Álvaro Saborío scored two for Real Salt Lake, and the Seattle Sounders reacted with frustration to their 3-0 loss in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals. RSL dominated from the early minutes, pounding eleven shots at Seattle's keeper -- he saved eight of them -- while holding the Flounders to exactly zero shots on target for the duration of the match. Fun game.
The first fifteen minutes of the match were a back and forth that took place mostly around the center of the pitch. From then on it was all RSL. Will Johnson had RSL's first real chance in the 20th minute. Another chance came in the 24th. Aside from the rust still evident on Beckerman after missing the last few matches of the season, the only thing missing for Salt Lake was the final touch.
The Flounders' defense was doing well to intercept RSL's forward movement, up until the 41st minute. On a run down the left flank, Fabian Espindola passed the ball forward to Chris Wingert, who was making an overlapping run. Wingert played the ball on the ground to Alvaro Saborio, waiting in front of goal. The Flounders whinged about offsides, but they got beat, plain and simple.
The half ended with a chance for Seattle, Leonardo Gonzalez losing Robbie Russell on the left side and crossing in to Alvaro Fernandez, but Fernandez couldn't get his head onto it. Aside from that half chance, Seattle had very little to be happy about in the first half.
Real Salt Lake came out of the locker room with confidence, controlling the game and pressuring from the opening whistle. Javier Morales should have had RSL's second in the 47th minute on a rebound off Kasey Keller, kept out only by Keller's chrome dome. The second goal did come in the 53rd minute, when Morales played a cross into Saborio, who flicked the ball in off his back heel, completing his brace.
The two goal deficit was too much for Osvaldo Alonso, who should have been sent off after shoving an opponent miles away from the ball; the lenient referee, Mark Geiger, let him off with just a caution.
Real Salt Lake did an excellent job slowing down the game after the second goal, further frustrating the Flounders, who managed one more chance on a Fernandez cross that nearly fell in. In spite of the slower pace, Saborio had two chances at a hat trick in the 70th and 71st minutes. Seattle responded by subbing in Roger Levesque, but the personnel change somehow failed to inject any more potency into the Sounders' attack.
Salt Lake continued their relentless assault, and in the 87th minute Espindola broke down the left flank, but his shot was parried away by Keller. After the resulting corner kick, Ned Grabavoy found a loose ball and shot from a tight angle, and it glanced in for Salt Lake's third goal. A few minutes later it was Fredy Montero who couldn't deal with losing, tripping Nick Rimando as he carried the ball from the touchline. It was the only time in the match Rimando was troubled at all by a Sounders attacker.
With a three goal deficit in the bipedal contest, Seattle will have quite the mountain to climb on Wednesday. RSL will have the luxury of being able to sit back and let Seattle flounder about for three goals at home. Should be another fun game to watch!