6 (48 points, 7th West)

PREVIOUS MEETINGS: The Sounders defeated Salt Lake 2-1 in Seattle on June 23 before falling 1-0 in Utah on Sept. 18.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Seattle finished second in the West, coming up a point shy of the Colorado Rapids. The Sounders drew the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1 on the road on Decision Day. Real Salt Lake snuck into the playoffs on nearly the final play of the regular season when Damir Kreilach scored a 95th-minute winner against Sporting Kansas City to help RSL finish ahead of the LA Galaxy on the total wins tiebreaker.

HEALTH STATUSES: Perhaps the biggest storyline coming into the postseason will be the health of the Sounders’ star players. Raúl Ruidíaz (left hamstring strain), João Paulo (right hamstring strain) and Nicolás Lodeiro (right knee inflammation) all missed Decision Day. Jordan Morris, despite making his return, is also not 90-minute fit, and Nouhou and Xavier Arreaga each returned from international duty with ailments. Hopefully Head Coach Brian Schmetzer will have his full complement of options at his disposal.

HOME PLAYOFF WIN STREAK: The Sounders are riding an incredible 15-match home winning streak in the postseason, including 12 straight under Schmetzer. Lumen Field has been a fortress for Seattle once the weather turns, and the club is looking to make it 16 straight on Tuesday.

JUAREZ VS. OLD TEAM: After leaving his head coaching position at RSL mid-year to join the Sounders coaching staff as an assistant, Freddy Juarez will face his former team for the second time this year. RSL got the better of their former boss back in September, and he and the Sounders will be looking for revenge in Seattle.

KING KREILACH: RSL attacker Kreilach is one of the most continually underrated players in MLS. He tied for fifth in the league with 16 goals this season, including the match-winner when these two teams last met. The 32-year-old Croatian also added nine assists and poses a huge threat for defenses wherever he lines up in the attacking third.

SCHMETZER VS. MASTROENI PART II: Schmetzer and RSL interim manager Pablo Mastroeni will face off in the postseason for the second time, with their first coming in 2016. Schmetzer and the Sounders defeated Mastroeni’s Colorado Rapids at home in the first of two legs of the Western Conference Championship before going to Commerce City and winning again to earn their first trip to MLS Cup.

GOALS GALORE: Real Salt Lake scored the third-most goals in the Western Conference this season with 55, but they also allowed the third-most with 54. RSL have played considerably more open matches under Mastroeni since he took over, which could set up for a wild first-round match on Tuesday night.



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