By TYLER GRAY
SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake are coming off of their first bye week of the season after a stretch of six games in 25 days, and as defender Chris Wingert describes, they’re ready to get back out on the field when they face the visiting Seattle Sounders this Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“We’ve had a ton of games in a short amount of time and we got a few days off which was really nice,” Wingert said. “But at the same time we’ve got to make sure that we’re not getting complacent coming off a bye week. We know it’s going to be an extremely tough challenge. Seattle has been playing well.”
Both RSL and the Sounders are in top form heading into Saturday’s match. RSL are 7-1-1 across all competitions since the start of May, and the Sounders are 5-1-2 in that same span. RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy spoke about the intensity and mutual respect between the two clubs.
“Obviously I think cause it’s the history of playing in the playoffs and some bigger games,” Grabavoy said. “We kind of had that with them and the Galaxy the last few seasons. Both teams are familiar with each other and the styles and what each team is trying to do. Without question I think there’s respect on both sides which usually makes for a pretty good matchup.”
Here are some more notes from this week’s RSL training:
LUCK CONTINUES IN OPEN CUP DRAWS
RSL will host the Carolina RailHawks on June 26th in the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. It will be the third straight lower division side that the Claret and Cobalt have faced having already beaten the Charleston Battery and the Atlanta Silverbacks.
It was also learned earlier today that Real Salt Lake have won their fourth consecutive coin flip (a 6.25 percent chance) and if they get past the RailHawks, they will host either the Portland Timbers or FC Dallas.
If RSL are able to take down the RailHawks, which is no guarantee considering the past two overtime games, they will have advanced the farthest in club history.
SCHEDULE EVENS OUT FOR RSL
RSL started out the year with a decidedly road-heavy schedule, but heading into their matchup against Seattle, they are perfectly even with eight matches away and eight at home.
Tied for second place with Portland Timbers in the Western Conference, RSL now have 27 points through 16 games and are much better than many expected them to be after their high roster turnover.
“When we were on the tail-end of that road trip I think we started to gain some confidence,” Grabavoy said. “Especially a lot of our younger players and new players. Players became more comfortable within the group. So I think that’s been a real positive going forward. But in saying that, things change throughout a season. There are injuries and callups. Your depth is tested.”
Those injuries and international call-ups have been unkind to the Utah club, but the team has continued to churn out results. Perhaps the most surprising development has been the recent offensive explosion even without star forward Alvaro Saborio.
RSL have scored three or more goals in four consecutive matches and in five of its last six. Rookie forward Devon Sandoval said that he is glad to be a part of the recent offensive surge.
“It’s a lot of fun to play because I feel like everybody’s clicking,” Sandoval said. “The midfielders are clicking with us and our movement off the ball and on the ball is really good. We’re getting opportunities which we were getting earlier but now we’re putting them away. We’ve got to do whatever it takes to keep it going.”
What do you make of these notes? How do you like RSL’s chances ahead of the Sounders match? Do you see Sandoval continuing his recent scoring form?
Share your thoughts below.