SANDY, Utah – You can’t win if you don’t score and you can’t score if you don’t shoot.
The Sounders FC went 72 minutes without a shot against Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium, although they started with a lineup of Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle – each with four goals on the year – for the first time this season.
RSL finished the match outshooting Seattle 17-2 and the Sounders dropped points at Rio Tinto Stadium for the second time this season with a 2-0 defeat.
“Obviously goals change games, but I didn’t think we were sharp in the final third of the field,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We needed to get Eddie and Oba behind their defense and we didn’t do a good enough job of that tonight.”
Real Salt Lake outshot Seattle 8-0 in the first half and while only one of those shots came from inside the box, they made that attempt count as it provided the first goal of the match.
In the 41st minute, Javier Morales blasted a free kick into the five-man Seattle wall. The ball caromed cleanly to Kyle Beckerman on the right side and he hit it off the bounce into the bottom of the crossbar and in for his second goal of the season.
RSL then raced out to a 2-0 lead to start the second half. Robbie Findley got out on the run and got a shot away from the right side. Michael Gspurning punched the shot away for the save, but the redirect went to Alvaro Saborio at the top of the box. Saborio touched it back to Findley at the right post and he put it inside the far post for his fourth goal of the season.
“It changed the game completely. That’s the worst time for a team to get scored on,” midfielder Brad Evans said. “Then we’re two goals down chasing and against a team like that once you start pressing guys forward, they cheat a little bit and they’re good enough to connect four or five passes and the game opens up from there.”
The Sounders didn’t register their first shot until the 73rd minute when Mario Martinez curled off of Mauro Rosales up the right side and hit a left-footed shot that was snagged by Nick Rimando for the save.
In the 83rd minute, Obafemi Martins nearly got the Sounders on the board when he got to a ball in the box on the left side, maneuvered around Rimando and shot, but his off-balance attempt was off-frame.
It was the second loss of the season for the Sounders at Rio Tinto Stadium after they fell 2-1 to RSL on March 30. Salt Lake now sits atop the Western Conference at 9-5-3, and the Sounders, who dropped to 6-5-3, have some catching up to do, but Schmid said after the game that it’s something the team can accomplish.
“I think neither time that we played RSL were we as sharp as we needed to be,” Schmid said. “Part of that is a tribute to them and part of that is on us. I have to worry about us.”
The Sounders will return to CenturyLink Field for their next match, hosting DC United on July 3 after DC ended a 13-match winless streak with a 1-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
Sounders FC – None.
Real Salt Lake – Kyle Beckerman 41; Robbie Findley (Alvaro Saborio) 46.
Sounders FC – Leo Gonzalez (caution) 61.
Real Salt Lake – Chris Wingert (caution) 24; Kyle Beckerman (caution) 59.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (Shalrie Joseph 76), Servando Carrasco, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle (Mario Martinez 57), Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson (David Estrada 73).
Real Salt Lake – Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Carlos Salcedo, Chris Wingert, Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy, Khari Stephenson (Sebastian Velasquez 77), Javier Morales (Lovel Palmer 90), Robbie Findley (Olmes Garcia 67), Alvaro Saborio.