Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake
MLS Regular Season
Saturday, May 31; 1 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: Q-13 FOX (locally); ROOT Sports (regionally); KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish)
Sounders FC hosts Real Salt Lake on Saturday at CenturyLink Field in a clash of the top two teams in the MLS standings.
Here are three matchups to watch for in what is surely to be a hotly contested affair.
Javier Morales vs. Osvaldo Alonso
These two have found themselves going toe-to-toe with regularity in the 17 all-time matches across all competitions between the two rival clubs. Morales has four goals and five assists in 11 matches this season, giving him 32 goals and 58 assists in 166 career matches in MLS since joining RSL in 2007. In the absence of Kyle Beckerman, Alvaro Saborio and possibly Joao Plata, Morales will become even more vital to Salt Lake's attack and thus if Alonso can shut him down, it will be that much more impactful for Seattle.
Luke Mulholland vs. Leo Gonzalez
Mulholland was among the top players in the NASL over the last two seasons, earning Best XI honors with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2012 and 2013. There, he was also part of the team that handed Sounders FC its first U.S. Open Cup loss when Tampa Bay ousted Seattle 1-0 in the fourth round last year. The English midfielder has three goals and two assists for RSL this season after posting 17 goals and 13 assists in two seasons with Tampa Bay. On the other side, Gonzalez is apt to slow the production of wide midfielders, but may have to play a bit further inside than he is accustomed due to RSL's diamond midfield.
Sigi Schmid vs. Jeff Cassar
Both coaches will be put to the test on Saturday with both clubs playing with depleted rosters due to injury and international duty. Schmid has Sounders FC atop the MLS standings at 8-3-2, including a 6-1-1 record in the last eight matches. In his first year as Head Coach at RSL, Cassar has gone unbeaten at 6-0-6, second only to Sounders FC in the standings and one match away from breaking the MLS record for the longest unbeaten streak to start a season. How both coaches structure their lineups and tactics will go a long way in determining if Seattle can maintain its four-game home winning streak or if Salt Lake can remain without a loss in the 2014 season.