This match lived up to the hype
The Battle for Western Conference Supremacy ended with Seattle taking the series 2-1 at CenturyLink Field last Friday. This possible postseason preview ended with a 3-2 victory for the Sounders after Andy Rose's dramatic stoppage time game winner. Many people were expecting fireworks going into the match, and that is what this match produced.
The match was strongly contested from the first whistle. Although away from the confines of Rio Tinto, Real Salt Lake was able to maintain a lion's share of the possession and many good scoring opportunities in the first half. This later switched when in the second half Seattle was able to possess the ball and the offensive juggernaut which is the Sounders make Rimando come up with six saves on the night.
RSL went into Seattle and despite the loss looked strong. Javier Morales finished the night with one goal and one assist, a big night for any player but especially big on the road and in Seattle, that also tied his career high of eight goals in a season. At the age of 34, RSL still is reaping the rewards of the savvy attacking midfielder.
Seattle finished the match with 22 shots. Despite playing a man down for 25 minutes, Real Salt Lake's defense looked strong for the entire match registering six blocked shots. RSL worked hard in defense and it showed off.
And if the on-field fireworks were not enough for the casual fan, the literal fireworks after Seattle's goals would most certainly entertain.
Osvaldo Alonso is a friend to the RSL offense
For the second straight match against RSL, Ozzie Alonso was directly involved in a goal scored, and for the second straight time it was against his club.
On August 16 at the RioT, Luis Gil — playing at the top of the midfield diamond — was able to cut the ball into the Seattle box to the onrushing Luke Mulholland. Luke took a shot and was put into the back of the net by a deflection off of Alonso. It was first deemed an own-goal but the credit was later given to the hard work of Gil and Mulholland.
In last Friday's match, RSL was able to rely on the skill of Alonso once more. Real Salt Lake won a corner kick in the 49th minute of play that was played short to Plata. Plata and Morales exchanged the ball on the side of Seattle's penalty area until Plata was able to let rip a shot that deflected off the head of Ozzie Alonso and the far post — just past the outreached arms of Stefan Frei — until finally bouncing into the net for an RSL equalizer.
As RSL is looking into winning future matches against the Sounders the easiest way might be to play the ball to Alonso in his own box — something I hope to see in the Western Conference Final.
Chris Schuler deserves a USMNT call-up
If you were listening to the commentary during the match made by RSL's own Brian Dunseth you too believe that Real Salt Lake's go-to defender is going to be the next player to break out with the USMNT.
Chris Schuler started his 23rd match for RSL this season, surpassing his previous record of 16. This is somewhat of a pinnacle of playing performance capping what can only be described as an injury-riddled couple of years.
Two seasons ago, RSL traded Jamison Olave to the New York Red Bulls knowing that Schuler was ready to fill his shoes and fill his shoes he has. The dominating presence of the 6-foot-4 defender lead RSL to their second MLS Cup last year.
During an impassioned speech about the RSL starlet, Dunseth said, "He's staying fit and focused and in my opinion he is a guy who should be called up to the US Men's National Team in January." - A sentiment echoed by fellow commentator JP Dellacamera. During the last World Cup cycle MLS defenders Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez got their big breaks and if Schuler keeps up his performances like he did during this match against Seattle, no one would argue that he is not a world-class defender. This can be supported by Schuler ability to contain Obafemi Martins for most of the game, and making him practically disappear after Borchers' red card.
Bonus Discussion Topic: Conceding fouls
It is a highly debatable topic when and when not to concede a foul, especially a foul that results in a red card. The incident involving Nat Borchers is no different when referee Kevin Stott showed the RSL defender a red card.
In this match the RSL defender was shown a straight red after he denied Martins a clear goal-scoring opportunity in the 68th minute. The lead up to the foul was created when Brad Evans feed a ball to the sprinting, on-sides Martin in a breakaway play. Borchers was unable to catch the speedy Nigerian and was forced to make a decision. Borchers committed the professional foul by pulling down the Seattle striker just outside the penalty box.
When the ref blew Borchers did not even argue the foul but just insisted that the foul was not a penalty as well — avoiding the double-whammy.
In my opinion, Borchers did what he had in order to keep RSL in this match in a very hostile, loud environment and avoid a possible penalty call. What do you think?