2012 May 12

Sounders fail to solve Salt Lake defense

Seattle Sounders FC  0 - 1  Real Salt Lake

CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

51' SL: Fabian Espindola (Luis Gil)

Seattle: Bryan Meredith; Adam Johansson (Alex Caskey 82'), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke, Marc Burch; Mauro Rosales (Cordell Cato 75'), Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, David Estrada (Alvaro Fernandez 58'); Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson.
Substitutes not used: Andrew Weber, Andrew Duran, Servando Carrasco, Roger Levesque.

Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert (Chris Schuler 20'); Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy, Will Johnson, Luis Gil (Jonny Steele 75'); Alvaro Saborio (Yordany Alvarez 80'), Fabian Espindola.
Substitutes not used: Kyle Reynish, Paulo Junior, Emiliano Bonfigli, Terakazu Tanaka.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

The Seattle Sounders FC could not crack the Real Salt Lake defense, losing at home 1-0 to a chance goal by Fabian Espindola.

The Sounders took only 8 shots and none were sent on goal, making it an easy shutout for Nick Rimando. Center back Jamison Olave was outstanding, shutting down Seattle attacks time after time.

Seattle had a good opening 20 minutes. Rookie Andy Rose, playing in place of injured Brad Evans, took the first shot of the match at 11', receiving a cleared corner kick in the arc and firing inches wide. An Adam Johansson cross gave Eddie Johnson a header under pressure, and he could not aim it on frame. At 17' Eddie Johnson worked magic to get by three defenders to earn an open shot 15 yards from goal, Seattle's best chance of the match, but he hit the unpressured shot high and wide.

Salt Lake's first shot came midway through the first half when Will Johnson rocketed a shot from the 18-yard line right to Bryan Meredith, who held it. A few minutes later Luis Gil was served nicely with a cross and fired a yard wide.

From the 27' tick to the end of the first half neither team earned any chances, as the Sounders stopped pressuring in Salt Lake's half.

Salt Lake had the early chances in the second half. At 48' Gil won an aerial challenge to head Espindola's cross on goal, but right to Meredith.

51' SL: Espindola (Gil). A Seattle turnover near the halfway line started a Salt Lake counterattack. Gil chipped a ball over Seattle's back line. The ball bounced near Johansson's feet, but he missed his attempt to clear it. Espindola shot quickly on the first touch, catching Meredith flat-footed as the ball found the lower far corner. 1-0 Salt lake.

Seattle had just one good chance in the second half when a cross from Mauro Rosales at 71' gave Fredy Montero a pressured header that missed the near post by a half yard.

Salt Lake had just one good chance left, when a very long ball was won by Alvaro Saborio for a shot that Meredith pushed wide.

Seattle took three free kicks and a corner kick in the final several minutes, but Salt Lake's defense dealt with them all.

          SEA    SL
Shots:      8    10
Saves:      3     0
Corners:    6     1
Fouls:     13    15
Offsides:   3     1

54' SEA: Johnson cautioned for interfering with a goalkeeper release
70' SL: Saborio cautioned for a careless foul on Alonso

Referees: Mark Geiger; Joe Fletcher, Mike Rottersman; Daniel Radford

Attendance: 39,312

Post-Match Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

On the result: "I think we played good for the first 45 minutes. I don't think we gave up a lot of good chances. Obviously, they buried one of them and that sometimes happens. I didn't think we were as good in the second half. I thought they did a good job of taking a little bit of the air out of the ball, slowing down our attack. I think maybe fatigue affected us because our movement up front wasn't as active as it was in the first half. Five games in [15] days is a little bit of a haul, but at the end it's not an excuse. We had enough chances in the first half that we needed to get a goal. I think a tie would have been a fair result tonight, probably, because they maybe had a little bit more in terms of possession in the second half. Overall, I can't fault our guys for what they've done over the last five games."

On if he looks at tonight's game as an individual game or as part of a five-game stretch: "It's part of a set of five games. They're an experienced team in this league and they're one of the better teams, and so are we and when the top teams meet there's sometimes not a lot that separates the two."

On if he can recall a time this year where the number of players available has been stretched so thin: "Obviously, the San Jose game it was pretty thin for us and that was a game we lost 1-nothing at home as well. But this league, everything is really tight. Everybody can beat anybody on a given day, so you've got to be on top of your game. So when you lose a little bit of sharpness - we've had a lot of guys that are carrying little nicks and strains, we're playing a lot of young guys out there. You look at our team and you look at what Andy Rose did tonight, we bring in Caskey and Cordell Cato off the bench, so they're all young players and players that don't have a lot of games in this league and we're still able to be right there."

On Bryan Meredith's play tonight and on the timetable for the return of Michael Gspurning: "I thought Meredith did fine. I don't think there was much he could do on the goal. Gspurning, it's a week-by-week thing. This was a week of him just having basically inactivity and then next week we'll start to do some activity and ramp it up and then we'll see."

On Brad Evans' injury: "He's got a calf strain, so it's the same sort of thing - we've got to let it calm down. The Vancouver game might be early for him, but hopefully by the time we play Columbus or the game at Chivas."

On getting Alvaro Fernandez back tonight: "It was good. He was unlucky on that one run he made down the right where he beat like three guys and just couldn't find the space to get the ball over. He was in on the left a couple of times - got behind Beltran [and] hit a good cross, but that was one where neither of the two forwards made a run to the near post and that's what sort of bogged us down there. But I thought it was good. He got through it. He felt good, so I think he should be ready to play full-out next week."

On Real Salt Lake's goal: "It was one of those...you always go back to where you lost the ball. I think we lost the ball a little softly in midfield on that. We had some people open and the decision as to where to play the ball was not a good one, so the ball turned over and we had a couple of turnovers in that period of time - those three or four minutes from the 48th to the 52nd minute we had some turnovers that we shouldn't have had. That put us on our back foot and then the ball skipped through. We'll have to watch it on tape to make sure. It looked like Johansson was going to get a shot at it and the ball sort of skipped up on him and Espindola reached around and took it fairly well."

Andy Rose

On the game: "I thought we had the better first half possession-wise and movement-wise and I thought we were looking pretty good, maybe unfortunate not to be up one up. Then we gave away one chance and at this level against a quality side you can't do that. You still have to get shots into the back of the net. We got away from what we were good at for a little bit in the second half and obviously it cost us. Now we have to focus on getting over this and off to the next one."

On what RSL was doing defensively to stop them: "They have a solid back four. I have to give them credit for that. I don't think that they outplayed us back there, but we definitely created some good moments, especially out wide with our wing play. It's just unfortunate and it definitely hurts."

On moving on from the loss: "It's a minor bump in the road for us. It's been a tough five games and to come out of it with a good amount of points and near the top of the table is good. It hurts a little bit not to be on top, but we're definitely moving in the right direction. We'll get over this one."

Bryan Meredith

On the game: "I think in the first half we definitely had a lot of possession and a lot of the ball. We had some chances we didn't put away in the first half. In the second half, it looked much more sluggish. They still didn't have many chances, though. Unfortunately they were able to get a ball over the top and swat it home."

On the goal: "It was just a giveaway in the midfield and a ball over the top, and Espindola was able to get around Adam and get a shot off. There wasn't really much to the play."

On it being the first goal he's given up: "You're going to give up goals. If you think you're not, you're going to be devastated when you do. It happens. You just get over it and get past it and get back to work on Monday."

Fredy Montero

On what makes Real Salt Lake's defense effective: "That's the kind of game they like to play - hold the line very high. They play difficult defense and not get stretched. We didn't have the opportunity to score and at the end of the day. You have to score goals."

On why it is difficult to score on Real Salt Lake: "Any team in the league is going to be hard (to score on). We know their defense is pretty tough, and this is a game where we can say, 'OK, we can play 90 minutes and we cannot score a goal. But we gave everything we had. It wasn't a pretty game for us, but we have to keep trying.'"

Eddie Johnson

On Salt Lake's game plan: "Whatever their game plan was, it worked - a credit to their back four. They were hard to break down. They were really physical. They really played us out of the game. I thought we had some success out wide."

On playing five games in two weeks: "We showed the fatigue in the second half. I thought in the first half we were dangerous, but in the second half we got tired. I know for myself -- not having enough energy to successfully get to any of the crosses that were successfully crossed into the box. On any other night, we can get something out of that game."

On the season's start: I'm happy with the team. You couldn't ask for a better start, but you know these are the games that you want to win. In the past these are the games that stop a team from getting over the hump. On a better night, we could get maybe something different out of that game - maybe three points, but it just wasn't our night tonight."

More on fatigue: "We definitely need the break. Like I said, the boys have put in a lot of minutes over these five games and luckily (with) no injuries."

On the game's flow: "They had spells where they had the ball a lot, but never really hurt us. They had one real goal-scoring opportunity in the game. Another day that ball bounces and goes wide. Today it sat up and they got a goal."

On his team's play during tonight's game and its result: "I know a lot of the guys are down. I, myself, am down. I thought the team was playing with a lot of confidence, but a credit to Real Salt Lake - they had a game plan and got the three points."

Real Salt Lake

Jason Kreis - Head Coach

On the match: "It was a mature performance, they were ready from the first minute. I thought we started out incredibly well over the first 10 minutes and then things went completely the other way and Seattle put us under for the next 15-20. Our guys held their composure and didn't let it rattle them and in the end got what I think they deserved which was a win."

On the atmosphere: "My hat off to this organization and fan group. No question in my mind, the best place to play MLS games. It creates a tremendous atmosphere, a very good atmosphere, but credit to our guys, they always get up to play quality opponents at quality venues. Seattle represents both."

On Espindola's goal: "Very well taken goal. A little fortunate with the bounce between [Johansson's] legs. He took it really well and quicker than Meredith was expecting him to shoot."

On Espindola coming back after sitting out Wednesday: "He had a child last Friday and actually wasn't at training because he was at the hospital. I made the decision to play him Saturday night which isn't typical but knowing how special those days can be I thought it could be a really special night for him. It ended out that we had to take him out because of an ejection, tactical substitution, and we gave him a few nights rest he didn't even travel to Chicago. I thought he was spectacular tonight."

On Seattle not having a shot on goal: "I looked at the stats sheet and saw it... but it didn't feel that way. It felt like we were under the gun for a long time during the first half and especially during a stretch at the end. I think that's a bit of an anomaly, that stat."

On Real Salt Lake forward Chris Schuler coming in at the 20' minute mark: "Absolutely fantastic - that is not an easy thing to do. Number one, you're not properly warmed up. Number two, everyone else out there is already flying. Number three, it's not your natural position. Huge credit to Chris and another representation of how mentally strong he is."

Nat Borchers

On keeping Forwards Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero in check: "[We had to] make sure we kept as high line as possible without letting them getting behind us. We had to make sure we kept the space compact in front of us. In the first half I don't think we did a good job at making that space compact but in the second half we did a great job."

On a rivalry atmosphere: "To be honest whenever you play a good team like Seattle who are at the top of the standings like we are, we're always going to take the team seriously. There's definitely some heated moments between their guys and our guys and that's just how it's going to be when you have two good teams out there."

On Real Salt Lake's Fabian Espindola's goal: It's so big, I'm so happy for him. He got the night off on Wednesday and came out sharp tonight, buried one. That's what we want to see out of our strikers, playing with confidence, it's so dangerous."

Fabian Espindola

On the goal: "It was a good combination between Luis, Saborio and me. Sabo trying to hold the ball then Luis putting it over the defenders and I finished after that."

On the goal being for his newborn son: "Of course [it was for him]. I'm so happy about that. Every goal is going to be for him now."

On the result: "They are a good team but I think we played good soccer. We defended our goals after that."

On the crowd playing a factor: "I am used to it. It's always nice to play against a lot of people, you know. I don't think that affected us much. For me, no, it wasn't a big deal."

On being back with the team after taking a break: "It feels great to be back, I was cheering my team, you know I always want to play. It was good to be with my wife and son. Good to be back and score again too."