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RSL hopes to rain on Seattle’s parade

Posted on 26 March 2009 by kali

Real Salt Lake travels to Seattle on Saturday to officially kick off its 2009 MLS season and, its fans hope, send the Sounders back to earth. After Seattle’s season-opening victory over the New York Red Bulls on national TV last week, Sigi Schmid’s team has been the toast of the league.

Colombian striker Fredy Montero scored two goals and assisted on another, propelling the Sounders past a New York team that played in MLS Cup just last season.

The raucous Seattle atmosphere won’t be the only challenge facing Jason Kreis’ team on Saturday, however.  Defender Ian Joy and striker Luis Miguel Escalada both sustained injuries in RSL’s final preseason match against the Austin Aztex last weekend and will not be available.  Joy is expected to miss at least a month with a hamstring strain, while Escalada’s ankle injury is believed to be less serious.  Robbie Russell, who underwent shoulder surgery during the offseason, has been cleared by the doctor but is unlikely to see much action on Saturday.

With Joy out, Kreis may opt to move Chris Wingert to Joy’s usual left-sided position and bring Tony Beltran in to play on the right.  The rest of the starting lineup should be familiar to RSL fans, as Nick Rimando, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Wingert, Will Johnson, Clint Mathis, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Robbie Findley, and Yura Movsisyan all started last week against Austin.

Meanwhile, the Sounders should get an injury boost, as designated player Freddie Ljungberg is likely to make his first appearance for the club after missing last week’s opener as he recovered from a hip injury.  Seattle midfielder Peter Vagenas and defender Taylor Graham, however, will be missing the match due to long-term injuries.

RSL returns most of the players that appeared in last year’s Western Conference finals, however, and Kreis believes that his team’s resoluteness will be a huge advantage this season.  He told The Salt Lake Tribune recently, “The difference really, for me, is confidence.  And confidence in the psychology of professional sports is gigantic. Huge. So I think we have a lot of that already in our pocket, and we also have the team understanding.”

The match kicks off at 7:30 local time (8:30 MT) at Qwest Field and can be seen in Utah on KUTV Channel 2.

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