Real Salt Lake to face rival Seattle Sounders in battle for league’s top spot

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Real Salt Lake (14–8–6, 48 points) looks to continue its hot scoring streak and remain atop the MLS Western Conference standings in Friday’s upcoming match against the rival Seattle Sounders FC (14–8–4, 46 points).

Real’s league-leading offense has netted 52 goals this season, including four-goal performances in its previous two games, and will be squaring off against a Seattle defense that allowed only one goal in the last four matches, during which the Sounders are undefeated.

Watch RSL take on Seattle Sounders FC Friday at 8:00 p.m. MT on the NBC Sports Network.
Real Salt Lake takes on the Seattle Sounders FC Friday at 8 p.m. MT on the NBC Sports Network. (Image courtesy Real Salt Lake)

 

It’s a showdown between two MLS powers that have been winning in very different ways.

“I think it’s overall commitment from all of our players, to be really in the attacking mindset, to take some risks, and to be aggressive in the way that we approach the match,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said in a press conference after his team’s latest win.

Saturday’s meeting marks the third clash between the two teams this season. Real won both earlier matches 2–0 and 2–1 respectively. Seattle seeks revenge in what could be another MLS Cup Playoffs preview. Recent post-season history between these clubs has fueled a rivalry in which every regular season game offers a playoff feel. RSL eliminated Seattle in the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals, while Seattle sent RSL home early with a win in last year’s Western Semis.

Both sides happily welcome the return of two star players from the U.S. Men’s National Team, which earned a spot in the 2014 World Cup with a 2–0 victory against Mexico on Tuesday. Back for RSL are goalkeeper Nick Rimando and midfielder Kyle Beckerman, with midfielder Clint Dempsey and forward Eddie Johnson lacing up again for the Sounders.

Seattle signed Dempsey to a four-year deal in August worth over $30 million. The Texas native and U.S. men’s team captain spent the last six years in the Barclays Premier League and scored 57 goals overseas. His acquisition has been critical to propelling the Sounders’ to near the top of the standings and further fueling their rivalry with RSL.

With a victory Friday, Seattle would take over sole position of first place in the MLS as the postseason quickly approaches at the end of October. Three points for Real would increase the gap between them and the rest of the league and send a message that they are the team to beat in the Western Conference.

Friday’s match at CenturyLink Field in Seattle will be nationally televised on the NBC Sports Network. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. MDT.

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