Corey Baird scored in the 57th minute and Luis Silva added an open-net finish at the death, sending the Seattle Sounders to a 2-0 loss in their Western Conference bout against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday.
It was the second straight defeat to RSL for Seattle coming off their 1-0 loss when the sides played at CenturyLink Field last weekend and knocked the Rave Green to 2-7-2 on the 2018 season.
Neither team managed to break through in a scoreless first half, but Baird would find the opener after a rebound off Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei bounced directly to him, and he managed to head the ball into the net.
Silva would then add the insurance just before the final whistle after Frei came forward to try and help find the late equalizer, allowing RSL to break out and finish into an empty net on the counter to seal the 2-0 final.
It’s been tough sledding for an injury-riddled Sounders attack to start 2018, but on Saturday they did finally regain the services of one of their best attacking players. Spanish winger Víctor Rodríguez hadn’t played at all this season as he worked his way back from a knee injury, and was able to make his much-anticipated season debut when he checked on as a second-half substitute for forward Will Bruin in the 73rd minute. The Sounders have a long way to go to fix the attacking woes that have afflicted them all year, and Rodriguez’s presence won’t be enough just on its own. But in a goal-starved season, Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer will certainly hope the 28-year-old can play a role in turning things around.
RETURN OF NICO?
The Sounders have sorely missed the services of playmaker Nicolás Lodeiro during this rough stretch, as the star midfielder has been nursing a toe injury and been away from the club training with the Uruguayan national team ahead of the World Cup. Lodeiro wasn’t selected for Uruguay’s final roster, however, so he could be returning to the Sounders sooner than anticipated. If that turns out to be the case, his re-integration could be another shot in the arm in addition to Rodríguez, considering no one else on the roster is quite capable of replicating his skill-set as a goal-dangerous facilitator.
The Sounders have about as rich a history in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as anybody, having won the tournament four times, and it’s now time to start their 2018 USOC campaign as Seattle will hit the road to take on USL side Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday, June 6. After that, it’s back to league play on another quick turnaround as the Sounders play host to D.C. United at CenturyLink on Saturday, June 9.
RSL - Corey Baird 57'
RSL - Luis Silva 90'+1'
SEA - Kelvin Leerdam (Unsporting Behavior) 10'
SEA - Jordy Delem (Unsporting Behavior) 25'
RSL - Justen Glad (Unsporting Behavior) 87'