In what would otherwise be an interesting preview of a likely playoff matchup, injuries and international duty have conspired from taking some of the luster out of the showdown between the Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.
International duty has cost the Sounders at least Adam Johansson (Sweden) and Mario Martinez (Honduras) and will likely render Eddie Johnson (United States) no more than a very late sub. They will also be missing Jhon-Kennedy Hurtado (facial fracture) and Leo Gonzalez (hamstring).
The Sounders will be forced to use a backline that is three-fourth different from the one that started each of the past two games. The good news for them is that their midfield should be at full strength.
RSL are not much better off, though. Will Johnson (Canada) and Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) each played 90 minutes for their national teams on Tuesday, while Kyle Beckerman (United States) and Nick Rimando (United States) have not trained with the team for more than a week. They will at least have the services of Luis Gil, who was called back early from the United States U-20 team.
Full strength or not, the winner of this game could well determine who gets home-field advantage in what looks to be a likely playoff matchup. RSL currently sits in the West's No. 2 spot, three points ahead of the Sounders. But the Sounders have a game in hand and a two-goal lead in the first tiebreaker. These two teams also met in the playoffs last year, where RSL held on for a 3-2 aggregate-goal victory.
TV: NBCSN; Time: 10 p.m. EST.