The Seattle Sounders look to continue their unbeaten start to the season -- albeit after a less-than-convincing draw in Vancouver -- when they return home to face a Real Salt Lake club that has lost three straight.
The Sounders (3-0-1, 10 points) fell short of winning four straight to open the season for the first time in club history last weekend, managing just a 0-0 draw against the Whitecaps at BC Place.
It was perhaps an unexpected result against a rebuilding Vancouver side that hadn't earned a point in its first three matches after turning over more than half of its roster in the offseason.
But with several players returning from international duty, and the rest having not played in two weeks while the Sounders took off for the March international window, coach Brian Schmetzer isn't reading too much into it.
"I think the week off might've taken its toll a little bit," he said. "There might've been a little bit of international fatigue. I think the team just wasn't as sharp as the first three games. So we've addressed that."
Meanwhile, Real Salt Lake (1-3-1, 4 points) played through that break, dropping a heartbreaking 2-1 game at LAFC on the road following Walker Zimmerman's stoppage-time winner.
That respectable performance came despite fielding a largely second-team lineup, missing a sizable part of RSL's key players between international duty and a pair of red-card suspensions.
But the following weekend, coach Mike Petke's team was thoroughly outplayed at home in a 4-2 loss to FC Dallas.
Those results have put some emotional distance between the team's current state of mind and its two wins against Seattle last season, which helped RSL edge their way into the playoffs.
"Last year is not in our mind at all," Petke said. "Different year, different teams. Yeah, I guess we could draw a little confidence in how we played against LAFC. Organized, disciplined. But at the end of the day, we lost in the 91st minute."
Real Salt Lake have had a player sent off in three straight matches, including two players sent off in a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of D.C. United on March 16.