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RSL braces for battle in Seattle with 1st place at stake

SANDY, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - The top two teams in MLS will hook up in Seattle Saturday afternoon as the first place Sounders host Real Salt Lake.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - The MLS season is only about one third complete, but Saturday's showdown in Seattle between the first place Sounders and second place Real Salt Lake has the makings of a classic.

"I'm excited for it," said head coach Jeff Cassar. "I think the guys will be up for the challenge. It's a place our players always seem to like to go to and play."

"They've been a very good team for the past four or five seasons as we have," said midfielder Ned Grabavoy. "We obviously have a history in the playoffs with them as well. They're a very well coached team with great individual talent. So, I think we look at it as a really good early season test for us."

"I feel like we always get up for the Seattle trip," added defender Nat Borchers. "It's a great city to be in, a great vibe surrounding the game and we're always playing against a good team."

Seattle is at the top of the table with 26 points (8-3-2), while RSL is just two points back with a record of 6-0-6. However, both teams will be without key players due to World Cup call ups. Seattle is missing Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin, while Real Salt Lake will be without Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio.

RSL will most likely be even more shorthanded as second leading scorer Joao Plata is expected to miss the match with a hamstring injury.

"I would anticipate that Joao is not going to be participating in this game," said Cassar. "But it's not as bad as we thought. Everything is day to day with him to see how he's doing, but we want to make sure this doesn't happen again. So, we're going to do what's best for Joao."

"We're missing some really good players," said Grabavoy. "But we trust everyone on this team. We've gone to a lot of different places in this league and gotten results with a lot of different people."

Robbie Findley will continue to see more action with the forwards, as will Devon Sandoval and Olmes Garcia. While none of those strikers have scored a goal this season, Cassar isn't worried about his team's scoring punch despite coming off it's first scoreless match since April 7th.

"I'm really not concerned with who is going to put the ball in the back of the net," he said. "I'm just concerned we're getting the right numbers in the attacking spots that we want to."

As if the match needed any more drama, Real Salt Lake can break the MLS record for longest unbeaten streak to start a season, although the team insists it's not concerned with the record.

"I don't want to [talk about it]," said midfielder Javier Morales with a smile. "It's game by game. I don't think much about it. I know we're one game away, but it's not a big deal for us."

"I've said it a lot, it's just how are we playing right now is the most important thing," said Borchers. "Are we making strides forward or moving backward? I think we're really moving forward well and we still have some things to work on, so I'm not celebrating quite yet."

Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders square off Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. on CW-30.
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