Seattle Sounders made it three wins in a row against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night at CenturyLink Field. It was not a game of high quality from either side, with the grueling schedule clearly starting to catch up to the players. However, goals from Jordan Morris and Yeimar Gomez proved too much for Salt Lake, with their goal coming from an unfortunate defensive mistake from Nouhou Tolo.
Story of the match
The first half started with both sides trying to break the deadlock, but without any joy. It was Morris who scored the opening goal of the game after Cristian Roldan's superb cross on 28 minutes. Will Bruin let the ball run through his legs and Morris made no mistake from six yards out, ghosting in from the left hand side for his second goal in as many games. That's how it stood at half time with neither side creating any real chances.
The Sounders created far more chances after the break, and they almost went 2-0 up when Nicolas Loderio's superb cross was met by Roldan, who just couldn't direct his shot on target. However, the Sounders got their reward for their hard work in the 61st minute. Yeimar Gomez scored to double their lead. Lodeiro's curling free kick was met by Gomez, who made no mistake from six yards to make it 2-0.
However, when Maikel Chang's cross was turned into his own net by Nouhou Tolo soon after, the game was set up for a grandstand finish. It wasn't to be, however, as Seattle held on comfortably for their third win in a row and they sit top of the Western Conference with a three point gap over the Portland Timbers.
Takeaways from the match
This was a game where quality was at a premium, and it was two key players that created the chances in an otherwise uninspiring game. Both Cristian Roldan and Nicolas Loderio were the architects of the Sounders' goals, with the former providing the assist with the opening goal and the latter providing an inch perfect free kick to be headed into the net with ease. Seattle just seem to be able to keep winning - even when they don't play particularly well.
Real Salt Lake will feel aggrieved by poor defending that contributed to both goals. The inability to follow their men and to give the Sounders players space to attack the ball and score pretty much unchallenged is something they need to work on if they are to kick on and move away from mid-table mediocrity this season. They currently sit on 18 points having only won four games this season - a statistic that puts only DC United and FC Cincinnati below them in terms of games won. Plenty of other sides have only won four games too - Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy and Inter Miami to name a few - but it certainly seems to be a frustrating season for the Utah side.
This was definitely a game that defenders stood out in and no more so than Yeimar Gomez for the Sounders. He took his goal extremely well and showed calmness as he just guided the ball into the net to put Seattle two up on the night. He was also solid defensively - only Tolo's own goal sullied the Sounders' defensive record, and this was not a goal that could be attributed to Gomez's mistakes or positioning.
Seattle Sounders FC: Stefan Frei; Kelvin Leerdam (Alex Roldan 86’), Yeimar Gomez, Shane O’Neill, Nouhou Tolo (Roman Torres 86’); Jordy Delem, Joao Paulo, Cristian Roldan, Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris; Will Bruin (Brad Smith 64’).
Subs not used: Stefan Cleveland, Handwalla Bwana, Shandon Hopeau, Joshua Atencio, Justin Dhillon.
Real Salt Lake: Andrew Putna; Aaron Herrera (Justin Meram 86’), Nick Besler, Erik Holt, Justen Glad; Kyle Beckerman (Jeizon Ramirez 86’), Justin Portillo; Corey Baird (Maikel Chang 66’), Pablo Ruiz, Tate Schmitt; Sam Johnson (Douglas Martinez 66’)
Subs not used: Zac MacMath, Marcelo Silva, Donny Toia, Milan Iloski