SANDY, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake (17-11-6, 57 pts., West #2) tonight learned the dates for its 2012 MLS Cup Playoff Western Conference Semifinal series legs against Seattle Sounders FC (15-8-12, 56 pts., West #3).
RSL will open the highly-anticipated series - a repeat of last year's West Semifinal stage - this Friday, November 2 at Century Link Field, with the final leg of the 180-minute, aggregate goal series on Thursday, November 8 at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Claret-and-Cobalt won MLS Cup 2009 at the same venue in which it opens this year's postseason, defeating Los Angeles in a shootout at what was then known as Qwest Field.
The home portion of the 2012 MLS Cup Playoff Western Conference Semifinal is included in this year’s PRIDE season-ticket package (Playoff Game A), and has been on sale to the general public for multiple weeks. Additionally, new 2013 PRIDE season ticket holders can purchase this year’s playoff tickets at the preferred season ticket rate. Kickoff times and broadcast information for both legs of the RSL-SEA series will be determined shortly.
The final weekend’s results of the 2012 MLS regular-season allowed RSL to secure the West No. 2 seed. RSL PRIDE season ticket holders can also continue to purchase extra tickets for the THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8 game by calling the STH hotline at (801) 727-2702 or the main RSL phone at (801) 727-2700. Season ticket holders can also show their STH ID Card at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office window, open Mon-Fri from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m MT.
On Saturday, Real Salt Lake drew with Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 0-0, before yet another standing-room only crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium. The result extended RSL's active unbeaten run across all competitions entering the playoffs to 7 games, with RSL improving to 6-1-4 in its final 11 MLS and CONCACAF games, outscoring opponents 12-3. RSL has not allowed a goal in its last 343 minutes, posting a defensive clean sheet in 8 of its last 11 games. The Rio Tinto Stadium sell-out of 20,483 on Saturday marked the sixth consecutive full house in Sandy, Utah, and the 11th sellout in 19 MLS and CONCACAF Champions League games this season.
The RSL draw against Vancouver - which will travel to The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles to face the Galaxy in the West Knockout Game on Thursday - gave the Utah club a franchise-high 57 points in 2012. RSL also set a new team standard with 17 wins this season, both of this year's wins/points marks exceeding the previous-best 15 wins / 56 points in the 30-game 2010 campaign.
Tonight, RSL's West Semi opponent Seattle fell 0-1 at Los Angeles to determine the final Playoff seeding. The RSL / SEA / LA triumvirate are the only three clubs to have qualified for the MLS playoffs in each of the last four seasons (RSL owns Major League Soccer’s longest active streak, with five consecutive postseasons).
RSL posted a 1-0-2 mark this season against Seattle, winning in its May 12 visit to the Pacific Northwest as MF Luis Gil set up FW Fabian Espindola shortly after halftime for the game’s only goal. That RSL win snapped a five-game win streak for the Sounders, who visited Rio Tinto Stadium on July 4 and claimed a point in a 0-0 draw. Two weeks ago, RSL made a return trip to Seattle, settling for a 0-0 draw despite enjoying a man-advantage for 60 minutes in a game that saw player selection affected by the FIFA World Cup Qualifying windows.
In last year’s MLS Cup Playoff series between RSL and Seattle, Jason Kreis’ team opened at home with a scintillating 3-0 victory, one remembered for a sublime backheel sweep by FW Alvaro Saborio and a long-range blast by MF Ned Grabavoy, one that proved to be the series winner. In the second leg at Century Link Field, RSL held off a Sounders’ siege – despited missing veteran defensive stalwarts Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave to injury - to allow just two goals, no defensive play finer than the first-half goal-line clearance by DF Tony Beltran.