Sputtering Sounders aim to rebound vs. Real Salt Lake

SEATTLE -- An evaporating offense and a porous defense have combined to push the Seattle Sounders to the brink of the Western Conference cellar.

It is a position few pictured for the defending MLS Cup champions when the season started.

The Sounders (2-5-4) are looking to snap a three-game losing streak on Saturday when Real Salt Lake pays a visit. This season, Seattle has not resembled the side that won the league title in any way, shape or form.

During their recent three-game slide, the Sounders have been outscored by an 8-1 margin and have yielded 19 goals in 11 matches. Only Real Salt Lake and Minnesota United have permitted more total goals among MLS teams at this point in the season.

Things hit a low point in Seattle's 3-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. The Sounders looked good for a half, but melted down in the final 45 minutes.

"The guys in there are pretty frustrated again," Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer told SB Nation following the game. "They understand that they played well in the first half and they want to get back out there."

A perfect storm of problems has been a catalyst for Seattle's struggles. Injuries at key positions, relying on inexperienced players and an inability to finish chances have been on display.

Real Salt Lake (3-7-2) can relate. It has endured a four-game losing streak of its own until finally getting a 2-1 victory over New York City FC on Wednesday.

During its lengthy skid, Real Salt Lake went 329 minutes without scoring a goal while also allowing early goals to put it on the defensive.

It nearly played out in similar fashion after NYCFC scored in the fourth minute to take a 1-0 lead. Real Salt Lake rallied as Albert Rusnak scored the equalizer before halftime and assisted on the game winner early in the second half to give it just its third win in 12 games.

"After going down early, they had a different mentality tonight," Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke told reporters following the game. "Not that they weren't angry before when we gave up these goals, but you could see something different today in their reactions. No one hung their head, and they clawed back and got the equalizer in the first half."

Getting a result on the road against the Sounders will prove challenging for Real Salt Lake even amid Seattle's struggles. Seattle has won six straight home matches against Real Salt Lake dating back to the 2012 season.

Updated May 19, 2017

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