Seattle flew into Salt Lake to take on a Real Salt Lake team that owned a 29-game home unbeaten streak. Not only that, RSL had only given up two goals total all season.
Considering the injuries and lack of offensive firepower overall, things were not looking good for the Sounders. Bucket loads of rain pouring down didn’t help improve the outlook but it seemed like a death blow in the 18th minute when midfielder Alvaro Fernandez had to come off the field with a hamstring injury.
Both teams worked hard but the score was still 0-0 at the half. At the 58th minute, that all changed as Sounders forward Michael Fucito got behind RSL defender Jamison Olave. Olave showed how closely soccer and rugby are related by clinically taking down Fucito just outside the box.
Referee Mark Kadlecik had spent most of the night warning both teams that they were just a step away from a card, but he did not hesitate to reach into his back pocket for a red one for Olave. I know some, mostly RSL fans, would say it should have been yellow at most but I played rugby for 15 years and I rarely had a tackle that good. If that wasn’t a red card offense then I have no idea what should be a red card offense.
Down to 10 men, RSL dropped a forward to add a defender to the backline and hoped to continue its unbeaten home and 400-minute shutout streak.
At that point, the Sounders’ Tyson Wahl sent a corner kick into the center of the box that Nate Jaqua was able to head down. The ball deflected off of Fredy Montero’s leg to Patrick Ianni, who was able to poke it into the net from a yard out.
That goal, from the unlikely scorer to the pinball bounces that have eluded the Sounders all season, ended the RSL shutout streak. It put a crack in its unbeaten home streak as well.
That wall came crashing down in the 84th minute when Seattle’s Lamar Neagle, a northwest native boy, got the first MLS goal of his career to up the lead to 2-0. Neagle got the ball with some open space 20 yards out and uncorked a beauty of a shot that crashed off the crossbar and into the net.
Those two goals, in a 13-minute span, doubled the total amount of goals RSL had given up so far this season. It also put Seattle in cruise control for a short time, until RSL got one back in the 88th minute on a great individual goal by Nelson Gonzales.
A frantic finish and some great saves by Kasey Keller finished the demolition of Real Salt Lake and gave Seattle the full 3 points, taking away the horrible taste of the loss to FC Dallas at home in the previous game.
Man of the Match:
I’m holding the honor for local boy Lamar Neagle. He came on as a sub for the injured Alvaro Fernandez and took advantage of the opportunity. His shot from just outside the box reminded me of the one Lionel Messi (of Barcelona) buried against Manchester United earlier in the day in the UEFA Championship.
With all of the injuries, Seattle needs everything they can get from everyone. Taking advantage of the playing time chances will give players like Neagle more chances.
Seattle is now 5-4-5 with 20 points and alone in third place in the Western Conference. They continue their road trip by traveling to Chicago and take on the Fire on Saturday.
Image credits: Mike Terry/Getty Images