Sounders-Real Salt Lake Preview

BY foxsports • August 21, 2015

The Seattle Sounders have Obafemi Martins back, Clint Dempsey is close to returning and they finally put the longest losing streak in club history to rest.

They're hoping this is the beginning of a climb back up the Western Conference standings.

Seattle seeks a second straight league victory for the first time in nearly three months Saturday night when it visits Real Salt Lake.

The Sounders (11-12-2) snapped a five-game losing streak in MLS play with Sunday's 4-0 win over Orlando City SC. It was a much-needed confidence boost for a Seattle side that tallied three goals during a 1-8-0 stretch, falling from atop the conference to the sixth and final playoff spot.

That slump coincided with the absence of Martins, who had been sidelined since June 16 with a groin injury. He returned Sunday to score twice and nearly found the back of the net again on a penalty kick before exiting in the 66th minute.

"He's a valuable player to the team, and he brings special qualities," coach Sigi Schmid said. "But like I said, the most important thing he brings is he gives everyone else on the field confidence. As their confidence grows, all of a sudden, guys who have been struggling played beyond themselves a little bit. It makes all the difference in the world."

Seeing Dempsey back on the field would provide another boost, and there's a chance it could happen Saturday. He hasn't played since Aug. 1 due to a hamstring injury.

Dempsey's seven goals rank second the team to Martins' nine.

While Chad Barrett (hamstring) is likely to miss a second straight match, Nelson Valdez could help pick up the slack. Valdez, signed Aug. 7, impressed in his club debut Sunday by heading in a goal in the 51st minute.

A shutout was equally important after the Sounders had surrendered three goals in each of their past two league matches.

Seattle also won 2-1 over C.D. Olimpia on Wednesday in CONCACAF Champions League group play despite Martins and Dempsey sitting out. The Sounders haven't won back-to-back games in MLS play since May 27-31, however, and they've dropped seven of eight on the road with two goals in the last six.

They've won three of the last four meetings with Real Salt Lake but are 1-4-2 on the road in the series, only winning May 28, 2011.

RSL (7-10-8) had been unbeaten in nine straight at home before last Saturday's 1-0 loss to Portland, falling six points back of Seattle. The lone goal came five minutes into stoppage time.

"In both boxes we just need to be a little bit sharper," coach Jeff Cassar said. "All these games now are massive. We just have to try to concentrate on trying to play good soccer and getting the results through our performances."

Salt Lake, which has been shut out in two straight, is in danger of its first four-match slide in league play since Sept. 24-Oct. 6, 2011. The club record is a 10-game losing streak in 2005.

Martins has scored in each of his last three meetings with RSL.

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