Categorized | Match Reports

Sounders continue dream start with 2-0 victory over RSL

Posted on 29 March 2009 by nschiffler

After you’ve read the report, see the photos here.

A surprising thought is beginning to form in the minds of many MLS fans. Maybe that club in the Northwest, the one in the bright green kits, is doing something right. Maybe the expansion Seattle Sounders FC, who beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday night, might actually be a very good team.

It was the second win in as many games for Seattle, which got goals off of the knee of Nate Jaqua in the 17th minute and the foot of Fredy Montero in the 77th. Salt Lake often had the better of the play in the second half, but they were largely unable to capitalize on their possession in the Seattle half, and what quality attempts they did have were thwarted by Sounders keeper Kasey Keller. The Washington native turned in a sparkling seven save performance and was named the man of the match.

It didn’t start out looking like a victory for Seattle, though, as they struggled to possess the ball from the get-go. RSL controlled the first 10 minutes of the match just as New York had against Seattle in the previous week. Some good interplay down the left led to a Yura Movsisyan shot from a tight angle in the 11th minute, but Keller blocked it away easily. After that the Sounders began to put their imprint on the game, and it led to their first goal 16 minutes later. From the midfield stripe, Osvaldo Alonso picked out Steve Zakuani in the left corner with a superb long ball. Zakuani proceeded to simply abuse RSL defender Tony Beltran, turning him the wrong way before flicking in a cross that an onrushing Nate Jaqua bundled into the net with his knee.

Salt Lake continued to pressure, though Seattle had by now the better of the possession and territory. In particular, the midfield battles were chippy. RSL’s Kyle Beckerman and Javi Morales, along with Alonso, picked up cautions inside of 25 minutes. Salt Lake no doubt had game tape of the magical Montero, as they were playing him extremely physically. The hulking RSL defender (and fellow Colombian) Jamison Olave was tasked with marking the quicker Montero. This led to many fouls and a yellow to Olave just before the halftime whistle. Despite the pressure, Montero was still able to be an influence on the game, and pulled off a few jaw-dropping moves with his superior ball control.

After the break Salt Lake seemed like a different team. Movsisyan broke free for a 1-on-1 with Keller, but was denied with a quality save and Clint Mathis, in excellent form on the night, missed with his follow. In the 60th minute more pressure led to a close shot from Morales, blocked only by a sliding Tyrone Marshall. Seattle’s designated player Freddie Ljungberg was brought on moments later to raucous applause, but it couldn’t change the momentum. The best RSL chance would come 6 minutes later. Good buildup led to another Morales shot being blocked by either John Hurtado or Marshall (both were making last-ditch tackles) and the follow fell kindly to Movsisyan, 12 yards out with Keller helpless. But the Salt Lake striker somehow conspired to hit his shot directly into the turf, bouncing and barely going over the crossbar. With so much RSL pressure, including seemingly endless corner kicks, Qwest Field became a nervous buzz. Seattle surely couldn’t hold this one-goal lead the whole game, could they?

As it turned out, they didn’t have to. In the 77th minute, Alonso, who had an outstanding game, won a ball in his own half, collected and eventually gave to Montero. The RSL defenders then made a mistake no MLS team will make again – giving Fredy Montero time and space with the ball. Montero obliged, and from at least 25 yards out, hit a swerving, knuckling shot that completely bamboozled keeper Nick Rimando on its way into the back of the net. Qwest erupted, the Sounders danced in celebration, and all the momentum Salt Lake had been building was completely gone. The remaining 12 minutes passed in relatively quiet fashion, and when the final whistle blew Seattle had a victory, six points in two games, and were for the moment the best team in MLS.

Sounders Player Ratings

Kasey Keller – 8 Came up with some very big saves, but just as important, he dealt ably with all of RSL’s 12 corner kicks. Very impressive.

James Riley – 5 Pretty mediocre defensively. Was good going forward, but gave the ball away in dangerous positions and was beaten multiple times.

Tyrone Marshall – 6.5 Jeff Parke who? Marshall won tons of balls in the air and performed well, although he couldn’t always keep up with Movsisyan.

Jhon Hurtado – 6 Worked well in tandem with Marshall. During the second half he was forced to scramble on defense, but he didn’t make any glaring errors.

Zack Scott – 4 Ick. He gets this rating basically because he made Clint Mathis look like an all-star. He kept getting sucked in to the middle, so when RSL switched the ball they could attack on his flank.

Osvaldo Alonso – 8 Won tons of tackles, started tons of offensive breaks, including those that led to both goals. His relentless physical play largely neutralized Morales in the midfield. For my money, the best player on the pitch.

Brad Evans – 6 Was mostly called on to defend, especially in the second half, but he did have a few good probing runs forward. He influences the game in ways not easily seen.

Steve Zakuani – 7 Surprised me, honestly. Until he got subbed out, he made poor Tony Beltran look silly every time he got the ball.

Sebastien Le Toux – 6.5 Much better than last week. He was frequently making dangerous runs, pressuring the defense. Looked more comfortable when switched to forward late in the second half.

Fredy Montero – 7 A poor game by his incredibly lofty standards. Quality in the first half under pressure. For most of the second half, he did little, tried to make passes that were too tricky and wasn’t really hustling. Right up until his wonder goal, that is.

Nate Jaqua – 5.5 Very good winning balls in the air, as most 6’4” forwards tend to be. His goal was a bit lucky going in off his knee. Played hard but was totally out of gas after about 55 minutes and had to be subbed off.

Freddy Ljungberg (sub) – 6 Didn’t have a huge impact on the game, although his introduction calmed the Sounders down a bit. In his 30 minutes he showed good touches and passing, though… the skill and quality is still there.

Nate Sturgis
(sub) – 5 Played a fairly anonymous 20 minutes. It seemed like he was almost on the wing, maybe not his normal position.

Roger Levesque (sub) – Played about a minute and I don’t think he touched the ball.

2 Comments For This Post

  1. SounderSteve Says:

    This is great. In our first two teams we have resoundingly defeated last year's Western Conference finalists. And we haven't given up a goal!

  2. SalsaShark Says:

    I think Jaqua's presence is deceptively vital to the team's attack. They struggled to get anything going during the second half with his absence.

2 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Sounders 2, RSL 0 image gallery | Seattle Sounders @ American Soccer News Says:

    […] crowd once more urging their heroes on to victory. This time, Real Salt Lake were the victims. You read the match report. Now check out the photos, courtesy of ASN’s Julia Fizer. [View with PicLens] […]

  2. Revenge at the RioT? | American Soccer News Says:

    […] Western Conference battle this Saturday as Real Salt Lake (6-8-5, 23 pts.) look to avenge their early-season loss to Seattle Sounders FC (7-4-8, 29 pts.) and gain much needed ground in the playoff race. It will be the first of two […]

Leave a Reply

Advertise Here
Advertise Here