Real Salt Lake 0 : 0 Sounders FC
by Kali Korbis
The Fourth of July fireworks apparently missed Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night as Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders sputtered to lackluster a 0-0 draw.
With both sides desperately needing a win to stop their respective winless streaks, the play was generally cautious and lacking in urgency.
For Seattle, Sigi Schmid’s lineup raised a few eyebrows among the visiting press with Jeff Parke and Jhon Hurtado starting, and Zach Scott returning to right back in his 7th consecutive start. Pat Ianni and Adam Johansson were being re-introduced gradually to the starting eleven after recent injuries, but only Ianni made the bench as Johansson stayed home.
Servando Carrasco replaced the suspended Osvaldo Alonso in central midfield, but Fredy Montero returned from his own suspension incurred during the Portland game. Josh Ford appeared as substitute goalkeeper, having been sprung off the injury list following Andrew Weber’s injury in New England. Bryan Meredith started between the sticks. Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales began on the left and right, respectively.
Kenny Mansally and Kwame Watson-Siriboe both made their first starts for RSL, as the Real defense underwent a huge shakeup. Tony Beltran picked up a minor adductor spasm during the Columbus match and was not available for selection. Meanwhile, Jamison Olave and Ned Grabavoy both were deemed to fit enough for the 18-man roster, but not the starting lineup. Kyle Beckerman returned from suspension as well, while Luis Gil started alongside him in central midfield.
The first ten minutes of the match were relatively quiet, with both sides struggling to find any rhythm or string consecutive passes together. Chris Wingert made a fair tackle on Rosales about three minutes in on the flank, but the Sounders were aggrieved, particularly Scott, due to Rosales’ recent injury problems. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid also added his voice to the outcry.
The first shot on target came in the 11th minute, when the Sounders’ Eddie Johnson shot straight at RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Meanwhile, RSL’s first clear chance came in the 13th minute, when Watson-Siriboe stepped up and took a shot from distance, but missed.
In addition, Rimando made an excellent save in the 24th minute on a cross, batting the ball out of danger, but both sides struggled to find many chances on goal during the first half.
Carrasco chested Nat Borchers’ header off the line in the 32nd minute, the nearest either side had come to a goal during the opening 45.
Montero tracked back into the defensive third for Seattle in the 36th minute to strip Luis Gil of the ball, showing the kind of effort that had often been lacking in recent Sounders games.
While much of the first half was relatively slow, both sides momentarily lost their discipline just before halftime. The incident seemed to begin when Leo Gonzalez appeared to kick Alvaro Saborio, who overreacted in a fairly violent manner just in front of the assistant referee. Fernandez needlessly jumped into the fray. However, Hurtado was booked for dissent while Evans and Schmid sought explanations. Of the three antagonists, only Saborio received a sanction.
Gonzalez was booked for a foul on Will Johnson awarded after the referee had played an advantage in the 45th minute. It was the last meaningful action during the first half, in which RSL enjoyed a hefty 65.8% of possession with a rather insignificant 2 shots on target to show for it.
Neither side many any personnel changes at halftime, but some players’ nerves began to fray early on. Parke took Saborio down in the 47th minute, then Evans began to lose his temper, arguing with the referee on Parke’s foul and bringing down Javier Morales in the 48th minute.
RSL found the back of the net in the 52nd minute, but Saborio had strayed into an offside position and the goal was called back; the replay showed it to be the correct call. Two minutes later, Espindola set up Saborio once again — the Costa Rican’s turn was good, but his shot was unable to beat Meredith in goal.
Wingert received a yellow card in the 56th minute for a deliberate trip on Fernandez. There was a period of sloppiness from both sides, during which the number of turnovers for both teams was a less-than-stellar advertisement for the league. However, Rosales produced his best set piece delivery for some time just before the hour mark, but Scott’s reaction sent his header over the crossbar.
Both sides made a series of substitutions, but none were particularly effective. Grabavoy came on for Gil in the 62nd minute for RSL, while Jonny Steele came on for Mansally in the 79th minute. Seattle’s Andy Rose entered the match for Evans in the 64th minute, while Cordell Cato came on in the 73rd minute, replacing the ineffective Montero and Fernandez came off in the 84th minute in lieu of Marc Burch.
Eddie Johnson put his head down and ran at the RSL defense in the 63rd minute; he easily outpaced Watson-Siriboe but his shot went wide of Rimando’s goal.
RSL’s night was typified by an incident in the 68th minute in which nobody wanted to take a shot on goal. For both sides, a lack of movement and lack of pace characterized the second half.
Espindola attempted a shot on goal in the 83rd minute, but his shot missed the mark as well. Sounders might have stolen it at the end when both Johnson and Cato arrived marginally too late to turn Rosales’ cross in the 88th minute – the ball passed in front of Rimando’s goal without a single touch.
Finally, RSL had an opportunity on a free kick in the 90th minute, but Morales’ attempt sailed over everyone and out for a goal kick.
At the end of the match, both coaches were up off their respective benches, gesturing in frustration. Looking back on over the 90 minutes, RSL had 65.2% of possession with only three shots on goal. Schmid said later that much of Real’s possession was in their own half and he wasn’t terribly concerned about it.
Both sides will be in action soon, and neither coach will dwell too long on this result.
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2) – Nick Rimando; Chris Wingert, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Nat Borchers, Kenny Mansally (Jonny Steele, 79’); Kyle Beckerman (c), Luis Gil (Ned Grabavoy, 62’), Will Johnson, Javier Morales; Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish (GK), Emiliano Bonfigli, Jamison Olave, Yordany Alvarez, Paulo Jr.
Seattle Sounders FC (4-4-2) – Bryan Meredith; Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leonardo Gonzalez; Alvaro Fernandez (Marc Burch, 85’), Servando Carrasco, Brad Evans (Andy Rose, 64’), Mauro Rosales; Fredy Montero (Cordell Cato, 73’), Eddie Johnson
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Ford (GK), Alex Caskey, Samuel Ochoa, Patrick Ianni
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee’s Assistants: Paul Scott, Bill Dittmar 4th Official: Mark Declouet