SEATTLE – Real Salt Lake (17-11-5, 56 points, West #2) inched closer to clinching a top-three seed in the Western Conference on Wednesday night, playing 10-man Seattle Sounders FC (14-7-11, 53 points, West #3) to a 0-0 draw at CenturyLink Field. RSL now needs just one point in its MLS regular season finale against Vancouver at Rio Tinto Stadium on Oct. 27 to clinch a top-three seed in the West and avoid the 4-v-5 seed knockout game. The second-place Claret-and-Cobalt – which leads third-place Seattle by three points and fourth-place L.A. by six points – would also seal a top-three spot with a L.A. loss or tie in either of its final two games.
The first half of Wednesday’s game was played at a quick pace, with both teams getting up the field and creating chances fairly regularly. Seattle had the first opportunity, nearly going ahead in the seventh minute. MF Christian Tiffert created the chance, running onto a through ball on RSL’s end line before lofting a cross to FW Fredy Montero at the back post that RSL MF Luis Gil athletically headed away. Seattle and RSL traded half-chances in the 14th and 15th minutes, but the next real opportunity didn’t come until the 22nd minute. Sounders FC FW Sammy Ochoa had the look, rising over RSL DF Tony Beltran at the left post and heading an early cross high and wide of the goal.
Things changed in the 30th minute, when RSL went up a man after Seattle DF Zach Scott was shown his second yellow card for a foul on Claret-and-Cobalt MF Javier Morales. Scott’s ejection – he picked up his first yellow for a foul on FW Fabian Espindola in the 10th – prompted Seattle to bring on DF Mike Seamon for Ochoa, changing Sounders FC from a 4-4-2 to a 4-4-1 formation.
Despite playing up a man and holding the majority of possession, RSL couldn’t quite create a clear cut chance in the remaining 15 minutes of the first half. Seattle, on the other hand, had several decent looks, with its best opportunity coming on a PK shout in stoppage time. Sounders FC wanted Beltran whistled for a hand ball in the box, but replays showed that the right back had his arm tucked into his chest before it was struck by a Montero shot.
Real Salt Lake made one change at the break, bringing on DF Chris Schuler for DF Jamison Olave, who strained his hamstring late in the first half. RSL had a good look at goal just three minutes into the second frame. Morales had the chance, picking up a loose ball 25 yards out in the middle of the field before hitting a hard shot at goal that Sounders FC GK Michael Gspurning did well to tip over the bar.
Despite Morales’ early chance, Seattle had the better of the play for the first 20 minutes of the second half. Sounders FC had a good chance in the 52nd minute, when MF Mauro Rosales picked up a loose clearance in the box following a corner kick and fired a curling left footer just wide of the far post from the right side of the box.
RSL settled things down around the 65th, controlling more of the game, dictating the tempo and pushing for a goal. The concerted effort to go forward led to a RSL chacne in the 75th minute. RSL captain Kyle Beckerman had the look, collecting a ball in the middle of the field, cutting to his left foot and ripping a 25-yard just over the bar.
The Claret-and-Cobalt had an even better look in the 83rd minute. Beltran had the chance, combining with Espindola at the top of the box to get in on goal before firing a contested shot at Gspurning. RSL kept pushing for a goal and nearly found the winner on two separate occasions in stoppage time. Schuler had the first look. The big central defender latched onto a ball in the right side of the box and hit a hard left-footer on goal, forcing Gspurning into a fine diving parry.
Substitute MF Sebastian Velasquez came even closer seconds later, collecting MF Jonny Steele’s layoff eight yards out and firing a low left-footer to the near post. Gspurning got his body in front of the shot but didn’t hold the ball and the rebound was inches away from sneaking inside the right bar.
Real Salt Lake next plays on Tuesday, Oct. 23, when it will host Costa Rican champs C.S. Herediano in a must-win CONCACAF Champions League match at Rio Tinto Stadium. Tickets for that game – as well as RSL’s regular season finale and home playoff games – are currently on sale and can be purchased online at RealSaltLake.com, at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office or by calling (801) 727-2700.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 0:0 SEA
• RSL is now on a five-game unbeaten streak and is 6-1-2 in its last nine across all competitions. The Claret-and-Cobalt has only conceded three goals in 810 minutes over those same nine games.
• RSL was playing without leading-scorer Alvaro Saborio and regular MF Will Johnson on Wednesday night. Both players played 90 minutes for their respective national teams in World Cup Qualifiers in Central America on Tuesday.
• Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman and GK Nick Rimando both started and played the full 90 minutes on Wednesday, one day after both were on the gameday roster for the U.S.’s 3-1 World Cup Qualifying win over Guatemala in Kansas City. The pair – along with Seattle FW Eddie Johnson, who didn’t play on Wednesday – flew from Kansas City to Seattle on a private jet chartered by RSL ownership immediately after Tuesday’s game.
• RSL FW Paulo Jr. was a late scratch on Wednesday due to a foot injury suffered in training on Tuesday. FW Emiliano Bonfigli started in his play – it was Bonfigli’s first MLS start and 10th MLS appearance.
• RSL MF David Viana made his MLS debut on Wednesday night, coming on in the 82nd minute for MF Luis Gil. Viana signed with RSL on Sept. 15.
• Seattle DF Zach Scott’s 30th minute red card put RSL up a man for the first time since Portland MF Diego Chara was shown a late red during the Claret-and-Cobalt’s 3-0 win over the Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 7.
• Real Salt Lake next plays on Tuesday, Oct. 23, when it will host Costa Rican champs C.S. Herediano in a must-win CONCACAF Champions League match at Rio Tinto Stadium. Tickets for that game – as well as RSL’s regular season finale and home playoff games – are currently on sale and can be purchased online at RealSaltLake.com, at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office or by calling (801) 727-2700.
REAL SALT LAKE 0:0 SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2012
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 0 0 0
Seattle Sounders FC 0 0 0
Scoring Summary: No goals
Misconduct Summary: SEA – Zach Scott (Foul) – 10’
SEA – Zach Scott (Foul, Ejected) – 30’
RSL – Tony Beltran (Foul) – 45 + 1’
RSL – Chris Schuler (Foul) – 51’
SEA – Christian Tiffert (Persistent Infringement) – 67’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2) – Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave (Chris Schuler, 46’), Nat Borchers, Chris; Kyle Beckerman (c); Luis Gil (David Viana, 82’), Jonny Steele; Javier Morales; Fabian Espindola, Emiliano Bonfigli (Sebastian Velasquez, 71’)
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish (GK), Yordany Alvarez, Kenny Mansally, Enzo Martinez
Seattle Sounders FC (4-4-2) – Michael Gspurning; Brad Evans, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott, Marc Burch; Mauro Rosales (c) (Alex Caskey, 80’), Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, Christian Tiffert; Fredy Montero (David Estrada, 76’), Sammy Ochoa (Mike Seamon, 39’)
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann (GK), Servando Carrasco, Cordell Cato, Jhon Kennnedy Hurtado
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: Corey Rockwell, Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger