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Sounders begin work looking ahead to RSL

Post by Don Ruiz / The News Tribune on Oct. 30, 2012 at 8:38 am with No Comments »
October 30, 2012 1:31 pm

The Sounders will return to training later on this rainy morning, and we should have news from that — perhaps especially an update on the condition of forward Eddie Johnson.

For now, these notes from the club:

Seattle Sounders FC will begin its run towards the 2012 MLS Cup on Friday night with the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals against Real Salt Lake. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.

The match will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network, regionally on ROOT Spots and locally on KONG 6/16 with Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller calling the action. The match can also be heard live on 97.3 KIRO FM and in Spanish on La Gran D 99.3 FM.

Thirty-four weeks of regular season play culminates on Friday night with the first of two Western Conference Semifinal matches against Real Salt Lake. The away leg of the series is on Thursday, November 8 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PT.

Sounders FC is making its fourth straight postseason appearance, one of just three MLS teams (LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake) to qualify for the playoffs the past four years. Seattle is the first club since the Chicago Fire (1998-2003) to qualify for the playoffs in its first four MLS seasons.

Sounders FC (15-8-11, 56 points) finished the regular season as the third seed in the West and seventh overall with a 1-nil road loss to the LA Galaxy on Sunday night, snapping a four match (2-0-2) unbeaten run.

Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning finished the regular season with a league-leading 0.73 goals against average, the third best in MLS history, becoming the first keeper from outside of the CONCACAF region to lead the league in goals against average.

Forward Eddie Johnson set the club record with 14 goals, and Fredy Montero set a career-high with 13 goals to go along with eight assists. Mauro Rosales matched his club record from last season with 13 assists, and Osvaldo Alonso led the team with 2,688 minutes played.

The Rave Green now enters the playoffs seeking an elusive series win, having been eliminated in the first round the past three seasons. Sounders FC will have an opportunity to advance in the playoffs, as well as avenge last season’s loss, in a rematch of the 2011 West Semifinals against Salt Lake.

Unlike last year, Seattle is the lower seed and will host the first game, marking the third time that the team will host the first leg of a playoff series. Sounders FC is 1-4-1 all-time in the MLS Cup Playoffs with three goals scored and seven goals conceded.

Real Salt Lake (17-11-6, 57 points) is second in the West and fifth overall. The Claret-and-Cobalt went undefeated in its final five matches (3-0-2), shutting out Vancouver in a home draw on Saturday night. Salt Lake is 4-4-4 all-time in the MLS Cup Playoffs and is the only team to qualify each season since 2008.

RSL won the 2009 MLS Cup in front of 46,011 fans at CenturyLink Field, defeating the LA Galaxy in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw.

The MLS Cup Playoffs kick off two days prior with midweek play-in games. First, the Chicago Fire host the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, October 31 in the East Knockout Round. Kickoff is 6 p.m. PT on ESPN2. The LA Galaxy will host the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Thursday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m. PT on NBCSN.

The winner of the Seattle-Salt Lake series will face the winner of the San Jose Earthquakes-LA Galaxy/Vancouver Whitecaps FC match in the Western Conference Championship.

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