Headline match-up in Week 13 – Real Salt Lake v Seattle Sounders

Pedigree and consistency of purpose are two words/phrases that come to mind when I consider these teams.  Both are currently doing very well and in my Composite PWP Index, after 12 weeks, they sit in positions four and five.

In considering this early-to-mid-season marquee match-up I’ve put together a few diagrams that might help paint a picture on how effective these two teams are.

My approach will consider how well Real Salt Lake has performed on the road this year versus how well Seattle have performed at home this year; I hope you enjoy it.

But before starting the Capt. Obvious — both teams have some players missing.  With this being Week 13 RSL have used 15 different field players this year while Seattle have used 18.

So although key-players are missing I don’t really think it matters that much – what matters for me, is the beginning words; pedigree and consistency of purpose through the course of this season so far.

And given RSL are unbeaten while Seattle have 26 points with 13 games played the ‘key-player-missing-theme’ just doesn’t work for me.

Given that here’s my latest Doughnut Diagrams for Real Salt Lake versus Seattle; first one up is showing the weighted averages on how each team has attacked their opponent this year (RSL in away games) and (SSFC in home games).

PWP A different Angle RSL v SSFC in Attack

PWP A different Angle RSL v SSFC in Attack



Not much separates the two teams when looking at what percentage each of the activities in PWP amounts to in relationship to each other – the only one showing any real difference is the amount of Shots on Goal versus Shots Taken for Real Salt Lake.

Given the same rough volume of Shots Taken per penetration (7%) for both teams, RSL are more effective in converting those Shots Taken to Shots on Goal.

In viewing the next percentage – converting those Shots on Goal to Goals Scored there is a slight edge to Seattle.

In total though, both teams are +5 in their Goal Differential (RSL on the road) and (SSFC at home).

Early indications are this should be a very tight game.

The next diagram offers up how each team performs in defense against their opponents attack:

PWP A different Angle RSL v SSFC in Defense

PWP A different Angle RSL v SSFC in Defense


While some may disagree with this view I would submit this diagram helps speak to how these two teams defend differently yet they end up with the same result.

Note that RSL opponents have yielded less volume in their opponent passing accuracy within and outside the final third but greater volume in penetrating and creating shots.

For me that indicates RSL have a tendency to apply pressure higher up the pitch.

On the other hand the Seattle opponent percentages seem to indicate to me that their defense tucks in a bit more in the final third with the intent of giving their opponent a wee bit more possession outside the final third.

However viewed both teams appear matched evenly when it comes to preventing Shots on Goal and Goals Scored.

An interesting thing to watch for in this game might be how high up the pitch Alonso ventures versus Grossman (the likely replacement for Beckerman).

I would offer the more Alonso commits himself outside the final third the more likely RSL are to score.

On to the standard team performance percentages from the six steps in Possession with Purpose:

Below is the diagram showing the percentages of RSL and how they defend on the road, versus SSFC and how they attack at home.

PWP RSL attacking v SSFC defending

PWP RSL attacking v SSFC defending


I’ve highlighted two areas; the Shots on Goal versus Shots Taken and the Goals Scored versus Shots on Goal; note that when Seattle attacks 40% of their Shots Taken end up on Goal with roughly 28% of those hitting the back of the net.

Conversely, when RSL defends on the road they are pretty stingy when it comes to yielding Shots on Goal; ~30%, but when the opponent does put that Shot on Goal about ~37% of those shots hit the back of the net.

All told the other indicators seem to support a high level of passing accuracy and possession; if the opponent (dark blue bar for SSFC is 46% then SSFC averages 54% at home in attack.

Next up the view on how RSL attacks on the road versus how SSFC defends at home.

PWP RSL defending v SSFC attacking

PWP RSL defending v SSFC attacking


Again the highlighted area for RSL is Shots on Goal versus Shots Taken – clearly (given the lower amount of Shots Taken per penetration) (light blue bar – ~18%) RSL takes its time in setting up shots that are more likely to be on target – and scoring is not a problem given their +5 goal differential on the road.

As for Seattle, they yield, on average, about the same amount of Shots Taken per penetration but the resultant indicates they are more successful in preventing that Shot Taken from becoming a Shot on Goal < ~30%.

Another indicator reinforcing that they appear to work towards closing down their opponents more tightly within their defending third.

In closing…

I’m not sure we see a tight game here – it’s mid-season and both teams might want to test each others’ weaknesses at full speed.

If I had to take a choice on which defense is stronger I would go with Real – on the other side if I had to choose if momentum were going to influence this game I reckon the strong supporter base of Seattle will pull them through.

If individual players are going to impact this game for Real Salt Lake I’d like to think it would be Ned Grabavoy or Joao Plata.

On the other hand if individual players are going to provide a positive impact to Seattle I can see Cooper or Martins taking that leadership; both can be dangerous goal scorers in different ways.

If I were in Seattle I would go to this game… just to watch two strong teams go head-to-head!

Best, Chris