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Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders (a closer look-despite Comcast)

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So I have to admit I find great humor in Comcast being a partner of Real Salt Lake, along with KUTV and their little station KUSG.  First Comcast and KUSG screw up their program guide so badly that nobody can tell the match is being broadcast, instead they seen normal programming on channel 111, which is 2.2 or KUTV2.  Then Comcast screws up the Direct Kick package, last year it took 4 calls to get it set up right, this year it took 3 and then the schedule is wrong andthe book the New England Revolution match over the top of the RSL match, so I get to start my recorded copy of the match in the 24th minute.  Thank you Comcast, yes you will be going away very soon from my house.

So that means that minutes 0-10 and 10-20 will be from my memory at the match, something I try to avoid doing on my detailed look at the matches.  When taking pictures on the sidelines (I hope you like them) you tend to only focus on where the ball is and that creates a version of tunnel vision that impacts your overall perspective on the match, anyhow here I go:

0-10 minutes:

Lineups - SEA - Keller, Gonzalez, Marshall, Hurtado, Riley, Zakuani, Olanso, Evans, Ljungberg, Montero, and Evans

RSL - Rimando, Wingert, Borchers, Olave, Russell, Johnson, Beckerman, Morales, Grabavoy, Findley, and Espindola

After the prematch festivities were over it was on to the matter at hand for both teams, RSL looked a bit "nervous-or hyper" from all the energy and excitement of the rings, banners, and such.  Passes went a bit long and players looked to be almost trying to hard for the spectacular, but it was clear that they meant to take the match to Seattle and they pressed hard and fast with the back 4 moving into the midfield to apply added pressure to the Sounders.


Both sides were playing lineups meant to be offensive minded, but early on most of the action was confined to the south end of the stadium as Real Salt Lake did a nice job in keeping the ball in the Sounders half of the pitch.

The rest of the match after the jump:

10-20 minutes

So right as the clock hit 10 minutes a Sounders free kick was taken and the ball played to Montero who quickly spotted a wide open Zakuani left unmarked by the RSLdefense, he played a great ball and it left for Steve who was one on one with Rimandowho made a valiant effort but the ball found the back of the net and the Sounders were off the a start that left a bitter taste in the mouth of the fans at Rio Tinto Stadium.

RSL were quick to react to the goal and kept the pressure up and in the 15th minute they were able to get a corner kick and the ball bounced around the area but nobody was able to get a quality touch on it and as it was cleared to the top of the box, it was Fabi who tried to play it back into a dangerous position but it was cleared out by the Sounders.

As the clock got close to 20:00 the home side again was threatening and after weaving his way through several green clad defenders Javier Morales played a great ball that found the head of Robbie Findley, but it was just wide of the goal and out for a Seattle goal kick.

20-30 minutes

RSLhas kept the pressure up with most of the first 20 minutes being played in the Sounders half of the pitch, Seattle would counter from time to time but RSL almost always regained possession.  A nice run from Fabi saw him play a ball to Robbie but before he could play the ball back to Fabi the offside flag was raised and the ball went back over to Seattle.

While many of the RSL passes were a bit strong they did a nice job of moving the ball and forcing Seattle to chase the ball, it was nice to see RSLusing their width to create chances.  A Fabicross attempt ended with the 3rd RSL corner of the night, Javi played the ball in and in a rare case he failed to clear the first defender. A Sounders goal kick almost went astray as it was played back in and Robbie Findley was closing in on it quickly but Keller got to it first as the clock moves to the 30thminute with the score 1-0 Seattle.

30-40 minutes

I am a bit amazed at how high the RSL defense has been playing for most of the match, and how good of a job RSL is doing closing in on Seattle when they get the ball.  A great effort by Johnson gets him running at the Sounders defense as he is taken down by Marshall and RSL gets a free kick from about 15 yards outside of the box.  Javi lines up to take it, but the shot is right into the wall and the Sounders try to counter but Montero is fouled to slow down the Sounders. 

RSL again gets the ball back as Beckerman intercepts a Sounders pass and RSL again are on the attack, a hard foul on Grabavoy as Williams is warming up as it appears that Morales has hurt himself (we find out later it was a groin injury).  Kyle again interrupts a pass but the Sounders find a way to get it back, I have to say I was a bit puzzled why in the first 35 minutes of the match that Ljungberg has had so few touches of the ball. 

In the 36th minute it is Andy Williams entering for Javier Morales, the Sounders take advantage of the change to get one of the better chances in the RSLend but eventually the ball goes out of bounds and RSLagain is building their attack.  A few good passes and RSLis again threatening with men in the box and Sounders put it out for another RSL corner kick.  Johnson takes the kick and it is a good one but cleared out by Seattle but it goes out at midfield and the ball is back in the possession of RSL.

40-halftime

So if I had to pick a man of the match for RSL in the first half it would be Ned, who simply was everywhere and causing chaos for the Seattle midfield and playing good balls into dangerous positions.  A hard tackle by Alonso has Ned down as he got kicked over the ball, it should be a card but instead we have a injured RSL player on the pitch.  So with just a couple minutes left in the half RSL has once again had two players injured, Ned is back on the pitch but it is clear that he can't go much longer and he is probably trying to just get out of the half.  The 4th official indicates 2 minutes of stoppage time, the Sounders attack as RSL is a bit wobbly, they get a corner and Freddie will take it.  He plays a good ball it but it is cleared out by Will, cleared into the 10th row at midfield, and a race between Fabi and a couple Sounder defenders is close but the ball is cleared back into the RSL half of the pitch, but RSL keeps possession.  A great effort by Johnson to keep the ball in play, and the whistle blows for halftime as it ends 1-0 on the Zakuani goal.

Halftime thoughts

RSL controlled much of the match so far, but it was the mistake of leaving a player open and it came back to bite RSL as Robbie Russell couldn't get back quick enough to stop the attempt on goal.  OK I don't like the home kits as much as I do the new road whites

45-55 minutes

Well the injury to Ned Grabavoy has forced RSL's second change of the night, with Nelson Gonzalez coming in for him, the injury is a knee injury.  Wow that change is making a huge difference, they create a quick early chance deep in the Sounders box but they were unable to get a quality shot off.  Another great play as Fabi plays it all the way across the pitch to Nelson who then plays it to Johnson.  A change for Seattle Wahl comes in for Gonzalez.

RSL needs to pay attention as they are allowing Seattle to challenge them in their own half of the pitch, it looks like the Sounders are trying to really push hard to get a second goal.  A nice ball played into the area by Beckerman for Gonzalez but it is cleared out for the 5th RSL corner of the night Nelson takes it but he fails to clear the first man but it clearly hits the arm of a Sounder player before it clears the box, but Abbey misses the call.  Seattle counters and gets into the RSL box but RSL gets possession back and is back on the attack in the Sounders half of the pitch.  Russell plays a great ball into the box, and it finds the head of a diving Will Johnson and it goes past Keller and he jumps the wall to celebrate with the fans.  We are now tied at 1-1, in the 54th minute of the match, Freddie attacks but it is forced out by Wingert but a Sounders corner kick which clears most of the people in the box and a hand ball is called against Seattle.

55-65 minutes

The replay shows that the call for a handball on the RSL corner a few minutes ago was fairly clear as Ljungberg should have been called on it, and where he was it would have been a PK, so Seattle dodges a bullet.  A dirty hard foul from behind on Fabian Espindola, who is left in a ball on the pitch and no matter how much Dunny defends him, it was a hard foul that deserved the call.  Nelson takes the free kick and it just misses Borchers,  RSL tries to get back into the Seattle end of the pitch but the offside flag goes up.

Seattle is now playing a bit more aggressive as their lead is gone, as the clock hits 60 and we are tied up at 1-1.  Wingert gets a yellow card for a foul on Ljungberg, and the Sounders get a set piece at the midfield stripe.  RSL is really doing a good job of pressuring the ball, and Gonzalez does a nice job of winning a ball from Ljungberg and the counter attack is on.  A couple nice passes but James Riley steps in front of one and breaks up that attack, but RSL are still doing a good job of maintaining possession.

Olave is down on the pitch as it appears that he has had his foot stepped on in the run of play, but it looks like he is going to try to walk it off on the sidelines.  OK, on a side note away from the match, I have to give credit to Dunny (Brian Dunseth) who is doing a damm fine job on the play by play tonight and has taken a bigger role with FSC, well done.

65-75 minutes

Wow a long ball by Williams and Robbie is running onto it but a great play by Hurtado puts it out for the 6th corner of the night, cleared out and when Andy tries to play it back in, it goes out of bounds and lands on the top of the net for another Sounder goal kick.  After a couple passes RSL steals it back and another long ball to Findley and he gets it in the corner and a foul by Hurtado and the following ball played by Wingert goes over everyone and back over to Seattle.

RSL give up a set piece and it is played in by Ljungberg but out by Olave but the Sounders keep the ball and then another whistle as Andy commits the foul, this is a more dangerous position about 10 yards off to the side of the box.  Again it is Ljungberg over it, a nice ball and it goes into the back of the net, not sure if it is Marshall or Borchers, no it is Borchers who heads it into his own net, and the Sounders are back in front 2-1 in the 72nd minute and the Sounders fans who made the trip down are celebrating.

A foul on Findley, gives RSL a free kick from 20 yards outside of the area and Will Johnson will take this one, but his shot goes over the wall, the goal andout for a goal kick.  Seattle makes their second change as Montero goes out and Sturgis comes in in the 74th minute.  It is nice to see Sturgis healthy and playing well again.

75-85 minutes

RSL is still on the attack and the ball was played into the area and almost goes in for an own goal but eventually it goes out for another Sounder goal kick.  That goes out and back to RSL, and Williams gets roughed up and gives up the ball but he gets back up and ends up stealing it back and RSL is working to build up their attack again.  I love the mention that RSL had 17 goals last year in the last 15 minutes of matches, they will need one again if they are going to get a result in this one.

A couple more changes are coming as RSL will bring in Saborio for Findley, and Seattle will bring in Levesque for Zakuani, RSL makes a offensive change and Seattle makes a more defensive minded change.  RSL is still on the attack and a foul on Andy give RSL a set piece again from about 25 yards outside of the box, it is played in by Williams but it does a bit of pinball and ends up coming out on a Seattle counter, broken up and RSL counter on their own and a ball in by Fabi finds the head of Saborio but it goes just wide of the net.

RSL is pushing hard to get back into the position to get a result in this one and you can tell that the Sounders are bunkering a bit but still looking to counter when they can.  A bad turnover in the midfield by RSL but they recover and clear it back out to the midfield, RSL seem to know where the passes are going before the Sounders do.  Another good ball into the box by Fabian but it is cleared to the midfield but RSL keep possession until a foul is called and Seatlle look to get something going. 

85-final

RSL is doing a nice job of trying to get a goal to equal the score, a nice shot from 10 yards outside of the box by Russell, but Keller can keep it but RSL ends up getting another corner kick as the Seattle clearance fails to keep the ball.  Nelson will take this one, into the box but headed out by Seattle, but RSL keeps the ball and win another corner kick from the other side and Andy will take this one. 

RSL keeps the ball and eventually it is played into the area but a whistle blows and Olave is called for a foul because he "looks guilty"  the fans are starting to really get loud to support the home side as the clock gets closer andcloser to 90:00.  RSL is frantic to get the ball back so they can try to create something, they are playing a lot of long balls right now vs. trying to build something up the middle but it is tough as Seattle has 9-10 men back.  RSL gets their 9th corner of the night as the clock is almost at 90, it goes out for another one, Johnson takes this one but it fails to clear the first man but RSL keep the ball.  4 minutes of stoppage time, a good play by Riley gets the ball back to Seattle as the clock moves past 90:00.

Seattle turns it over in their own half of the pitch, Espindola goes down easy, RSL keeps the ball and a long ball is just out of the reach of Johnson.  We are in the second minute of stoppage time as RSL try to find a way to get the ball back from Seattle so they can try to get the equalizer.  Finally they do, and now they look to build as everyone is moving forward a deep throw in for RSL, Fabi plays it in and Keller catches it but fails to keep it in.  Neslon will take the 11th RSL corner of the night, a great ball in that looks like it takes a slight bounce off Olave's head on it's way to Saborio who heads it past Keller and into the back of the net to tie the match up 2-2.  The team and fans go wild in celebration as RSL continue their ways of being able to score late goals.

Well just seconds after the goal, the final whistle blows and RSL have continued a couple of streaks by getting a draw. First is the fact that they haven't lost in 14 matches at home, and they have never lost a home opener.  This leaves both RSL and Seattle tied in the table with 1-1-1 records.

It was impressive to see RSL battle back to get the result, they were the better team for most of the match and a home loss would have been an injustice given the effort.

OFF MY SOAPBOX