|Scoreboard|||||Match Schedule|||||Standings|||||Teams|||||Player Leaders|
Real Salt Lake-Sounders Preview
By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- Real Salt Lake prevented the Seattle Sounders from advancing to the Western Conference finals for the first time in their last meeting.
When these teams face each other again Saturday night, conference-leading RSL can stop the Sounders from earning a franchise-record sixth consecutive victory and first place in the West.
Despite heading into the 2011 postseason on an 0-4-2 skid, RSL recorded a 3-2 aggregate victory over the Sounders in the conference semifinals. Seattle, a 2-0 winner at home in the second leg Nov. 2, has lost in that round in each of the last three seasons.
The Sounders, though, have rebounded in 2012 with their best-ever start at 7-1-1.
Getting two goals from second-half substitute Fredy Montero, Seattle matched a team mark with its fifth consecutive win Wednesday, 2-0 over host Dallas.
Montero, the club's all-time leader with 37 goals, has three along with an assist in the last three matches after going scoreless in the first six of 2012.
"I tried to score before, but you never can understand soccer," Montero told MLS' official website. "Now, I'm scoring goals. I want to keep doing this."
Montero found the back of the net once and added two assists as Seattle and RSL split four matches last season.
While the Sounders would certainly like Montero to keep producing, they might be able to continue their success even if he doesn't maintain that level of production. Seattle has recorded three consecutive clean sheets and given up a league-low three goals.
Rookie goalkeeper Brian Meredith will likely make a third consecutive start Saturday with Michael Gspurning out with a right hip injury.
"It's a great run we're on right now and it's good to keep going and keep winning," defender Jeff Parke told the Sounders' official website Wednesday after starting for the injured Patrick Ianni. "No matter what team we play and what lineup we have out there, we're doing well right now."
So is Real Salt Lake (7-3-2), which moved one point ahead of Seattle and San Jose for first place with a scoreless draw at Chicago on Wednesday.
While RSL is undefeated in its last four matches, it's 0-2-2 in its last four on the road, managing two goals in that span. The club will be facing a Seattle team that has recorded three consecutive home shutouts.
RSL should have forward Fabian Espindola available Saturday after he missed Wednesday's match following the birth of his son. Midfielder Will Johnson is eligible to return following a red-card suspension, but it's uncertain if midfielder Javier Morales will be ready after leaving the Fire match with a right quadriceps strain.
If Nick Rimando misses a second consecutive match with a right shoulder injury, Kyle Reynish will be in net.
"Last I heard, Nick's supposed to be back in time for Seattle, but if his shoulder is still hurting. ... I've actually have another start up in Seattle (a scoreless draw Sept. 9, 2010) so at least I am somewhat comfortable with being in front of 38,000 fans," Reynish told RSL's official website.
The Sounders won't have Zach Scott available, as the defender has been suspended for one game and fined after a hard tackle on Dallas midfielder Fabian Castillo.
Updated May 11, 2012