Let’s make sure this is absolutely clear. The importance of tonight’s match in Seattle cannot be understated. Not only is it a battle over who will ultimately be leading the league for the Supporter’s Shield and a Western Conference first place matchup — these teams are arguably the best in the league right now.
Now. Both will be facing injuries of key players, and it’s possible that EJ and Clint Dempsey will be out of the starting 11. If the Sounders fail to topple the kings, that’s surely one of the things they will point to as to why. And I will say this right now — no matter what the outcome, Sigi Schmid will complain about the officiating, the only question is how much will he complain about the officiating.
Historically, these teams have been close. But both teams have been scoring a lot lately. So the outcome is really up in the air. It could just as easily be a 0 – 0 draw as a 3 – 0 shutout with either side the victor. Seattle has a great crowd, a great goalkeeper, and some great scorers. So does RSL (except that crowd will still be, presumably, in Utah).
I’ve already said that I am at least hoping for a win in Seattle. This is key, because it doesn’t really matter, right now, today, who wins — there’s enough of the season left that RSL’s playoff spot is more or less secure, at the very least — what matters is that RSL can win. In Seattle. Against Dempsey and Eddie Johnson and Mauro Rosales and Neagle and Obafemi Martins. Because if they can’t, with all of those players, they may as well just hand the Western Conference champions slot to the Sounders. It’s not to say that not picking up a result here would necessarily doom the rest of the season. But it could. But more than that, RSL needs to prove (to themselves as much as anyone else) that they can win this match — because this matchup is going to happen again in the playoffs and it has always been a really strong rivalry with no clear superior team.