Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake have been two of the Western Conference’s best teams since 2009, and their combined success has led to some memorable battles between the clubs over the years.
The two teams will clash again with Seattle’s postseason hopes on the line on Sunday (4 pm PT; JoeTv/KIRO Radio 97.3 FM/El Rey 1360 AM), and as the two sides gear up for the season finale, we’re taking take a look back at five of their best games through the years.
2009 MLS Regular Season: Sounders FC 2, Real Salt Lake 0 [WATCH HIGHLIGHTS]
In just their second match as an MLS team, the Sounders outlasted an RSL side that went on to win the MLS Cup later that year. The Rave Green opened the scoring in the 17th minute, when Steve Zakuani juked RSL right back Tony Beltran inside the box and found Nate Jaqua for an easy tap-in past goalkeeper Nick Rimando. The second half featured an incredible strike by Fredy Montero, the club’s all-time leading scorer with 60 goals across all competitions. Montero found the back of the net from 25 yards out to seal three points for Seattle.
2011 MLS Regular Season: Sounders FC 2, Real Salt Lake 1 [WATCH HIGHLIGHTS]
RSL hadn’t lost at home in more than two years before the Sounders snapped their streak at 29 games. Lamar Neagle has scored 26 regular-season goals in his Sounders career, and his second-half strike in this game may be the best of the bunch. Neagle’s goal, which put the Rave Green up 2-0 in the 84th minute, proved to be the winner after RSL’s Nelson Gonzalez pulled one back four minutes later. That victory was the beginning of an eight-match unbeaten run for the Sounders.
2011 MLS Cup Playoffs: Sounders FC 2, Real Salt Lake 0 [WATCH HIGHLIGHTS]
After falling 3-0 in the first leg of the 2011 Western Conference Semifinal series, the Sounders needed to score at least three goals in their home leg for a chance of advancing past RSL. The Rave Green put pressure on RSL’s backline all night, and a pair of goals came early in the second half via Neagle and an Osvaldo Alonso penalty kick. Despite a bevy of late chances for Seattle, the Claret and Cobalt held onto their 3-2 aggregate lead at CenturyLink Field. It was the final match as a Sounder for goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
2012 MLS Cup Playoffs: Sounders FC 1, Real Salt Lake 0 [WATCH HIGHLIGHTS]
The Sounders got their chance at revenge the very next year, as they once again met RSL in the Conference Semifinals. A memorable scoreless draw at CenturyLink Field put the Claret and Cobalt in a good spot heading into the second leg, but it was the Sounders who made breakthrough at Rio Tinto Stadium to reach their first-ever Conference Championship series. Mario Martinez scored the dramatic winner in the 81st minute, finding the far corner with a well-struck volley on an assist by Montero. Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, meanwhile, pitched a pair of shutouts in the series.
2014 MLS Regular Season: Sounders FC 3, Real Salt Lake 2 [WATCH HIGHLIGHTS]
A thrilling match between two teams near the top of the league standings, this one was knotted at 2-2 heading into second-half stoppage time. It would have been a disappointing draw for Seattle, considering RSL played with 10 men for the final 22 minutes after Nat Borchers picked up a red card. Then, on one of the final touches of the game, Andy Rose ignited the crowd at CenturyLink Field by scooping up a loose ball and finding the far corner to clinch three points for the home side. Thanks to Rose’s goal, Seattle maintained its lead in the Supporters’ Shield race with seven matches to go, and eventually won the Shield on the season’s final day.