After a loss that could be described as both frustrating and disappointing, the Seattle Sounders look to bounce back with as tough a task as there is in MLS; traveling to Rio Tinto to face Real Salt Lake. Real Salt Lake have a 29 game unbeaten streak in MLS play at their home stadium and despite looking slightly more vulnerable since the loss of midfielder Javier Morales they're still one of the best teams in the league before their home field advantage is taken into account.
The Sounders looked dangerous at times against FC Dallas but their ability to capitalize on solid opportunities once again proved to be a major problem. Seattle has been relatively solid all season where chance creation is concerned but while teams that put a lot of shots on goal tend to see their luck even out, it's become apparent that finishing is a serious issue for this team. The attack has functioned most effectively with a ball winning, space creating target forward in the mix but that necessitates that Mike Fucito-arguably the best finisher on the team-is relegated to the substitute's bench in favor of Fredy Montero's ability to create. Sigi Schmid has been toying with possible solutions since O'Brian White's injury with mixed (but mostly poor) results. It wouldn't come as a surprise to see yet another look on Saturday, perhaps Fuctio being given a run out with Montero getting an afternoon off. In any case, if the Sounders hope to keep Salt Lake's unbeaten streak from reaching 30 games they'll need to find some help from somewhere because as it stands, the forwards are not producing as they need to be for Seattle to be considered amongst the league's elite.
Much like FC Dallas after the loss of David Ferreira, Real Salt Lake have been forced to adapt their style in the wake of losing Morales and though they're still very fluid and do all that they can to dominate possession their game plan is typically geared more towards preventing goals than scoring them. That's not to say that they're negative, but they like to pick their spots and those spots are less frequent with Morales out of the lineup. Much of their home field advantage can be attributed to the altitude of Rio Tinto and RSL are built to exploit their edge, using their heightened fitness levels to run teams into exhaustion. If that sounds like something that Sounders fans should be concerned about there's good reason; three games in eight days coupled with serious fitness concerns most everywhere on the pitch is not an especially solid recipe for success at Rio Tinto.
Had Seattle managed to take three points against Dallas they'd likely be more than content to play for the 0-0 draw in this game, but a loss changes the picture completely. The Sounders need a point from this game and could really do with all three, and with that being the case they're likely to play a style that teams do not tend to play against RSL away. It's not an especially pleasant situation for Sigi Schmid's men, but that's the reality of things when you fail to pick up points at home. Given the variety of looks we've seen from the Sounders over the past few weeks it would be a fool's errand to try to venture a guess at what sort of lineup they'll put on the field, but at this point anything short of a three defender system shouldn't be considered out of the question. The Sounders haven't been dealt the greatest of hands this season but it's the one they've been dealt and when things aren't working, there's no choice but to try to change things up. Unfortunately for Seattle, Real Salt Lake is not exactly the ideal team on which to experiment.
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