Since entering the league in 2009, the Seattle Sounders have appeared on the cusp of a championship breakthrough. The club won the U.S. Open Cup each of their first three MLS seasons and reached the final again their fourth season. The Sounders have been in the playoffs each year, and they’ve inched progressively closer to a spot in the MLS Cup final.
This year has proven to be a year of regression so far. While Seattle has reached the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal, where they will face Santos Laguna in the first leg at CenturyLink Field on Tuesday night, they have earned just one point in their first four matches after falling yet again on Saturday in MLS regular-season play. This time a road trip to Utah ended in another defeat as Real Salt Lake held on for a 2-1 victory.
It took Real just eight minutes to score their first, as Robbie Findley tenaciously pounced on a bad clearance to put away one of many opportunities he would generate for himself throughout the match. Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning was bombarded early and often by the home side as Salt Lake, emboldened by Findley’s example, pressed for more scores.
Luis Gil would add a second for Salt Lake just after the half-hour mark. The finishing man on a textbook corner kick, Gil received a cross from Ned Grabavoy after Sebastian Velasquez flicked on a short pass from the corner and dove to head the ball past Gspurning for the insurance marker.
Seattle, down two after the intermission, bulled out of the locker room for the second half and set Real back on their heels. Brad Evans finally pulled one back in the 57th minute as the pressure got to Salt Lake, but the goal only served to awaken the Real defense as they tightened up against the rejuvenated Sounders attack. RSL keeper Nick Rimando prevented the remaining attempts on his net from crossing the line, and the home side set Seattle further back in the standings. In the process the 2009 MLS champions moved themselves into playoff position with their second victory of March.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS @ REAL SALT LAKE
Rio Tinto Stadium
March 24, 2013
- 8′ — RSL/Robbie Findley (unassisted)
- 35′ — RSL/Luis Gil (Ned Grabavoy, Sebastian Velasquez)
- 57′ — SEA/Brad Evans (Mauro Rosales, DeAndre Yedlin)
- RSL (4-1-2-1-2): Nick Rimando; Kenny Mansally (Lovel Palmer/81′), Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran; Kyle Beckerman; Sebastian Velasquez, Ned Grabavoy; Luis Gil (Javier Morales/62′); Robbie Findley (Joao Plata/14′), Devon Sandoval
- SEA (4-4-2): Michael Gspurning; Marc Burch, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, DeAndre Yedlin; Steve Zakuani, Brad Evans (Andy Rose/81′), Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales; Eddie Johnson (Samuel Ochoa/78′), Obafemi Martins (David Estrada/62′)