SANDY, Utah – For the first time since April 19, Sounders FC is chasing a team in the Western Conference standings. After falling 2-1 to Real Salt Lake on Saturday, Seattle dropped to second in the west behind RSL, ending its 14-match run atop the conference standings.
With the win, Salt Lake (11-4-9, 42 points) jumped one point ahead of Seattle (13-7-2, 41 points) in the standings.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game going in. I thought we managed the game pretty well in the first half. We know they like to put teams under a lot pressure in the first 30 minutes and we sustained that,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “In the second half we made two individual mistakes. Those two individual mistakes cost us at the end.”
Both teams played good possession soccer in the first half, but Salt Lake got more danger on the offensive end. That didn’t faze goalkeeper Stefan Frei, as he came up with three saves in the first 45 minutes to keep the match scoreless.
In the 53rd minute, RSL took the lead when Joao Plata netted his 11th goal of the season off a Luke Mulholland free kick. Zach Scott was whistled for a foul on the defensive left side when he collided with Olmes Garcia on the wing. On the ensuing free kick, Mulholland sent a right-footed ball to the far post and Plata got in behind his mark to head it in to put Seattle behind 1-0.
That quickly became a 2-0 hole when Mulholland and Osvaldo Alonso battled over a loose ball in the middle of the box and it wound up in the back of the net for a Salt Lake goal.
“They’re going to be pushing,” Sounders FC midfielder Lamar Neagle said. “They’re at home and they have a good record here, so that’s what they’re going to do.”
Seattle pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute when Kenny Cooper burst up the left side and crossed a ball to the middle. Andy Rose got a touch to it and Clint Dempsey chased it down for a shot. Nick Rimando made the initial save and it caromed to Rose for a header that bounced off the post, where Chad Barrett thumped it into the net for his fifth goal of the season to make it 2-1.
Seattle pressed for an equalizer and even went into a 3-5-2 in the waning moments of the match, but couldn’t even the score and suffered the third loss in the last four matches.
After playing its third match in seven days and playing without key components Obafemi Martins and Marco Pappa due to suspension and injury, respectively, Seattle was happy with the character it showed on the road against RSL in the final 30 minutes of the match.
“We had chances. We had a couple of good looks,” Schmid said. “I think when you consider everything, it was a good character-showing from our team.”
Seattle will host the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday at CenturyLink Field as it looks to reestablish its spot at the top of the West.