HERRIMAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – There is barely any time to celebrate their last-minute 2-1 playoff win over Portland, because Real Salt Lake has to be in Seattle in two days to battle the Sounders in the Western Conference Semifinals.
But this team is so fired up right now, they players are running on pure adrenaline.
“We’re all excited to go to Seattle and hopefully come back with a result,” said goalkeeper Nick Rimando. “But, you can feel it in the air, you can feel it in the locker room. Guys are excited.”
“This is the most fun time of year,” added captain Kyle Beckerman. “It’s such a small part of the season, but it’s the most important. So, I think we’re all just wanting this part of the season to go on and on.”
Fresh off a thrilling win over the Timbers in which Jefferson Savarino scored the game-winning goal in the 87th minute, RSL now turns its attention to Seattle, which defeated FC Dallas in the first round, 4-3.
RSL split their two meetings with the Sounders this year, losing 1-0 in Seattle in April, and winning 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium in August. But you can throw those results out now that it’s playoff time.
“Especially the game here,” Beckerman said. “It didn’t look like a Seattle time that we’ve seen ever. Like we always say, once these playoffs come around, especially after the first round, everybody is feeling confident.”
“There’s not going to be any secrets between us and Seattle now,” said interim head coach Freddy Juarez. “We’ve seen each other more than enough times. We’ve seen the video more than enough times. We’re going to go and throw our punches, and we’re going to go and take some punches. Kyle said it best the other day. Someone is going to get hit in the mouth, and then see how you respond from it.”
The challenge for Juarez, who has led RSL to three straight victories, will be to find the best and most rested 11 players to put on the field.
“Freddy is in a tough position, because in these playoffs everybody wants to be on the field,” Rimando said. “Right now, it’s all about getting some rest.”
“I can’t make decisions until we know how the guys really are,” Juarez said. “We may have to be a little lighter on them tomorrow [in practice]. Some guys just react to it differently.
Seattle is the place RSL won its only MLS Cup championship ten years ago. Beckerman and Rimando are the only players left from that team, but they would like to see a similar result on Wednesday.
“We’re looking to make a new memory,” Beckerman said. “I think this will be a huge moment for this club to get a win on Wednesday.”
“It’s win or go home,” added Rimando. “So, I think on both sides, everybody is ready to go.”
RSL and Seattle will play Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. with the winner facing either the L.A. Galaxy or LAFC in the conference finals.