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Pick: Seattle Sounders FC to win (+150)
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Real Salt Lake have struggled to find form this season and have lost three out of their last five games in the MLS. They conceded eight goals in two games when they suffered a couple of 4-0 defeats against St. Louis City SC and Columbus Crew. Provisional resurgence saw them beat Charlotte FC 3-1 before they fell to a narrow defeat against FC Dallas. Morale could be a little high ahead of the next game since Real Salt Lake beat San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 last week.
On the other hand, Seattle Sounders FC have gotten off to a great start and are eager to reclaim the top spot in the Western Division. They have lost only two of their nine games so far. One of those defeats came two weeks ago when Portland Timbers shocked the title contenders 4-1. However, the two-time MLS champions bounced back with a narrow 1-0 victory over Minnesota United last weekend.
History books showcase a balanced record between the two sides, but to predict the outcome of this game, the current form is what matters most. Keeping that in mind, Seattle Sounders FC are the team with the upper hand in this fixture.
The two sides have met 36 times in the MLS, and both have tried to pull clear of the other in the head-to-head record. Neither has succeeded. Real Salt Lake have won 16 encounters, while Seattle Sounders have won on 15 occasions. Only five games between these two clubs have ended in a draw.
The two sides have already met this season when they faced off against each other over a month ago. Seattle Sounders FC ended their four-game losing streak against Real Salt Lake with a comfortable 2-0 victory.
This time, the match will be played in Real Salt Lake’s backyard - a venue where Seattle Sounders FC have not won since 2012. Out of the 15 encounters played between these two sides at the America First Field, Seattle Sounders FC have only won two.
In their last 11 visits to the venue, the two-time MLS champions have lost ten games and drawn one. Seattle Sounders FC did manage a 5-2 away win at Real Salt Lake in 2016, but that victory came in the US Open Cup.
The odds are stacked against the hosts in this encounter. However, they are not heavily in favor of the visitors. This is because of the aforementioned unbeaten streak Real Salt Lake possess against Seattle Sounders FC at home.
Considering the performance of both clubs this season, Seattle Sounders FC emerge as clear favorites to end their dreaded 11-game winless streak at the America First Field. But the record may hand Real Salt Lake a psychological advantage that could affect their gameplay positively.
The hosts have not been extremely prolific in front of goal so far but are scoring an average of 1.3 goals per match. The intention inside the Real Salt Lake Camp could be to eke out a narrow win and collect crucial points whilst keeping the streak alive.
If Real Salt Lake are aiming for a narrow win, they will have to be astute in defense. Unfortunately for them, that has not been evident at all this season. The club has conceded 17 goals in eight games and scored just ten in the process.
In addition, Real Salt Lake have not kept a clean sheet in the last 13 games in the MLS. Their last shutout came towards the end of last season when they held DC United to a goalless draw. After that, there have been no clean sheets, and the club has fired blanks four times.
The top scorer for Real Salt Lake during the 2022 MLS season, Sergio Cordova, left the side before the beginning of this season. Cordova scored 11 goals in the last campaign. This season, out of the ten goals Real Salt Lake have scored, only one has come from a striker.
Four goals have come from wingers, three from midfielders, and two from defender Justen Glad. Striker duo Rubio Rubin and Anderson Julio have been quite ineffective up front. Rubin has still not opened his account, while Julio has scored just once.
Seattle Sounders FC were dealt a minor setback in their race for the top spot of the Western Conference two weeks ago when they faltered against Portland Timbers. They led the pack, but the defeat allowed St. Louis City SC to draw level on points.
St. Louis City SC are leading the pack now because of a slightly superior goal difference. Seattle Sounders can return to the summit if they can muster a win over Real Salt Lake by a handsome margin which can boost their goal count and goal difference.
Golden Boot contender Jordan Morris started from the bench last week because he had featured in an international friendly three days before the encounter with Minnesota United. The striker has eight goals in nine games and will likely return to the starting lineup for the next match.
While Morris leads the attackers, the defense will have to do what they have done in almost all games this season - be meticulous and not concede silly goals. Seattle Sounders have kept five clean sheets in nine games thanks to their solid defense.
However, the same defense allowed Portland Timbers to score four goals in a single game. Coach Brian Schmetzer will address the complacency creeping into the back line and how the visitors could avoid it.
After joining Seattle Sounders FC from New York City FC this season, Heber got off to a wonderful start as he scored two goals in the opening two games of the season. He missed the next three games because of an injury.
The Brazilian made substitute appearances against St. Louis City SC and Portland Timbers before making his first start post-injury last weekend. Heber still has just two goals to his name and the last one came in the reverse fixture against Real Salt Lake.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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