Clint Dempsey vs. RSL May 2017-09-18
USA Today Sports

Seattle Sounders focused on improving attacking prowess in final third ahead of match at Real Salt Lake

TUKWILA, Wash. — Following a scoreless draw at FC Dallas last weekend, Seattle Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer was succinct after training on Monday about what his side needs to do down the stretch run of the season.

“We’re trying to figure out ways to score some goals,” Schmetzer said. “My overall take on Dallas, and it was a tough game, my one-word adjective was ‘almost.’ We were almost there. We had a couple of half-chances that were almost clean on goal.”

The Sounders are currently riding a club-record 13-match unbeaten streak, but have not scored more than one goal in any of their last four matches, all of which were draws. Schmetzer purposefully opted for a more defensive lineup in Frisco, Texas, last weekend in preparation for a team that has been terrific at Toyota Stadium over the past few seasons. He started Joevin Jones over Victor Rodriguez on the left wing to keep Dallas wingers at bay and “take some of the sting out of the game.”

The result was Seattle’s fifth shutout in its last nine matches, but Schmetzer said the onus now is on balancing the attack.

“We’re missing that final piece,” Schmetzer said. “There are patterns we can do to make sure guys are in the right spots, but they have to also be tested in training under live conditions. Sometimes when you do patterns with no opposition, you give them ideas, but you have to cement those ideas with some live training. We’ll do a combination of both.”

The Sounders head to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday (6:30 p.m. PT; JOEtv, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360 AM) for a crucial match against a suddenly surging Real Salt Lake. Seattle took down RSL 1-0 at CenturyLink Field back in May, but RSL is 6-2-3 in its last 11 matches and have miraculously limped into playoff position after dwelling near the Western Conference’s bottom for the majority of the season.

Schmetzer knows RSL Head Coach Mike Petke’s team is hungry for points and will enter with some bravado following last week’s home win over the Portland Timbers, but Schmetzer is confident his team will find a spark.

“They’ll be on a high,” Schmetzer said of RSL, “but we’ll do more on the attacking side of things in training and try and balance it out by still playing good defense.”