Seattle Sounders continued their good form to cruise past Real Salt Lake at Centurylink Stadium in a crucial top-of-the-table clash on Saturday, overthrowing their rivals to secure top spot of Western Conference and the Supporters’ Shield. The goals both came in the first half from forwards Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle.
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The RSL were coming into the game after a two-week layoff, although they had starters Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman out on international duty. Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson were coming off the bench for Sounders after their midweek exploits for USMNT against Mexico.
Seattle Sounders started the game with a high-tempo and caught RSL off-guard as early as the 3rd minute. A neat flick by Obafemi Martins released Andy Rose down the byline. Rose’s cross was capped with a fine finish by Martins in the box.
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Sounders could have been two up from a set-piece within 7 minutes after kick-off, but RSL keeper Nick Rimando made the save to keep RSL in the game.
RSL appeared to respond positively after the initial jolt and had a legit claim for a PK in the 18th minute when playmaker Javier Morales was tripped by Oswaldo Alonso in the box. The referee, however, waved play on.
The game continued to be open – RSL making quick passes and getting Plata and Findley in advanced, wide positions and Sounders countering with pace down the flanks.
Soon it was the Seattle side who grabbed the second goal of the game. DeAndre Yedlin found himself in acres of space down the right hand side and the full-back took full advantage to drive deep into the RSL half. The low-cross was finished by Lamar Naegle in the 38th minute.
The half-time ended 2-0 to the home team, leaving Kreis men with a mountain to climb in front of a raucous home crowd. Jason Kreis brought on Olmes Garcia to start the second half, switching to a more adventurous 4-3-3.
It was home team, however, who had the greater forward momentum and could have put the game beyond RSL’s reach within a few minutes of the restart. Lamar Naegle beat the offside trap to find himself in a one-on-one with Rimando in the 54th minute, but the RSL keeper’s reflexes again prevented further damage for the visitors. Martins’ pace was always a threat for RSL’s high backline and the Nigerian twice found himself at the end of a long pass. On either occasion, he failed to pull the trigger before the RSL defense could clear their lines.
Clint Dempsey, coming on as a substitute and still looking for his first goal in a Sounders’ shirt, had a good opportunity to add to the tally. His goal-bound strike following a set-piece in the 83rd minute was blocked by Kyle Beckerman.
RSL never posed a serious threat in the second half and their only effort of note was a glancing header by Nat Borchers from a Morales set-piece. The away team claimed the ball had crossed the goal-line before being grasped by Seattle keeper Gspurring, but the replays seemed inconclusive.
With a strong home form and a five-game winning streak, Sounders look in pole position to clinch the Supporters’ Shield as they take on LA Galaxy at StubHub Center on September 21. RSL are still in the chase with only a point behind as they welcome San Jose Earthquakes at home on the same day.