Seattle Sounders didn’t waste any time against Real Salt Lake, the opening minutes were a flurry of activity up the left flank involving Marc Burch. Doubtful that many fans in Salt Lake were as worried about Marc Burch as opposed to Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, or Obafemi Martins. Burch went to work in the very first minute of play overlapping Lamar Neagle and finding Martins on a cross in the box that went unfinished.
Moments later Burch would start a combination of passes that would lead to to a goal. Burch played Martins a ball in the center who the gave Andy Rose a long run to the endline near the edge of the box. He collected the ball and found Martins for the opening goal.
In the 7th minute, Burch once again created the opportunity for a goal by winning a corner that forced a brilliant save from Nick Rimando off of Zach Scott’s header. Mauro Rosales provided the cross.
Joao Plata forced Michael Gspurning into a save on another long attempt that was not as dangerous as it first appeared, going well wide and not truly challenging the Sounder goalkeeper.
In the 18th minute Osvaldo Alonso had a close call with Javier Morales in the box. Alonso definitely clipped Morales, but referee Allen Chapman did not consider it worthy of a penalty despite the protestations of RSL players and eventually their coach, Jason Kreis. Morales remained down for several minutes but continued through the match.
Plata gave it another go from distance in the 31st minute but his attempt went well wide.
After Burch softened up RSL from the left on the first goal, DeAndre Yedlin provided the knockout blow from the right. Martins set Yedlin free on an overlap, the defender took his first touch into the box and found Neagle open in front of the net for the Sounders’ second goal of the evening.
RSL had played Sounders even on every meaningless stat line, and hadn’t created any real danger of their own.
Rosales made an incredible pass to Martins approximately 10 minutes into the second half that dropped right onto the Nigerian’s foot and into the danger area. Were it not for Nat Borchers’ well-timed recovery it would have surely been three goals for Sounders in the 58th minute.
It was not long after that frustration began to set in for RSL and Chapman began putting names in his book: Carlos Salcedo in the 60th minute, foul; Ned Grabavoy in the 63rd minute, foul; 70th minute Olmes Garcia, foul; Khari Stephenson in the 85th minute, foul; and finally Kyle Beckerman was booked for time-wasting in the 89th minute, despite his team being down two goals. Yedlin also picked up a caution in the 79th minute for a foul and to maintain some appearance of fairness.
It is also worth noting that Clint Dempsey was subbed on in the 61st minute for Burch and two of the yellow cards issued were for fouls on Dempsey.
Coach Sigi Schmid noted that RSL changed their formation from to a 4-3-3 at the half and Sounders went to a modified 4-3-3 to match them. After Dempsey and Eddie Johnson came on, Schmid described the formation jokingly as an “amoeba.”
Schmid also gave some insight into his lineup choices for the night given the amount of time that his players put in for Jurgen Klinsmann against Mexico on Tuesday. “Beckerman went 90, that was not a normal game for him, he looked a little fatigued.” Dempsey and Johnson both looked good coming in as subs with a 2-0 lead and were given wide latitude within the “amoeba system.”
Fatigued or rested, full-strength lineup or backups, it was an impressive win for Sounders. They certainly appeared to be the head of the class in MLS tonight leapfrogging another star pupil with a minimal amount of effort.