Sounders Insider

Sounders begin work for Supporters Shield showdown

The Sounders return to training this morning. I'll return with notes after that, but meanwhile, here's a look ahead from the club:

Seattle Sounders FC hosts league-leading Real Salt Lake on Friday night in a battle for first place in MLS. The match will be nationally televised on NBC Sports Network and the stadium will be opened to the full seated manifest. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.

John Strong and Kyle Martino will call the match on NBCSN, and Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller can be heard on 97.3 FM. The match can be heard in Spanish on La Gran D 99.3 FM.

The full stadium will be open for Friday's match, with tickets starting at $18. Tickets to all remaining Sounders FC home matches are available through SoundersFC.com, all Ticketmaster Outlets, the CenturyLink Field Box Office or by calling 800-745-3000.

Sounders FC (14-8-4, 46 points) is the hottest team in the league, winning seven of its past eight for the first time in club history. With four straight wins, Seattle could set the season record for longest winning streak with a victory on Friday night.

Last week, Sounders FC defeated Chivas USA and the Chicago Fire to extend the club record home unbeaten streak to 12 games. Lamar Neagle and Marc Burch connected for goals in each game, and the defense remained among the league's elite with an average of 1.04 goals allowed per game.

Seattle now eyes the top spot in the race for the Supporters' Shield, sitting just two points behind Salt Lake with two games in hand. Despite the rest of the weekend's results, a win on Friday night would put Seattle in sole possession of first place.

Friday's match will be the third and final meeting of the season with Real Salt Lake (14-8-6, 48 points). Salt Lake won the previous two meetings at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, and Seattle will look for its first regular-season victory over RSL since May 28, 2011.

The two sides have met the past two seasons in the playoffs. After falling to Salt Lake in the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals, Sounders FC ousted RSL from the 2012 semis, 1-0 on aggregate. Overall, the teams have met 16 times across all competitions since 2009, with Seattle going 5-6-5.

Salt Lake has not played since a 4-2 home win on August 30. RSL leads MLS with 52 goals this season and has scored multiple goals in 12 of the last 16 games.

Sounders FC will host Salt Lake in an MLS Reserve League match on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. PT at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash.

Seattle will then take on another top team in the West with a visit to the LA Galaxy on September 21. Sounders FC will conclude the month with a home match against the New York Red Bulls on September 29.

Sounders FC Fast Facts* 1.04 - Seattle's 1.04 goals against average is tied-second in MLS.

* 1.77 - Sounders FC leads the league with 1.77 points per game.

* 4 - Seattle is the only team to win four straight games and could set the season record with a win on Friday.

* 4 - Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle have each scored four game-winning goals, ranking fifth in MLS.

* 5 - Mauro Rosales is tied-first in MLS with five game-winning assists.

* 7 - Seattle is the only team with seven wins in the past eight matches.

* 9 - Seattle is unbeaten in nine (7-0-2) all-time games played in front of over 40,000.

* 11 - The team has allowed the fewest goals (11) in the second half this season, including just four goals allowed in the final half hour.

* 12 - Sounders FC currently holds a club record 12-game home unbeaten streak, the second-longest in MLS this season.

* 14 - Seattle's 14 wins are the most in MLS, and the four draws are the fewest.

* 17 - Friday's match will be the 17th meeting between Seattle and Salt Lake across all competitions - the most in club history.

* 21 - the 21 points from the last eight games is the best stretch in club history.

* 30 - The 30 home points ranks third in club history, and the nine home wins are the second-most.

* 33 - Mauro Rosales' 33 career assists is one shy of matching Fredy Montero's club record.

* 45 - Sounders FC is unbeaten in 45 straight games (37-0-8) when scoring first.

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