2012 Nov 2

Sounders FC blanked by Salt Lake in playoff series opener, keep their own net clean as well

Seattle Sounders FC  0 - 0  Real Salt Lake
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA


Seattle: Michael Gspurning; Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch; Mauro Rosales (Steve Zakuani 90'), Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert (Mario Martinez 82'), Brad Evans; Fredy Montero, Sammy Ochoa (David Estrada 57').
Substitutes not used: Marcus Hahnemann, Servando Carrasco, Alex Caskey, Zach Scott.

Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Kwame Watson-Siriboe (Jamison Olave 76'), Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert; Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Yordany Alvarez 87'), Will Johnson; Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola (Paulo Jr 46').
Substitutes not used: Kyle Reynish, Luis Gil, Kenny Mansally, Jonny Steele.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Seattle Sounders FC opened their playoff run by hosting Real Salt Lake in the first of two matches in a Western Conference semifinal series. Thanks largely to amazing saves by Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, his team escaped Seattle with an edge in the series after a scoreless draw. Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning's saves were similar in number. The result should not be a surprise, as the regular season series between these sides produced two scoreless draws and a thin 1-0 win for Salt Lake.

With Seattle striker Eddie Johnson sidelined with an injury, Sammy Ochoa partnered with Fredy Montero up front.

Seattle had some great the chances in the first half hour. In just the third minute Osvaldo Alonso settled a loose ball 25 yards out and fired at the post to force Rimando's first save. Brad Evans was served open near goal, but Rimando closed in to block the shot after Evans' first touch was too strong, and a put-back cross by Mauro Rosales was headed out for a corner.

At 33' Rimando made two huge saves on Seattle corner kick plays. First, Ochoa headed on goal from the penalty spot and Rimando stuck out an arm to deflect it over the bar. On the next corner kick Jhon Kennedy Hurtado got low to head the ball sharply at the near post and Rimando swatted it off the goal plane.

Salt Lake had a good opportunity on a strong attack that let Kyle Beckerman run onto a dropped ball for a blast up the middle. The ball was blocked in front of goal, but went to an open Will Johnson for a try from 15 yards, and Gspurning swatted the shot wide of the near post.

Seattle had a strong start to the second half, with Montero finding Evans on the overlap for a nice centering pass to Ochoa, and he skied the shot with plenty of target beckoning. Then Adam Johansson's cross to the spot was headed on goal by Christian Tiffert, aimed at the goal line but bouncing up just enough for Rimando to make another amazing save as he collapsed.

A cleared ball gave Alonso a shot from 20 and he missed by 2 yards.

It was bad news for Rimando when he, Beckerman, and Tiffert converged on a dangerous Rosales cross. Rimando punched the ball clear, then avoided a collision with Beckerman but dove into Tiffert's path, who was also avoiding Beckerman. With Rimando's head down low, his face collided with Tiffert's elbow as the two went down. Rimando was treated for five minutes and stayed in the match. It was later reported that he suffered a broken nose.

At 79' for Salt Lake, Will Johnson's cross/shot was taken at the near post by Gspurning.

Two minutes later Seattle substitute David Estrada worked nicely on the right to get in, and Beckerman deflected Estrada's cross/shot inches wide of the lower near corner.

For Salt Lake, Fabian Espindola crossed to give Alvaro Saborio a 12-yard header aimed at the lower near corner, and Gspurning made a fine save.

For Seattle, a nice buildup led to a Marc Burch cross from the left that Montero head-flicked to the near post. Estrada missed his chance in front of goal and the ball deflected wide to Rosales, whose cross/shot was deflected out for a corner.

The last chance was a Rosales cross aimed for Montero in front of goal, and Rimando got to it first.

          SEA   SL
Shots:     11   11
Saves:      4    5
Corners:    8    3
Fouls:     13   13
Offsides:   2    1

45' SEA: Parke cautioned for a late trip on Espindola
53' SL: Beckerman cautioned for a foul off the ball
54' SEA: Evans cautioned for a foul on Will Johnson
56' SL: Morales cautioned for tripping Tiffert from behind

Referees: Hilario Grajeda; Paul Scott, Jeff Hosking; Allen Chapman

Attendance: 34,941

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

Opening statement: "I thought we played well. I thought we created chances. Rimando comes up with some big saves in the first half that keeps them in it off a couple of those corner kicks. We missed some chances in the second half. Sammy Ochoa had a good look. David Estrada had a good opportunity at the back post, and even then Rimando comes up with a big save in the second half. Even the last ball where Mauro cuts it back, he reads the cross and beats Fredy Montero to the ball. All you can do is create chances, but I was pleased with how we played. I thought we kept them at bay for the majority of the game. After the injury to Rimando, which killed a lot of clock, obviously, but it really killed the momentum a little bit. I think it took us a while to get back into the flow after that. I thought prior that we were really all over them. Nobody wants anyone to get injured, but for them it was very timely injury because it helped slow the game down and kill some momentum. I can't be displeased with how we played and the effort that we gave tonight. I was very pleased and it's halftime at zero-zero, we've been a good road team, we just have to go to Salt Lake and do well."

On the play of his team: "When you're creating chances, that's the object of the game at the end of the day. Obviously, finishing that is the quality. Could Eddie Johnson have made a difference? Possibly ... I'd be more concerned if we weren't creating chances. I think there's times where we have to do a better job in terms of moving their center backs. We talked about that at halftime and that's something we'll work on this week."

On the mood of the team going into game two of the series: "The mood will be fine when we get there. I think right now it was a hard fought game and the guys were a little bit disappointed that they didn't come away with a victory today, but in terms of where we're going to be when we get on the field on Thursday, we'll be ready to play."

On the strategy going in to the game: "We knew that our wide guys would get space -- that our outside backs would get space to play and that our wide midfielders would get space to play. That was our plan going in, that we knew they could get space. We were talking about trying to get crosses in behind their defense, especially if they hold a high line, there's even some times we could have played some balls over the top. Maybe we were lacking a little bit of pace to do that at times. We wanted to get the ball to the wide channels because we knew that's where there was space against them, just the way they play and the way they defend."

On the football markings on the field: "I think it was okay. I think it probably looked worse from up top than it looked from on the field itself. I think the guys were good about just blocking it out of their minds and just playing. I think it was okay. We'd still prefer a clean field, but we appreciate what was done."

On the inability to score: "We happened to run into a hot goalkeeper and we didn't convert on what we needed to convert on. We just need to change it around for the next game."

On not scoring a goal in 360 minutes against RSL this season: "We've been a pretty good goal-scoring team over the last two years, and we just need to know that it's a mutually exclusive event. The next game is mutually exclusive from this game and just because we didn't get a goal in this game means nothing in regards to the next game. We could pop free for two or three."

On if they thought they would get a goal: "Yeah, we thought we were going to get one. At halftime, we talked about how we thought we were going to get one. I thought we were dangerous on our corners and our set pieces, which was one of the things that we talked about. It seemed like we got all our corners from the right, we got none from the other side of the field. We thought we were dangerous on those things and we felt that we would get another opportunity and eventually find a goal. I thought we had some chances in the second half to do that."

On the play of RSL keeper Nick Rimando: "Yeah, I don't like it when goalkeepers get hot against us. I know Nicky fairly well and he's a good goalkeeper. He's courageous and his reactions are good. The one save he made against Sammy, he actually parries the ball off the crossbar and over the goal. If he doesn't get quite a hand on it, three inches lower, it hits the bottom of the crossbar and goes in. He played well, he had a good performance, but the week before in LA Saunders came up with three big time saves, as well."

On the play of the defense: "I thought we were pretty solid. I think the only time where we ran into some problems, in the first half we ran into some problems by letting guys pop free into the top of the D and we had to block some shots and so forth and we had to do a job with that. After the injury in the second half I thought we lost possession a little bit, they got forward at times, but I thought we did a good job of bottling up Morales, and I don't think Saborio really got any looks -- maybe the one header that he had -- and Espindola came off at half."

On the attitude of the team after the game: "We could sit here and lament about it and cry about it and say, 'Oh geez that was terrible. Wow oh my god what are we going to do? Woe is me, the sky is falling. Will we be able to cross the road back to our car?' We can talk about all those things right now, but at the end of the day we have to get ready for a game on Thursday. We have to build on what was good, and what was good is that created chances. What was good was that we kept them pretty much at bay for the majority of the game, and what was good is I thought we worked very hard. I thought our fans saw the effort that our players put in and the performance we put forth. Their goalkeeper comes up big, we missed some chances without a doubt that we need to bury. If we play the same way in Salt Lake we'll come away with a result."

Michael Gspurning

On his perspective of match: "Of course we were disappointed because we wanted to win today and have a good start. We left everything out on the pitch today and we fought and played good. The only thing we didn't do was score goals. We have to go and take a win on the road and it's tough with them being the favorite but we aren't afraid to go there and see what's going on."

On other keepers play: "He had a great game and awesome saves. I looked afterwards at his face and he looked a little damaged. So all the best to him that he recovers 100 percent. He was one reason we didn't score today."

On keeper going down and affecting match: "It was a break in the game, sometimes people do it on purpose but in this case he was really injured. We didn't score before the break and we didn't score after so this time it didn't change."

On going into Salt Lake: "Of course we are thinking why we didn't score or why we didn't win today. But on the other side there is no time to think about today. It could be worse. The plus is now on Real's side but don't write us off, we are a good away team too so it will be a fun game."

Sammy Ochoa

On not putting match away: "These playoff games are about whoever put its away and to see who's going to go through. We just got to hope next we finish our chances because we might just have one and that one might be the difference."

On playing with confidence after today's match: "We got to go out there and continue what we're doing and play the same way we did here. We're a good little team so we just got to go out and play the same way we are doing right now."

Mauro Rosales

On match today: "I think we did a correct game today. We had a lot of chances but their keeper had an amazing night and we have to keep going. We have to keep going until the goals come. Either way we have to play. I think we did an excellent job taking care of all the quick players and our goals are going to come. We keep the same mentality as today and just have to keep going."

On play of goalkeeper: "I think you have to keep going. Soccer is like this. A keeper has a night like tonight sometimes; it's just impossible to score. You can shoot from everywhere and not score. Good thing is we generated many chances offensively it was a good game but we have to get going. If we win this game we have to win the next one. We are in the same place now we have to go there and win with the same mentality."

On three consecutive draws versus Real Salt Lake: "Before the game I talked to your collegues and told them we don't have much space in this kind of game. Two similar teams with similar kind of players and it's tough to play each other with two tough teams in the league ... Today, we came out with good mentality and good character and it's something we have to keep."

Real Salt Lake

Jason Kreis - Head Coach

On general game impressions: "I think I start with praising my team for an unbelievable effort they put forth tonight, and showed just a real desire to be committed and to stay together. It's fantastic, and we had a lot of individual performances that were incredible, but I think I walk away feeling so proud of my team because they defined the word 'together' for me tonight."

On goalkeeper Nick Rimando's performance: "I just got off the radio and said it, and I'll say it again: I think it will have to go down as one of the single best individual performances by any player that's ever worn an RSL jersey."

On whether Rimando's injury nearly took him out of the game: "We thought he was going to have to come out. We thought it was going to be a laceration that they couldn't get the blood stopped, and if that's the case, then he has to come out. They did a good job getting the blood stopped and Nick continued on with a real brave effort."

On the status of Fabian Espindola: "I don't know that one either. He was questionable coming into this game. We knew he probably wasn't going to be able to give us 90 minutes. I think he gave us 45 minutes of everything he had, and then hopefully made a smart decision to get himself off before he hurt himself any more seriously."

On holding Seattle scoreless for four games, and whether that is a feat solely attributable to Rimando: "It's about everybody; it's about 11 players. Certainly, Nick made some individual plays tonight to make some stops on some corner kicks and such, but the 11 players in front of him were simply fantastic as well."

On subbing in Jamison Olave: "Olave came on ... It was my ideal plan to try to get Olave into the game to see if we can get ready for next week. But we were forced into that sub because Kwame Watson-Siriboe, I think, rolled his ankle and he was limping around and that's not the game you want to be limping around in."

On what he expects from the return leg: "I don't know, we'll see. I mean, we're going to handle it the same way we try to handle every game, which is to try to be on the front foot. We're at home, obviously we know we need to win to move on, and we'll throw everything at it, I'm quite certain of it."

Nick Rimando

On how he is feeling: "I feel good. I took a hit, but I feel okay, focus, and my eye sight is fine. I'm ready to get back home and handle business on Thursday."

On what exactly happened on that play: "I just got told. I have no idea. I commit for a ball and the next thing I know I'm on the ground. I was told that Christian Tiffert kind of followed through, not intentionally, but he followed through with his forearm and got me."

On if he has a favorite save of the ones he made today: "No, just the shutout. Just to come here and get the shutout. You want to always go in and do your job, and the job was done here tonight, not just by me but by my teammates as well."

On how does it feel for him to come and contribute mightily: "These are the playoffs. Big players step up in big games, and I think everybody stepped up tonight, it wasn't just me. I did my part for sure, but so did everybody else."

Ned Grabavoy

On how does it feel to be able to walk out here with a positive result: "It feels good for sure. It's a really difficult place to play. They're a really good team and they have been for the past couple of years. We've been battling with them in the playoffs it seems almost every year. They're well coached with good players so we knew it was going to be difficult coming into this. We got a result we wanted. We kept it zero and going back to our home turf and I think it is going to be another difficult game. Nothing is over by any means and I think Thursday is going to be another test for us for 90 minutes maybe plus."

On Nick Rimando's game: "It's just pretty unreal. Both of those corner kick in a row I'm on the post so I have the best view of anybody and I see the ball come in and I see that their guy is going to win it no question. He goes ahead and I think it is a goal all the way. The first one he just tips right over the crossbar. The second one was another split second reaction. Nick's a battler and there is no question that he is the best goalkeeper in the league in my eyes. I can't say enough about Nicky, he's the man of the match tonight."

Kyle Beckerman

On what happened on the pay where Nick Rimando got hit: "I'm not sure. They crossed the ball in, and it was just a split second reaction where I had to kick it out, the guy was coming in to attack it, and Nick was coming out to defend it I couldn't really see, but he has a nice little gash on his eye."