Three Key Match-Ups: at Real Salt Lake

Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake

MLS Regular Season
Saturday, August 17; 11:30 am PT; Rio Tinto Stadium
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Network; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; SiriusXM FC (Channel 94); ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish)

On Saturday, Sounders FC meets Real Salt Lake in their second clash of the season.  Here are three matchups to watch as the top two teams in MLS go head-to-head.

Osvaldo Alonso vs. Kyle Beckerman
Whenever Seattle and RSL square off, the two men in the middle take center stage.  Both play the position a bit differently, but with the same tenacity and vigor.  Sometimes that can lead to fireworks in the middle of the park, and other times they spend so much time focusing on the opposing attackers that they see very little of each other. In both cases, they are the heartbeat of the club, setting the tone for the rest of the team’s performance.

Clint Dempsey vs. Chris Schuler
Schuler is coming off a stellar week when he was named MLS Player of the Week after a 3-0 win over D.C. United.  He will have another tough task ahead in slowing Clint Dempsey.  The Sounders FC star will be without strike partner Obafemi Martins, as the Nigerian serves a red card suspension after picking up two yellow cards on Sunday in a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo.  That will put more of the offensive onus on Dempsey, but he has proven to be worthy of that challenge all season with nine goals and four assists in 13 matches.

Joao Plata vs. Chad Marshall
These two are both having perhaps their best seasons as professionals.  While Marshall has owned everything in the air for Seattle’s defense, Plata provides a much different problem in the attack.  The diminutive Ecuadorian is strong on the ball and can dart past his mark on a moment’s notice.  That combination has gotten him 10 goals and four assists this season, which is particularly impressive when considering he has done it without Alvaro Saborio over the last 13 matches.