SANDY, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - It's the battle in Seattle. Real Salt Lake opens the MLS playoffs Friday night in Seattle against the Sounders, a team Real has respect for, but not a lot of love.
"We're two of the best teams in the league and whenever we face each other, you're going to get some bad blood," said RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. "We're going to go out there and focus on ourselves, but we know they are a dangerous team."
"I think it's a good rivalry we've started brewing up," said midfielder Kyle Beckerman. "When you continue being a good team in the league, which Seattle and we are, you're going to face each other in important games more often. It does tense things up, but all in all I think it's going to be a positive thing for an exciting playoffs."
Last season, RSL knocked Seattle out of the playoffs, winning the two-game aggregate series, 3-2. In three meetings this year, only one goal has been scored, by RSL's Fabian Espindola in a 1-0 victory in Seattle. The other two matches ended in scoreless draws, so this could be a low-scoring series.
"All the games we've played have been pretty attack-oriented, exciting games with lots of chances," said head coach Jason Kreis. "For whatever reason, the ball hasn't ended up in the back of the net very much. I wouldn't expect things to be too different."
This has been the most successful regular season in Real Salt Lake history. The team set franchise records with 17 victories and 57 points. But, although RSL is unbeaten in its last seven matches, the team has not scored a goal in its last three contests. But they say that is not that big of a concern.
"There is always going to be two ways to look at things," said Kreis. "One way, which is the easy way, is to say how discouraged we are that we haven't scored a goal in three games. The other way is to say how encouraged we are with our defensive play. Often times in the playoffs, it's not about scoring three or four goals. It's about scoring that one goal and keeping a shutout."
"If you go back to times this year, we went through some droughts where we couldn't score," added Beckerman. "But the main thing is it wasn't because of a lack of chances. These playoffs are a perfect time for us to get out of this little funk and get our steam going."
This is the fifth straight year Real has made the playoffs, and they hope that experience with their core group of players will pay off.
"We've all been here before," said Rimando. "Hard work definitely got us here again. We have a very veteran team that knows how to play in different environments."
The first leg of the series will start at 8:00 p.m. Friday night with the second game set for Rio Tinto Stadium November 8th at 7:30 p.m.