Sounders 0 : 0 RSL
Seattle Sounders failed to score against Real Salt Lake for the fourth consecutive match in a goalless first leg of the Western Conference semi-finals. It was also RSL’s fourth straight 0-0 tie.
Neither statistic does justice to an exciting game punctuated by some of the best goalkeeping you could hope to see by RSL’s Nick Rimando, especially two saves in quick succession in the first half to deny Sammy Ochoa and Jhon Hurtado.
The sides will settle the tie on November 10th the side’s level and anyone’s game although the RSL locker room seemed the far happier of the two.
With a series of contentious matches in recent memory and the tension of the playoffs forefront, the match was not three seconds underway before the first foul was committed, by Christian Tiffert.
A largely defensive first half started with Sounders stuck in early as Salt Lake retained possession in and around the box. Efforts from Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio were blocked by Sounder defenders and cleared.
Kwame Watson-Siriboe made a stunning tackle in the 9th minute to deny Sounders first true attack of the game and what likely would have been a goal. Mauro Rosales deep on the left side played a long ball center to Ochoa. Ochoa took the ball towards the end line on the right before playing it back center to Rosales running into the box. Siriboe’s tackle deflected the ball off the Argentinian and saved the sure goal.
Brad Evans looked like a linebacker on the Seahawks decorated pitch when he leveled Javier Morales at full speed around the 15th minute. The midfielder was lucky to stay out of the book for the hit.
The middle part of the half was highlighted by a kind of duel of the goalkeepers as each one upped each other. Saborio found space behind the Sounders line and was briefly one v one with Mike Gspurning. Gspurning however was well off his line and intercepted the ball with a crunching tackle.
A minute later it was Rimando’s turn for heroics when he charged and blocked a Brad Evans effort who had taken a slightly heavy touch just prior to the shot.
Rimando then kept the game level with two remarkable saves from set pieces in the 32nd minute as Sounders were charging corners and free kicks behind the weight of Sammy Ochoa and Jhon Hurtado. Rimando’s first save was diving to his left, the second to his right and both off headers from six yards.
Gspurning again answered the efforts of his RSL counterpart a minute later when Will Johnson found the ball at his feet after a series of deflections, just inside the 18 yard box. His shot to the left post was saved well by the keeper.
The half wound down a bit sloppily and both sides were probably happy to go into the tunnels level at 0-0.
Ochoa missed a sitter in the 49th minute as the half got off to a quick start. Evans snuck behind the defense on the left side and played it in to Ochoa at six yards. Ochoa drug his right foot and developed far too much leverage with his left skying the shot well over goal.
Rimando then saved an Ochoa header diving to his left a minute later in what was quickly becoming a memorable performance for the RSL keeper.
Sounders gained momentum in the early part of the half and looked at their most dangerous with balls being played overhead into the box. One of these sequences in the 60th minute resulted in a blocked shot from Montero falling to Alonso at the edge of the 18 yard box. His ensuing shot was just over the crossbar.
Christian Tiffert caught Rimando just above the eye with his elbow in 65th minute on a swinging cross from Rosales forcing the RSL keeper to receive treatment for the larger part of six minutes. A small section of the Seattle fans were unkind to the keeper who from closer camera angles was clearly cut in an awkward spot and received three stitches.
Rimando himself was characteristically generous in addressing the fans’ behaviour. His captain Kyle Beckerman and his opposite number both expressed their displeasure post game in their differing manners.
The injury and subsequent delay did appear to take some of the punch from what had been sustained period of attack for Seattle.
Sigi substituted Mario Martinez on in the 80th minute as Sounders fielded a quicker and more technical lineup for the final 10 minutes of regular time.
Gspurning made another fine save in the 85th an effort of which came off the head of Saborio.
A minute later the ball fell to David Estrada with a clear chance unmarked from six yards, but he failed to connect as the ball bounced over his kick.
Sounders fans were given a glimmer of hope when eight minutes extra time showed on the board. Sigi substituted Steve Zakuani into the match minutes later, but it was to no avail as the sides finished level at 0-0.
Both sides head to Utah with the claret and cobalt’s tails up. Sounders however have only lost four out of 17 away matches in MLS. This match is far from over.
Seattle Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch, Mauro Rosales (Steve Zakuani 90+4), Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert (Mario Martinez 82), Brad Evans, Fredy Montero, Sammy Ochoa (David Estrada 57).
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Servando Carrasco, Alex Caskey, Zach Scott.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; FOULS: 13; OFFSIDE: 2; CORNER KICKS: 8; SAVES: 4.
Real Salt Lake – Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Kwame Watson-Siriboe (Jamison Olave 76), Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Yordany Alvarez 87), Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola (Paulo Jr.).
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish, Luis Gil, Kenny Mansally, Jonny Steele.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; FOULS: 13; OFFSIDE: 1; CORNER KICKS: 8; SAVES: 4.
SEA – Jeff Parke (caution) 45+1′
RSL – Kyle Beckerman (caution) 53′
SEA – Brad Evans (caution) 54′
RSL – Javier Morales (caution) 56′