Real Salt Lake gutted out a 3-2 aggregate goal victory over the Seattle Sounders Wednesday.
The side fell Wednesday 2-0, but won by virtue of its three-goal margin obtained in a victory over Seattle last weekend.
“Unbelievable battle for everybody,” defender Chris Wingert said. “I hate to say it, but you almost know its going to be like that.”
Salt Lake was able to hold on and get the victory in spite of adverse weather, field conditions, and injuries.
“The entire night was a difficult night,” coach Jason Kreis said. “It was a choppy game, which doesn‘t help us to gain any kind of rhythm.”
Seattle controlled the run of play in the first half, out-shooting Salt Lake 15-1; however, no goals were able to get into the net.
Seattle had its first chance in the 2nd minute when Nick Rimando had to dive through traffic to stop a cross from being redirected on frame.
Seattle nearly scored in the 36th minute when Rimando charged to punch out service and the net was left open for a Sounders shot. Jeff Parke fired directly on frame, but Tony Beltran headed it over the bar.
Salt Lake countered with a chance in the 40th minute when Saborio’s sliding service nearly found Fabian Espindola behind the defensive line; however, Parke made a sliding tackle and put the ball out of bounds.
Seattle appeared to score in the 43rd minute when Freddy Montero backed into Nick Rimando, knocked him over, took the ball and fired it into the net. However, the referee issued a foul on Montero and the goal did not stand.
The first half ended with Salt Lake fortunate to get away without giving up a score. However, the side would not be so lucky in the second half.
Seattle’s Michael Fucito earned a penalty kick in the 55th minute when he was pulled down in the box by Tony Beltran. Osvaldo Alonso converted and brought the Sounders within two.
Lamar Neagle made it a one score contest in the 61st minute when he took a pass from Montero, fired across Rimando and found the corner of the net.
Kreis made the gutsiest decision of the season in the 76th minute, bringing in Yordany Alvarez for Alvaro Saborio and going to a 4-5-1. Potentially facing extra time and a shoot-out, pulling his best striker was a tough call, especially that early.
Fabian Espindola got freed on a break by Morales in the 79th minute and nearly ended the match. He went one-on-one with Keller and nearly scored; however, the United States’ legendary keeper was able to make one last diving save.
Kreis doubled down on his Saborio decision by pulling Javier Morales in 89th minute.
Salt Lake parried chance after chance, even holding on for over 5 minutes of extra time, before the final whistle sounded. The result was a 3-2 aggregate victory and a spot in the Western Conference finals.
Man of the Match
Tony Beltran made a huge save off the line. He is the man of the match.
With Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers unavailable due to injury, Jason Kreis innovated at Centerback:
- FORWARD: Saborio, Espindola (76’ Y. Alvarez for Saborio)
- MIDFIELD: Beckerman, Johnson, Williams, Morales (57’ Grabavoy for Williams) (89’ Gil for Morales)
- DEFENSE: Russell, Schuler, Wingert, Beltran
- KEEPER: Rimando
Category: Game Review