Sounders struggle to score against Real Salt Lake in 2-1 loss

Seattle Sounder Jordan Morris holds his head in frustration during a match against Real Salt Lake
Jordan Morris holds his head in frustration during a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake. Photo credit Jake Tull.

Seattle Sounders FC played host to Real Salt Lake on Sunday night knowing that a win would be crucial to their playoff aspirations. Their opponents had different plans though, and left Seattle with all three points in a 2-1 win for RSL.

Sounders thought they’d taken the lead in the 12th minute as Raul Ruidiaz found space in the box and took a shot that came off the crossbar only to bounce off the back of keeper Zac MacMath and into the net. The referee went to video review, though, and called the goal off for offside in the build up to the goal.

The match would settle down after the disallowed goal as both teams tried to break the other down. Sounders earned multiple corners and free kicks in the attacking third but failed to capitalize on any chances.

In the 32nd minute, Real Salt Lake took the lead off a counter-attack. With Seattle’s defenders caught high up the field, Sergio Cordova caught up to a through ball and muscled off Alex Roldan and Xavier Arreaga as he got into the box. With a couple of ball feints, Cordova drew Frei to the ground to open up the goal and then calmly put the shot away to give his club a 1-0 lead.

Seattle struggled to connect their offensive moves after the disallowed goal which partially led to the RSL goal. Despite controlling possession for much of the half, Sounders failed to create scoring chances and regularly found their passes into the box cleared away from danger. More than once, a clearance initiated a counter-attack for Salt Lake and put the Sounders on their heels trying to recover.

Real Salt Lake would make one change at the half, bringing on Scott Caldwell for Jasper Loffelsend in central midfield.

After 10 minutes of the second half, Sounders created a chance for Ruidiaz as Jordan Morris chased down a ball into the box and crossed the ball back into the center of the box for a waiting Ruidiaz but his shot went well wide of goal.

Sounders continued to dominate possession through 60 minutes but still could not break through the Salt Lake defense until finally Albert Rusnak snuck a shot past MacMath near post in the 62nd minute against his former club to tie the match at 1-1.

The draw was short lived though as 2 minutes later Real Salt Lake would retake the lead as left back Andrew Brody was left unmarked at the back post and finished off a cross by Jefferson Savarino.

Fredy Montero and Will Bruin would enter the match right after the goal, coming in for Ruidiaz and Danny Leyva. With the changes, Seattle was able to continue controlling possession over Salt Lake but still found themselves unable to break down the defense.

With time winding down in the 87th minute, Sounders created a golden scoring opportunity as Lodeiro put a cross in the box which found the head of Montero but his redirection went over the bar.

Sounders continued to put pressure on RSL in a desperate search for an equalizer, earning themselves a number of corners in the process. Despite the ball bouncing around the box just asking to be put away by a Sounder, time and time again the Real Salt Lake defense was able to clear the ball from danger, including a late shot cleared off the goal line.

Ultimately the Sounders were unable to find an equalizer and the match would finish 2-1.

Coach Brian Schmetzer was understandably disappointed that his club was unable to get a result and noted that their set piece tactics didn’t work against RSL. He was happy with the performance put in by Leyva in his start and felt that the youngster played well as the number six which allowed Rusnak to play more advanced. Whether Schmetzer will give Leyva the start again on Friday when Sounders travel to Los Angeles to face Galaxy remains to be decided.