Real Salt Lake-Sounders Preview

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.