The Sounders looked like they had the proverbial start two minutes into the game when Jordan Morris rifled the ball into the back of the net. Morris was deemed to have been offside.
The disallowed goal served as a reminder for Real Salt Lake just how potent the Sounders offense is. For RSL that meant compacting the middle of the pitch and forcing the Sounders to use the wide areas of the pitch to advance to the ball.
PATIENCE PAYS OFF
The strategy of packing the middle of the field and daring the Sounders to beat you on the outside is the league’s adopted strategy of stopping the league second-ranked offense. The Sounders are becoming competent at countering the bunker down strategy with patient deliberate passes that move the defense from side to side. That strategy paid off in the 28th minute when a Nicolas Lodeiro pass found a streaking Morris in front of the RSL goal for the 1-0 lead.
The halftime break revitalized the Sounders and the team came out determined to get the second goal. The halftime adjustment was quicker passes from player to player and quick off-ball movements by those that did not the ball. The Sounders had two golden chances that went begging. In the 49th minute, Cristian Roldan received an exquisite pass but he was unable to convert as his shot drifted just wide of the RSL goal. The second missed opportunity came minutes later when Will Bruin’s header from another Lodeiro pass was saved by RSL keeper Andrew Putna.
SOUNDERS GET A SECOND
The Sounders determination and commitment paid off in the 60th minute when what else another Lodeiro pass landed on the head of defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade who headed the ball into the back of the next for the 2-0 lead. RSL cut the Sounders lead to one goal six minutes late when Sounders defender Nouhou tried to clear a pass into the box that ended up in the Sounders net for an own goal.
BIG TAKE AWAY
The Sounders had multiple chances to score more goals. The own goal by Nouhou was unfortunate. Good teams find ways to win and this was one of those grind it out wins. RSL tried several strategies against the Sounders dropping back, counter-attacking, and pressing. Nothing worked because the Sounders were discipline in their defense and offense. The fact that the Sounders were without starters Raul Ruidiaz, Gustav Svensson, and Xavier Arreaga and seemingly did not miss a beat shows the depth and quality of the team.