SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders are headed to the 2016 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Seattle got an early goal from Alvaro Fernandez, a go-ahead tally from Cristian Roldan in the 31st minute and held on the rest of the way, bagging a 2-1 MLS Decision Day victory over Real Salt Lake that officially punched their ticket to the postseason.
The win pushed the Sounders into fourth place in the Western Conference and will host Sporting Kansas City in the Knockout Round on Thursday, Oct. 27 (7 p.m. PT; FS1/Unimas).
Single-game tickets for the match are on sale now.
The goal for Fernandez was his first of the season since returning to the club in July. Roldan, meanwhile, bagged his fourth of the year to help pace Seattle. Luke Mulholland scored in the fourth minute for RSL to temporarily equalize the contest before Roldan’s game-winner.
The victory capped off what has been a remarkable turn around for the Sounders, who found themselves with far-fetched playoff hopes after starting the season 6-12-2. With Sunday’s victory, however, Seattle are now 8-2-4 since interim head coach Brian Schmetzer took over on July 31 and are now headed to the playoffs for an eighth consecutive season.
The match got off to a wild start as the Sounders opened the scoring in just the third minute after right back Tyrone Mears sent a cross into the RSL penalty area that forward Jordan Morris niftily backheeled into the path of a charging Fernandez. The Uruguayan midfielder tapped the easy finish past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, giving the Sounders the early lead.
The visitors would strike back almost immediately however, after Mulholland teed up a shot that took a deflection off of Sounders defender Joevin Jones and rolled past Sounders ‘keeper Stefan Frei and into the net, equalizing the contest at 1-1 before the five-minute mark.
But Seattle would retake the lead in the 31st minute after defender Roman Torres forced Rimando into a diving save off a Nicolas Lodeiro corner kick. Rimando managed to deflect Torres’ shot away but Roldan pounced on the rebound and cashed it into the goal, giving the Sounders the 2-1 advantage.