Real Salt Lake 2 vs. Seattle Sounders FC 0
August 22, 2015; Rio Tinto Stadium
Real Salt Lake (8-10-8, 32 points); Seattle Sounders FC (11-13-2, 35 points)
Man of the Match: When a team bounces back from disappointment like RSL experienced last week with a stoppage-time loss at home against the Portland Timbers to conclude a 1-4-0 stretch in 15 days, Real Salt Lake turned to its captain to help lead the way back to form and Kyle Beckerman ensured that RSL would turn the corner and earn a result against a team in Seattle that had a dominating performance one week earlier. He had a season-high 96 touches and tied for the team lead with two shots on goal for the match all while playing an integral role in limiting Seattle to just one shot on goal.
Telling Stat: Five times this season, RSL has allowed just one shot on goal. In those matches, RSL is 2-1-2 with four shutouts – the lone goal coming in a 1-0 defeat to Vancouver. Against a team like Seattle that can score in bunches when the first goal comes, limiting them to one shot on goal was crucial. Obafemi Martins, Seattle’s top scorer with nine goals in 13 matches, was limited to just 40 touches in the match – the fewest he’s had in a full match this season one week after he scored twice in a 4-0 win over Orlando.
What You Missed: Juan Manuel Martinez was on the bench for RSL less than 36 hours after landing in Salt Lake City on Friday. The club’s newest Designated Player was available for Head Coach Jeff Cassar, but he ultimately decided on other substitute options in part to get him involved with the team without risking injury after a 17-hour travel day. He will join the team for training this week and could feature next week in a road contest against FC Dallas.
So What: With now just three points separating RSL from the sixth and final playoff spot, now occupied by Seattle and the San Jose Earthquakes, Salt Lake has displayed what it’s nearly full-strength team can accomplish. RSL put out virtually the strongest lineup it has had all season, with just Chris Schuler out of the lineup due to injury. With that type of performance from that group, it can do nothing but instill confidence after a shaky couple of weeks to start the month of August.