They say a two-goal lead is the most dangerous in soccer; but they don’t usually say it in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Yet, Real Salt Lake suffered a hard reminder of the cliché last weekend, giving up goals in the 94th and 95 minutes for a jaw-dropping and potentially heartbreaking season-opening draw at Orlando City.
Salt Lake took a 2-0 lead on goals by Joao Plata in the 26th and 66th minutes, nursed it to the end of regulation and three minutes beyond before giving up a pair of goals within a matter of seconds.
“It’s something that maybe sits in you,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “But usually when it’s a one off it doesn’t bother you. If it happens again and again, then you start to worry about it.”
That odd opener wasn’t an ideal game for scouting purposes because Salt Lake played some of it shorthanded before both sides were reduced to 10 men. And RSL had played a CONCACAF Champions League game at midweek, which might have contributed to the late collapse.
But there aren’t many mysteries with this longtime Western Conference rival.
“They’re always tough at home because they’re a good team,” Schmid said. “They’ve still got that nucleus of (Jamison) Olace and (Javier) Morales and (Kyle) Beckerman and (Nick) Rimando in goal. So there’s still that spine that they’ve been able to keep over all these years. … (Juan Manuel) Martinez and (Yura) Movsisyan and Plata are a good combination up front. There is a lot of speed there and danger, and Martinez’s strength is dribbling with the ball. We’ll be ready for that.”
Seattle had its own troubles last weekend, suffering an opening-day loss for the third time in eight Major League Soccer openers. Now they’re trying to avoid what would be their second 0-2 start.
“It’s the beginning of the season, so you want to get points, get off that zero as early as possible,” Schmid said. “I thought we had a good week of training. I think the team is ready. We’ll get after it.”
The Sounders have had personnel additions and subtractions since their 1-0 home loss to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
Right back Tyrone Mears (quadriceps strain) and midfielder Erik Friberg (concussion protocol) are expected back in the starting lineup after missing the opener.
However, defender Oniel Fisher received a red card late in the first half and must sit out this game. Centerback and captain Brad Evans suffered a shoulder injury late in the match and has been ruled out. Veteran Zach Scott is expected to take his place.
“(Scott is) a great defensive player,” Friberg said. “He’s going to be fine. Of course we miss Brad: He’s our captain. But Zach is going to be great.”
A question about the Sounders’ goalkeeping arose Friday, when starter Stefan Frei watched training from the side.
“He’s got a little bit of soreness, so we just wanted to hold him out,” Schmid said. “He’ll travel with us.”
Schmid limiting his assurance to Frei traveling, but not to his playing, might not be significant. If Frei can’t go, then second-year keeper Tyler Miller is likely to get his first MLS start, which would come on his 23rd birthday.
REAL SALT LAKE (0-0-1; 1 POINT) VS. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (0-1-0; 0 POINTS)
1 p.m. Saturday, Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah
TV: JOEtv. Radio: 97.3-FM.
Head to head: RSL leads 7-6-4 overall and 5-1-2 at home. The teams split last season, each taking two-goal wins at home. RSL visits Seattle on Aug. 14 and Oct. 23.
Notes: The Sounders have opened the season with back-to-back losses only once: 2011. … Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei was held out of training Friday with arm soreness. He traveled with the team, but his status is questionable. If he doesn’t go, second-year keeper Tyler Miller is expected to get his first MLS start — on his 23rd birthday. Right back Tyrone Mears (quadriceps) and midfielder Erik Friberg (concussion protocol) are expected to be available after missing the opener. Centerback Brad Evans is out with a shoulder injury, and defender Oniel Fisher is out after receiving a red card in the opener. RSL defender Demar Phillips also is out after receiving a red card last weekend at Orlando. … Joao Plata has both of RSL’s goals this season. Seattle hasn’t yet scored. … This is RSL’s home opener and the Sounders’ first road game. … The referee is Juan Guzman.
Quote: “They play very well at home, always. So we have to be prepared, and I think we are prepared for this tough game. I can’t wait to play this game. I can’t wait for us to go out again and show a good performance.” — Seattle midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz on RSL
Next: Sounders vs. Montreal Impact, 7 p.m. March 19, CenturyLink Field.