2011 Oct 29

Sounders FC badly outplayed in Salt Lake to open their playoff series

Real Salt Lake  3 - 0  Seattle Sounders FC
Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT

41' SL: Alvaro Saborio (Chris Wingert, Javier Morales)
53' SL: Alvaro Saborio (Javier Morales)
88' SL: Ned Grabavoy

Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave (Chris Schuler 32'), Nat Borchers (Luis Gil 84'), Chris Wingert; Andy Williams, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Ned Grabavoy 79'), Will Johnson; Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola.
Substitutes not used: Kyle Reynish, Arturo Alvarez, Collen Warner, Paulo Araujo Jr.

Seattle: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez; Alvaro Fernandez (Roger Levesque 77'), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle (Erik Friberg 60'); Sammy Ochoa (Mike Fucito 63'), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes not used: Bryan Meredith, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl, Nate Jaqua.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

The Seattle Sounders FC opened their MLS playoff series with a poor effort, losing 3-0 to host Real Salt Lake. The series will conclude Wednesday in Seattle.

The Sounders never forced a save from Nick Rimando. Salt Lake put a dozen shots on goal, with Alvaro Saborio scoring a brace and Ned Grabavoy adding a late goal. Kasey Keller stopped the stoppable shots with nine saves.

It was a complete game from Salt Lake. They were better at passing, better at defending, better at winning the 50-50 balls, and better at finishing. Seattle had very few good chances to score.

Salt Lake's first threat came from a 25-yard free kick from the side at 7', sent to the spot by Javier Morales and headed hard and wide by Saborio.

Seattle had a chance with a similar free kick that was cleared, then sent back into the mixer by Osvaldo Alonso, and Lamar Neagle headed a shot wide.

Salt Lake turned up the pressure at 20' when Will Johnson fired a hard shot from the side. Keller got down for the save and Leo Gonzalez cleared the rebound. A give and go put Andy Williams into the penalty area, and Keller did well to touch the shot wide of the far post. On the resulting corner kick, Saborio headed a shot two yards wide.

Neagle's cross at 37' was a bit too high for Fernandez' header.

Salt Lake continued with the better shots as Fabian Espindola fought for a shot and drove a low one to the far corner, where Keller made the save with a dive.

41' SL: Saborio (Wingert, Morales). Chris Wingert and Morales attacked up the left side with James Riley forced to try to defend both of them. Morales fed a nice ball to the overlapping Wingert in the penalty area for a good shot that was on its way to the lower far corner and would have gone in, but Saborio, who appeared to be slightly offside, couldn't resist giving it a tap on the goal line. Referee Mark Geiger consulted with his assistant referee, who ruled Saborio onside. 1-0 Salt Lake.

Seattle's best chances of the match came just before halftime. Fredy Montero found space goalside when his marker missed a stab at the ball, but Montero failed to lift his shot over a sliding defender. Fernandez was open on the 6-yard line for a well-placed cross from Gonzalez, but the snap header missed the lower far corner.

The second half soon produced a double save by Keller. Espindola on the right served Russell's forward run for a hard shot from outside the box that was slightly deflected. Keller blocked it and the rebound went to Morales on the doorstep, and Keller lunged to make a shoulder save. This time the rebound went to Williams 15 yards from goal with plenty of target available, but he wasted the shot well over the bar.

53' SL: Saborio (Morales). Near the end line, Morales beat Gonzalez to send in a cross to the near post. Saborio was tightly marked by Jeff Parke, but managed to stick his foot behind his body and rake the ball towards the lower far corner. 2-0 Salt Lake.

Salt Lake kept the momentum, as a few minutes later a long free kick by Johnson was deflected towards the lower corner for another fine save by Keller.

An hour in Seattle brought in Erik Friberg and Mike Fucito for Neagle and Sammy Ochoa. The Fernandez hit the crossbar with a shot/cross that proved to be as close as Seattle would come.

Salt Lake resumed their pressure as Johnson got open for a 20-yard shot right to Keller. Espindola got in and dropped a pass to give Saborio a great chance at a hat trick, but he wasted the shot high of goal.

Seattle's second shot of the half was a weak header by Fernandez from a chipped pass by Montero, just too far for Fernandez to get on top of it. The third shot came when Parke headed a corner kick over the bar.

Salt lake were not yet done. Espindola worked 1 v 1 for a shot from 15 yards and Keller leaped to push it wide of the top far corner.

88' SL: Grabavoy. Brad Evans stretched to clear a cross in front of goal, but the clearance only went about ten yards. Grabavoy beat Gonzalez to the ball and hammered a low shot that squeezed between Keller and Evans. 3-0 Salt Lake.

Seattle's last chances were for substitutes Roger Levesque, blocked by Russell, and Fucito, deflected past the top far corner.

The second half saw Alonso, Montero and Friberg all get yellow cards that seemed to be a result of frustration.

          SL   SEA
Shots:     19   12
Saves:      0    9
Corners:    5    7
Fouls:     11   11
Offsides:   4    0

30' SL: Espindola cautioned for a cleats-first slide into Gonzalez
54' SEA: Alonso cautioned for pushing Saborio
90' SEA: Montero cautioned for tripping Rimando
90' SEA: Friberg cautioned for a late challenge on Grabavoy

Referees: Mark Geiger; Joe Fletcher, Steven Taylor; Silviu Petrescu

Attendance: 17,067

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

Opening comments: "We're lucky we didn't lose six-nothing. We were well served by only losing three-nothing. We played not well and I thought Real Salt Lake played very well. A bad time for us to choose to have a bad game. Obviously they had a very, very good game. Hats off to them."

Why were things so difficult on offense?: "For us, on offense we couldn't keep the ball. We couldn't hold onto the ball. Some of it was because of their pressure, but some of it was just our bad passing. It's probably one of the worst games I've seen Alonso play in his three years with us. It was just not a good exhibition of soccer from us."

Did you see it coming in any way?: "You never see something like this coming. We knew they were going to come at us with a lot of energy. I thought we absorbed a lot of that energy early on. I thought at the time where they got their first goal we were starting to get a little bit more of the game. We were starting to come into the game. I don't know. I haven't seen the replay, but it looked like offside. Obviously Geiger, the referee, thought it was offside, because he went to the linesman to double-check it. So a possible offside goal, but the timing of the goal wasn't good just before halftime. Then we needed to keep it 1-0. In the last 20 minutes I thought we had, again, more of the game, but in the second half we can't give away the goals we gave because it came from lazy marking."

How do you overcome a three-goal deficit?: "We've got to score four. It's very simple. We can't allow any goals. There's no secret strategy. Everybody's got to play better soccer than what they've played. Everybody's got to put in a better performance, from the coaching staff, to the support staff, to the players -- everybody's got to do better at what they did because tonight wasn't good enough."

How much is 3-0 different than 2-0 in terms of conceding late?: "One-zero was the best way to come out here. Two-zero was still something, but three-zero is a pretty big hole. You've got to climb out of that hole. It changes how they approach the game, probably more so than how we approach the game."

Was the game too big for some of the guys?: "Some guys played well below our expectations. We've been in big games. We've played Open Cup finals. They've been in finals. They've had to play in games where it's lose or go. We've been in Champions League games. But tonight we weren't as composed as we needed to be. We were lucky to come out without a red card to Ozzie; it was a little bit of lack of composure from us there as well. It was like everything that could go wrong did go wrong tonight, so we got to make sure it doesn't happen the next game."

In regards to all things going against you, was it like the last RSL game?: "Yeah, but I didn't think we played that badly in that game. Today we got outplayed. Salt Lake played much better. That was maybe the best game they've played all season. For us it was not a good game."

Did your captain maybe keep it from being closer to 6-0?: "Keller was the one guy who stood up and performed. He made a number of key saves. We never forced Rimando to make a save all night."

How's the state of the team in the locker room?: "Right now it's a team that's got to get their heads out and got to pick themselves up. I think they've got to beat themselves up a little tonight, because that was a dismal performance and they've got to pick themselves up tomorrow."

Was Riley left on an island at times?: "If you can pass the ball, you won't be on an island."

How do you attack RSL without Olave and Borchers?: "We don't know if they're out for the next game. We'll see. People can heal."

Why was Sammy Ochoa the right choice for you to start today?: "Everybody was the wrong choice. With the exception of Keller, nobody played real well. They won all the duels. If you count up the duels, any 50-50 duel they won. They were more physical than us. They knocked us off the ball early on. We didn't react well to it. They crushed people on tackles. We pushed people on tackles; we didn't crush them. They were much better than we were in all facets of the game."

James Riley

On the result: "It's simple. We got dominated, from minute one to minute 95. There's nothing much to be said. Even with that, I thought we had chances, definitely. They're a very good team so you're not going to get a lot of chances away from home. Obviously we were on the wrong side of some unfortunate bounces as well, and that's going to kill you. It's simple, you just regroup and try to put it all on the line on Wednesday. It starts with just getting one goal, then hopefully we get two and three and just where it goes from there."

Did the third goal chance the feel?: "Yeah. I think the first one as well. Definitely we wanted to end the half at zeros and then we would've had a chance to regroup. Obviously, critical moments are right before halftime and we lost that one. That kind of put us in a hole, and even with that we thought we could get one and equalize in the second half. Then the second one goes and the third one is definitely a dagger. Even at two-zero, all we wanted was to get one and find a way to get out here two-one. Three-zero is definitely a hole that we didn't want to be in, but that's the reality of it. It's all on the line on Wednesday."

On the feeling after coming in with such confidence and belief?: "Obviously you never want to lose three-zero, especially in the playoffs with everything on the line. You've worked so hard to get to this point. We haven't really gotten beat that bad in the three years, especially when the games are on the line. Definitely it's a trying moment for the group. We'll see what type of character shows up Wednesday. That's all we can do."

Fredy Montero

Does this team believe it can come back?: "Sure, why not? They won 3-0 against us. Why can't we do the same?"

What were the reasons for the struggles?: "We didn't do a good job. We didn't win our duels. We need to play more with the ball."

And offensively?: "All the time we were defending. We didn't find a way to push forward and try to score goals and keep the ball."

Mike Fucito

What made things so difficult tonight?: "We've just got to come out better than we did. Those are not goals that we want to give up, and we created some chances but just weren't able to put them away. Everything from top to bottom can be better. They were more physical. We've just got to be tougher all around."

On needing to be better: "We dug ourselves a hole, but if any team can come back, I believe it's us. There's still another game to play, so we'll see what happens."

On strategy when game was 2-0: "For me, as a forward I want to get one back, but it goes both ways because you don't want to push too far forward and then give up another one. But you want to chip away at the lead."

On the locker room belief: "We have a lot to be upset about tonight, but come tomorrow we've got to put it behind us and do whatever it takes to turn the table the other way."

Sammy Ochoa

On getting the start and the loss: "I was happy to get the start, but we didn't get the win here, and the way we lost, it wasn't a good start for me. We've still got 90 minutes to go and we have to come out Wednesday and do the best we can to come out on top."

On not being able to get chances: "They did a good job pressuring us. It was hard to get the ball. We've got to see the video and see what mistakes we made and go from there to get the win on Wednesday."

Real Salt Lake

Jason Kreis - Head Coach

On getting Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales back on the field at the same time: "I'd speak more to having everybody on the field at the same time - our strongest lineup. I don't think we've had that ability to pick our absolute strongest lineup since the first leg of the (CONCACAF Champions League) final at Monterrey."

On whether or not Real Salt Lake kept their focus for 90 minutes: "Yeah, I was very, very pleased. For me that was a complete match, and we haven't had a complete match of good soccer and good focus and the requisite commitment for a very long time."

On coming out with an aggressive mindset early in the match: "Yeah, and I thought our spirit was really, really high. And I'll tell you what, that's a credit to the crowd. That was the first time in a long time that I can remember at the beginning of the match looking around and saying, 'the stands are almost full.' Typically we have to wait until close to halftime to get the stands completely full and tonight they were almost full from before the kickoff. So it was a very, very loud start."

Nick Rimando

On the defensive effort making his job easier in goal: "One of our focuses was to keep a zero back there. We knew they had some lethal weapons up top and in the midfield and (we had) to stay compact. When you add a leader like Kyle Beckerman to the lineup it gives us a lot of defensive work, and he covers so much ground. He helped out a bunch, but all in all I think my job was pretty easy tonight because of the guys in front of me keeping it tight, keeping a high line and stepping to the ball."

On the injuries to center backs Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave: "Hopefully it's nothing too serious with those guys, but again, guys stepped up and we said, 'You know, the playoffs are when you step up,' and we showed that we have some depth tonight and guys slid over and we got the win tonight."

On taking a 3-0 advantage to Seattle on Wednesday for the second leg: "Seattle is a tough place to play. You can't be too comfortable with any score. They're still a great team and they'll be better at home, so we have to make sure we do everything right with our bodies, and I'm sure coach will have a game plan for us. 3-0 is a good lead, but I just think we need to continue to play well."

On the mentality that Real Salt Lake had going into the match: "We looked at some tape and I think everybody got a little bit disappointed from that last-minute goal against Portland, and we wanted to make a 90-plus effort tonight. We're at home and we feel comfortable at home, and we know we can get our offensive chances if we play good defense."

Ned Grabavoy

On the way the match unfolded for Real Salt Lake: "It looked good. I obviously had to watch it as a spectator as well the first 60 or 65 minutes. It's such a weird thing, you go into the playoffs and, obviously, we hadn't been doing our best stuff, but we kept telling ourselves if we keep playing and working through it that the soccer's going to show through. It doesn't necessarily surprise me. This is a very veteran group and I thought it would turn around."

On RSL's tactics going into the second half up 1-0: "To be honest with you, I think we felt pretty comfortable at halftime. We thought the most important thing was making sure we got a zero here on our home field. I think that when we defend well as a team like that, our chances kind of seem to come from that; they kind of come out of nowhere. I don't think it's a situation where we were like, 'let's throw numbers forward, let's try to get another one.' We were pretty confident that we'd find some chances in the second half by doing the things that we were doing and we did get some chances."

Alvaro Saborio

On the team's performance: "I think the team was sharp in all the positions."

On the injuries to Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave: "I hope they get better soon and we have the whole team together again."