While the Seattle Sounders are aiming to stay hot, Real Salt Lake is moving forward looking for new ownership.
The Sounders eye a fourth consecutive victory on Wednesday night when they visit Salt Lake.
Though Seattle has played well since the resumption of the league’s regular season, the storyline entering this contest is the decision by owner Dell Loy Hansen to sell Real Salt Lake – also the National Women’s Soccer League’s Utah Royals FC and the USL’s Real Monarchs. The decision comes after Hansen blasted RSL players, coaches and staff for boycotting last Wednesday’s home match to show awareness in the wake unrest and violence following the police shooting of black 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
Hansen caught plenty of heat for his comments and lack of understanding on the issue, and later apologized – somewhat. He then succumbed to calls to sell the three sides.
In a statement, MLS commissioner Don Garber said: “MLS will work with Mr. Hansen on supporting the sale efforts for the company and will work closely with the club’s executive staff to support the operations of the team during the transition period.”
RSL will take to its home pitch for the first this since all this came down, so it will be interesting to see what the reception will be, if any. The club is reportedly allowing a limited number of supporters to attend home matches. Salt Lake returned from the “MLS is Back Tournament” with a 4-1 victory at Colorado then played Portland to a wild 4-4 draw over the weekend.
Now, the challenge could be greater against Seattle (4-1-2), which has won three straight official games – not including the knockout round of the “MIBT.”
“It’s going to be a tough game with Seattle,” coach Freddy Juarez told Real Salt Lake’s official website.
“Right now, we’re scoring goals and the team spirit is good … (Seattle has) a lot of good attacking players. We have to treat it similar and not shoot ourselves in the foot to make it too tough on ourselves.”
Upon resumption of the regular season, the Sounders beat Portland and Los Angeles FC by a combined 6-1 scoreline. Raul Ruidiaz recorded a brace against Portland while Jordan Morris did the same versus LAFC last week. That pair has totaled 10 combined goals for Seattle.
“We’re a proud franchise, we are the defending champions,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer told the official website of MLS. “There are so many different reasons why this organization is not going to let our foot off the gas. We’re too smart for that, we have too many veteran players for that. We have a good locker room.”
Though Seattle and RSL split their two regular-season meetings in 2019, the Sounders prevailed 2-0 when they hooked up in the playoffs. Morris, though, has just one goal in seven matches versus RSL. Ruidiaz did not have a goal in two games against Salt Lake in 2019.
RSL’s Damir Kreilach (four goals in 2020) has a goal in three straight matches, including the “MIBT” knockout round. He has not scored in four career games versus Seattle.