Real Salt Lake is in town. A long with their arrival they’re sure to bring the energy and vigor to tonight’s match that has them arguably in the top-3 teams in MLS at this point and sitting second in the Western Conference behind San Jose. While it’s hardly clear who will make the starting XI due to all the international play and injuries. It’s obvious that both teams will have to rely on their depth, though it’s much more apparent with RSL than the Sounders.
Sammy Ochoa and David Estrada have been battling the last week for who will replace Eddie Johnson in the Sounders line-up, but it’s foreseeable that the “loser”–or whoever comes out second– will also have a reserve role. In my mind it’s logical that Sammy Ochoa would start with the possibility of Estrada coming off the bench and then getting the nod against FC Dallas this weekend giving way to Eddie Johnson coming off the bench if needed. This is where having all the depth at forward comes in handy. However, the Sounders are then in a reverse predicament where they have Leo Gonzalez, Adam Johansson and John Kennedy Hurtado that will all be potentially unavailable. This will certainly thrust Zach Scott and Marc Burch from the bench into the starting line-up but possible bench options are a little clouded from my perspective.
RSL is in a far more precarious position as they look to potentially replace 4 of their starters. Coach Jason Kreis will have to examine his stable quite closely to pull out a little magic to even maintain a draw at this point. They still have a very solid back line and trying to press through the ever intimidating Jamison Olave is a serious task that, despite being nearly full strength on the attack, could disrupt how the Sounders have enjoyed dominating the air in opposing boxes. They will still have the first-rate centre forward in Javier Rosales and it’s not crazy to think that with his help (and that of Luis Gil) they couldn’t engineer a goal to come out with a draw.
Make no mistake this is going to be a battle and with the passing prowess of Salt Lake it could be a rather dull affair. But none the less it looks like the Sounders are going to have the better side going into this and that’s never a bad thing.
- The thought of Sammy Ochoa out there without Martinez, kind of makes me sad in a weird way that it probably shouldn’t. It’s not as if they’re married or inseparable in some fashion. Maybe I like to think of them skipping down pier 42 holding hands and eating ice cream. Maybe, I’m just a little creepy.
- The Sounders back line looks a little rough right now. While I’m not the biggest Leo fan and I’d be interested in seeing more of Marc Burch, I’d like to think that having both is better than not having both.
- Coming into this game last week I was pretty hard pressed to convince myself that this game would come out any different than a draw. After envisioning the patchwork that is inevitably going to fill Jason Kries line-up card… yeah, I have a much easier time envisioning a win at home tonight.
- Going into the game there was a bit of talk that this game would show case potentially two of the better offensive facilitators in MLS. While there is no argument that either Mauro Rosales or Rosales aren’t great leaders and key piano players. But if you look over the last couple of games that Rosales has seen pitch
Guesstimated Starting XI
Prediction: A Win and 3 Points, Sounders FC-2 (Zakuani ’23, S. Ochoa ’59) , Real Salt Lake-1 (Gil ’41)