BY: Karen Watson
SEATTLE – Despite an impressive second half rally and 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake, the Sounders’ play off ride has come to end. After losing on Saturday 3-0 away to RSL they needed a 4-0 victory to win the series on aggregate and advance to the Western Conference Final. This was the third straight season that Seattle has been knocked out in the first round of play. “It’s definitely a very hollow feeling at this stage,” commented Coach Sigi Schmid.
Seattle was able to turn the tables tonight on Salt Lake, only allowing them one shot on goal, as opposed to twelve from the first leg of the series. The Sounders tallied nine shots versus the dismal zero from Saturday’s shut out.
Dominant throughout the first forty five, Seattle defender Jeff Parke had the best chance of the half after picking up a loose ball in the 36’ and drilling it towards the net but Salt Lake defender Tony Beltran was there to make an incredible save.
The Sounders continued to apply pressure, keeping players forward and moving the ball into RSL’s half of the pitch despite losing midfielders Brad Evans and Alvaro Fernandez to injuries in the first half.
Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso was able to give Seattle just a bit of breathing room after he converted a penalty kick in the 56’. Lamar Neagle quickly followed that up in the 61’ with a well placed left footed shot that snuck past RSL keeper Nick Rimando and into the left corner.
Seattle pushed forward on the attack, knowing they only needed one more goal to send the game into overtime. Alonso had another shot in the 78’ but it went high. An incredible comeback wasn’t in the cards for the Sounders however, and they were unable to capitalize on chances as the clock ticked down.
Sounders keeper Kasey Keller, appearing in his final match, made an incredible save in the 80’ after Salt Lake forward Fabian Espindola fired the ball towards goal. “Twenty-one years as a pro is done, it’s been a lot of fun. Looking forward to what comes next but I will miss things like this. We gave it our all tonight.” Keller said after the game.
Real Salt Lake will now play either the top seeded LA Galaxy or the New York Red Bulls, who are a wild card team, at home in the first leg of the Western Conference Final.