SEATTLE – Sebastian Saucedo scored a wonder-goal in the 61st minute and the Seattle Sounders never found an equalizer, as the Rave Green fell 1-0 to Western Conference foe Real Salt Lake at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
Neither side managed to break through in a physical first half that saw the sides combine for five yellow cards. Seattle was dealt a blow just after the half-hour mark after rookie midfielder Handwalla Bwana had to exit the contest after suffering a foot injury, and was replaced by Waylon Francis.
Saucedo gave the visitors the lead in highlight-reel fashion, however, with a brilliantly taken laser strike from outside the area that deflected off the fingertips of diving Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, staking RSL to the 1-0 second-half advantage.
Seattle had a great look to equalize the contest minutes later as Magnus Wolff Eikrem delivered a pinpoint free kick into the RSL box that Kim Kee-hee flicked on to substitute Lamar Neagle. However, RSL stalwart goalkeeper Nick Rimando just managed get a fingertip to Neagle’s headed attempt, which then deflected off the crossbar, keeping the 1-0 scoreline that would hold as the final.
ATTACKING STRUGGLES CONTINUE
It’s no secret that the Sounders have been struggling to score goals lately and a ridiculous string of injuries to their attacking corps certainly hasn’t helped matters. Midfielder Nicolás Lodeiro has been nursing a toe injury and is currently with the Uruguayan national team ahead of the World Cup, while striker Will Bruin and winger Víctor Rodríguez are both still on the shelf with injuries of their own. Without those cogs, the Sounders have simply struggled for find answers for how to support Clint Dempsey and find any offensive fluidity, a problem that was on display again on Saturday.
SPEAKING OF INJURIES…
If there was a player the Sounders could least-afford to lose at this point, Bwana would be near the top of the list, considering how thin Seattle’s depth is currently stretched. The 18-year-old is inexperienced and probably wasn’t expected to be playing such a big role with the First Team so quickly, but without Lodeiro, he’s one of the best options Head Coach Brian Schmetzer had at his disposal when it came to a body who could provide some sort of pace and creativity. If Bwana has to miss any extended amount of time with his foot injury, the Sounders’ job could get even tougher.
Handwalla Bwana makes a move past RSL defender Danilo Acosta | Mike Fiechtner
FAMILIAR FOE LOOMS
Coming off the disappointing result, the Sounders now have to hit the road for the seldom-seen back-to-back fixture against the same opponent as they’ll head to Rio Tinto Stadium to take on this same RSL side on Saturday, June 2. That match will kick off a busy stretch for the club, which will start its 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup campaign with an away fixture at USL side Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday, June 6, before returning to MLS play with a match at CenturyLink against D.C. United on Saturday, June 9.
RSL - Sebastián Saucedo (Danilo Acosta) 61'
SEA - Magnus Wolff Eikrem (Unsporting Behavior) 18'
RSL - Sunny (Unsporting Behavior) 24'
SEA - Nouhou (Unsporting Behavior) 37'
RSL - Justen Glad (Unsporting Behavior) 42'
RSL - Marcelo Silva (Dissent) 45'