Well, wins don't get much more satisfying than that. Massive crowd, resounding victory, fun goals and a scoreline that put the Seattle Sounders into the Supporters' Shield lead later in the season than ever before. The Sounders loudly proclaimed themselves a legitimate MLS Cup contender with a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake on Friday.
The Sounders have now won 8 of 9, including five in a row. In this one, they managed to do it while bringing the likes of Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson off the bench. Once they came on, the Sounders played a formation best described as an "amoeba," which was actually the term used by head coach Sigi Schmid.
There's obviously a massive test coming up next week, but this was absolutely worth enjoying.
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (Eddie Johnson 75), Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, Marc Burch (Clint Dempsey 61), Lamar Neagle (David Estrada 90+3), Obafemi Martins.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Martins, Neagle 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Martins, Neagle 2); FOULS: 14 (Scott 3); OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 4 (Neagle 2); SAVES: 3 (Gspurning 3).
Real Salt Lake - Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Carlos Salcedo, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Luis Gil (Olmes Garcia 46), Robbie Findley (Devon Sandoval 58), Joao Plata (Khari Stephenson 76).
Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Attinella, Lovel Palmer, Yordany Alvarez, Cole Grossman.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (3 players, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 players, 1); FOULS: 15 (4 players, 2); OFFSIDE: 1 (Plata 1); CORNER KICKS: 0; SAVES: 3 (Rimando 3).
RSL - Javier Morales (caution) 33'
RSL - Carlos Salcedo (caution) 60'
RSL - Ned Grabavoy (caution) 63'
RSL - Olmes Garcia (caution) 70'
SEA - DeAndre Yedlin (caution) 79'
RSL - Khari Stephenson (caution) 85'
RSL - Kyle Beckerman (caution) 89'
Referee: Allen Chapman
Referee's Assistants: Anthony Vasoli, George Gansner
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly cloudy and 66 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
* Sounders FC leads MLS with 49 points, overtaking Real Salt Lake for the top spot in the race for the 2013 Supporters' Shield. Seattle also leads the league in wins (15) and points per game (1.81).
* Seattle's five straight wins is the longest winning streak in MLS this season and tied for the longest winning streak in club history. Sounders FC is the only team with eight wins in the past nine games.
* Sounders FC extended its club record home unbeaten streak to 13 games (10-0-3), matching the San Jose Earthquakes for the longest streak this season. Seattle's 33 home points ranks second in club history and the +17 home goal differential is the top mark with three home games remaining.
* Sounders FC is unbeaten in 46 (38-0-8) straight games when scoring first, the longest active unbeaten streak in MLS and second-longest in league history (New York - 56).
* Seattle is unbeaten in 10 (8-0-2) all-time games played in front of over 40,000 fans, outscoring opponents 23-7. The club has won all six matches played in front of over 55,000 fans, outscoring opponents 14-1.
* Obafemi Martins scored his eighth goal of the season, tied for the team-lead. Martins co-leads the league with five game-winning goals, matching the club record set by Eddie Johnson (2012) and Fredy Montero (2011). Martins also recorded his fourth assist of the season, ranking third on the team. Martins now has two goals and three assists in his last five games as Seattle improved to 9-0-0 when Martins scores (8) or assists (4) this season.
* Lamar Neagle scored his eight goal of the season, tied for the team-lead. He has scored a goal in each of the past three games, matching the fourth-longest scoring streak in MLS this season. Seattle improved to 8-0-1 when Neagle scores (8) or assists (3) this season.
* Michael Gspurning recorded his fourth shutout in the past five games, and co-leads MLS with 10 shutouts this season. His 1.00 goals allowed average is tied second in MLS.
* Andy Rose recorded his career-high second assist of the season. He is now tied second on Sounders FC with two game-winning assists.
* DeAndre Yedlin recorded his second assist of the season. He recorded an assist at Real Salt Lake on March 30.
* Seattle's goal in the third minute marked the fastest goal scored this season by Sounders FC. The previous season mark was set by Martins when he scored in the eighth minute against FC Dallas on August 3.
* Friday's match marked the 17th meeting between Seattle and Salt Lake across all competitions since 2009, marking the club record for most games against one opponent. Seattle improved to 5-6-5 against RSL in MLS play, including playoffs.
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(On thoughts of the game...) "Obviously we were very pleased with the result. I thought we came out and played very well the first 15, 20 minutes in the game, which is one of the things we talked about-coming out with good energy, good enthusiasm carrying into the game tonight. We had the goal, as well. I thought we were a little unfortunate not to get a few more goals in the first and some in the second half with some of the breakaways we had. I think we bent, but we didn't give up a lot of chances to them with things that were clean or clear cut. I was very pleased with our team's effort and performance today and we kept on, kept climbing and now we're in first place and now we got to make sure to stay there and enjoy the view a little bit."
(On the steady climb to the top of the standings...) "I always believe and the guys in the locker room always believe that sometimes things bounce your way and sometimes they don't. Those bounces have started to even up a little bit, but the guys continue to work hard. The commitment to defending is something we had already talked about a couple times after the game and got another shutout today. You never know what other teams are going to do, how many points they are going to accumulate, so all we can control is the points we can accumulate. We got to get those games in hand, we got to win those points, and we got to continue to win at home. Maybe our away record isn't as good as it was last year, but certainly our home record is making up for it"
(On a dominant win over a tough team...) "It's a boost for us, for sure. There were people out there that were till doubting us a little bit, saying, 'Oh, well they beat Chivas and they aren't in the playoff hunt or this team, Columbus, and they aren't in the playoff hunt,' and things like that. Last time I looked everyone plays the same competition throughout the season, so somewhere that all evens out. I felt very confident we could play well against Salt Lake. I felt in Salt Lake, the second game, I thought we were unlucky. I thought we played fairly well, but we took goals at bad times-right before halftime and right after halftime-but we were actually in the game the whole time. Today we did a good job of executing our game."
(On choosing to bring Dempsey and Johnson off the bench...) "Obviously that was a decision we made. With the minutes that Clint (Dempsey) had played and the minutes Eddie (Johnson) had on Tuesday, and I think you saw Beckerman out there for 90 minutes and he's a very, very good player and I don't think today was a normal game for him, I think there was a little bit of fatigue. So we decided, 'Hey, we've been in a good run and they are a little bit tired, let's use them off the bench today.' We knew they would participate and help us. Clint was unlucky with a couple of good chances and Eddie was almost in there as well a couple of times. Andy (Rose) could have had him late in there and just missed the pass. It just shows the depth of our team."
(On figuring out the best tactics with Dempsey...) "Obviously we still got to work on it and see how it's all going to look when they are all on the field. That's something we get a few days to train on and we can sort of see which way will be the best way because we need to have the right balance. But I thought they did a good job. Obviously the other team is trying to get in the game, they are playing with more energy towards the end there, but I thought when we got ahold of the ball in the last 20 minutes, (if we were) a little more clinical at times, a little more balance here and there and we could have had some great goals."
(On the formation...) "Amoeba. We can describe it as 'the amoeba.' It floats around, do whatever you want. They went into a 4-3-3 at halftime. They switched from a 4-4-2 and into a 4-3-3 so we started to do a 4-3-3 as well. We had Eddie go to the right side. Lamar (Neagle) went to the left. Oba (Martins) played up top. Clint was maybe more advanced than we would have liked defensively, but offensively he found some good spaces in there. I think they are versatile enough and there is enough hard work there-you saw Oba's work rate-that they can place change with each other, one guy goes out wide and the other goes in the middle, I think those things can get done."
(On the game plan...)"We had talked about one of the things that we could exploit is getting out wide. We had talked there was space for our outside backs, and we had talked we could play combination from the outside. The first goal came from breaking from the left combination and the second one with DeAndre (Yedlin) breaking through on the right. It was exactly we felt we could out of them a little bit and it paid off with two goals."
(On the next starting lineup...) "I don't know, put names in a hat and draw them out. Maybe flip a coin. We'll figure it out. It always has a way of sorting things out. Having quality players is always a good problem to have. We see who is on form, who is healthy."
(On the addition of Adam Moffat...) "Obviously we will see it helping us down the stretch. Adam Moffatt is a player I know well. I was the one who brought him into the league with Columbus. At the start of the season when we won MLS Cup, he started the first six games for us...he (scored) a couple of goals then it ended with an ACL. The last few years he's been with Houston. He's been a part of their team, made it to the MLS finals. He's a competitor. It gives us a veteran guy in there, as well. Shalrie (Joseph) has been banged up with injuries on and off and then Evans has been hurt sometimes as well, but the way Andy (Rose) played tonight, I don't think he wants anyone to move ahead of him in the game. I think you'll like Adam-he is a good, hardworking player. We hated to lose Servando (Carrasco) because he is such a great kid and a very, very good player, but to have someone with Adam's experience at this stage of the season, a guy who is been to MLS finals, a guy who has a great shot from distance, he competes, he battles, it was something I thought we really couldn't pass up."
(On maturation of DeAndre Yedlin...) "It's very important because we've been talking about finishing off plays for him. He's got to be able to finish off plays. The assist he did well with his touch because he took himself into the box. He commits defenders and when you commit defenders you have to make the right choice and we've been working with him on that. He made a great choice and found Lamar (Neagle) coming in late, so that was very, very good. Even on the first goal, Lamar makes a great run to open up the goal for Oba (Martins) and those are the things that don't get rewarded on the stat sheet, but are things as a coach you've noticed. And I think for DeAndre there were a couple of other times where his crosses were better quality. He's got to continue to grow and mature in that respect, but at the end of the day and as a right back, as he matures and makes better decisions, over a 34 game season he's somebody who can walk away with five, six, seven assists."
(On mental preparation for the game...) "Before the game we talked about 'we believe.' We believe in ourselves and we believe today is our day to turn believers out of the doubters. That was our mission going onto the field. All our fans believed, so I'm not worried about them. Just to show this was a team we can beat, this is a team we can play against and we can play well."
(On another huge crowd...) "Keep 'em coming. Keep those big crowds coming. The more we do that, the better it is. Our team reacts well to that-the energy, the excitement. I think the noise was fantastic. The amount of people that stayed at the end of the game was fantastic. I think the crowd definitely helps us and it's a big plus for us. I don't think we'll always have Russell Wilson in the stands, because he drew a pretty big ovation, but we wish him and the Seahawks best of luck forSunday, but I think we are creating something in our own right as well."
Mauro Rosales - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the game and the fans...) "It was absolutely amazing to win against a big team-the first place team going into the game. They've showed already in the league how good they are. Today, we came in with the desire, with all the concentration that we needed to play games like this. The performance of the team was absolutely great. Winning in front of our fans is always is always the best feeling that we can have."
(On looking forward...) "It means a lot to be in the first position now, but our goal is to finish in the best position that we can. We have games in hand and we have many difficult games ahead, so we have to keep the same mentality and play the same way. It's not enough what we've done, we have to push the guys even more because we need more points and we'd like to stay in the same position we're in now."
Clint Dempsey - Sounders FC Forward
(On all the goal scorers working together...) "It was great to get in with Eddie (Johnson) and (Obafemi Martins). Both are great players. You have to talk to the manager about what the best balance for this team will be, but the team did really well in the first half and they put in a great performance. I'm just trying to contribute and get into the game to try and help in any way that I can. I got in some good positions and I got some good looks so hopefully the goals are coming."
(On the winning streak...) "Yeah, give credit to the boys. They're the ones putting in the hard work. They've been here for the last two games and a half today so the team has been playing really well and you have to give credit to them. This was a game that was easy to give up because we were up two to zero. It's great to be in first place, and it's about continuing that path for the rest of the season and continue on for the playoffs."
(On not scoring a goal yet...) "I'm just enjoying my soccer. I'm happy with the way that I've been playing and I'm on a good page with the rest of my teammates. The chances are coming. I thought that the one look I had when I beat the defender and got a shot off was going to go in, but someone got a head on it. I'm happy with the way things are going. At the end of the day the most important thing is the win, it's not how I do."
DeAndre Yedlin - Sounders FC Defender
(On getting a big win at home...) "It's amazing to have over 55,000 fans for a non-Cascadia Cup game. It's incredible. These are the best fans in the league, some of the best fans in the world, and it's great to get this win for them."
(On getting off to a fast start...) "With Oba's (Martins) goal, I think we just kind of brought them down a level and brought us up a level. And then we kind of had the momentum throughout the whole game and you could tell it was going our way."
(On the second goal...) "I saw Mauro (Rosales) was tucked inside and Oba (Martins) got the ball, and I saw an open lane to run so I just started sprinting. It was a good find by Oba to find me-he played me perfectly into space. I got ahead of my guy, took a touch inside and saw an open space. I actually saw Rose coming in, so that's who I was planning to hit it to, but Lamar came out of nowhere and hit it in. Hey, a goal's a goal."
(On being in first place in MLS...) "It's amazing. We can't just sit here and be all excited. We still have a lot of work to do. We need to stay in first, win the Supporter's Shield, and then do well in playoffs."
Lamar Neagle - Sounders FC Forward
(On the goal celebration...) "We were just trying to go fishing. He's (DeAndre Yedlin) just a kid, so I'll have to take him on a fishing trip or something like that. I didn't even remember to do it, but he (DeAndre Yedlin) pointed to it, and so I just went."
(On having Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson sub in...) "It was good. I had already gave my 70, so I thought that I would just sit back and defend, and that was fine for me. I mean what else can you really ask for. You know that they're going to hold the ball and draw a foul, so that was great."
(On scoring three goals in three games...) "Yeah, I'm definitely confident. I enjoy playing up front, and it was just good service from the other guys really."
Zach Scott - Sounders FC Defender
(On what the other teams think of the Sounders...) "I could care less to be completely honest. We're concerned about us and only us. At this point what people say about us and what people think about us has no bearing on us from the training field up until the game. People can respect us and they can disrespect us, but we're going to play the same. When it comes down to it, our goal is to win a championship. It doesn't matter about making friends. It doesn't matter about making enemies. It matters about winning games, and right now that's what we're doing."
(On being in first place...) "It is tremendous, especially with what we've had to go through to get here. We've had so many injuries and uncertainty with who was going to even be on the team. I feel like we've had more turnover than any other year and it seems like there's been more injuries, too. There have definitely been more call-ups with the guys who have been off with their respective national teams. This late in the season it's really about playing well, and if you're in first place going into the playoffs then that means that you're doing something right."
(On playing for a team that brings Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson off of the bench...) "That's a good problem to have. Hopefully it doesn't happen often because we'd like to see them start, but it's a lot of fun to see."
Michael Gspurning - Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On the game...) "I think today showed that we are a great team. It was a great win and it was a great start. We got all of the momentum at first, which was great. I think that we proved something, but there is a long way to go."
(On if getting to first place is an accomplishment...) "Of course we are all happy that we're in first place, but teams in first place sometimes think that everything is perfect. You can always improve and other teams will improve as well. We knew it was a big game and we wanted the first position, so we will fight to keep this position."
(On how close the header came to crossing the line...) "Not very close. Maybe from a different angle, it looked close, but it wasn't in."
(On if this was a statement victory...) "Absolutely it was a big victory. We came out fast in the first 20 minutes and we showed that we were ready to win. It's always good to see everybody come out fast. Of course the guys who came in in the second half did great by giving us a boost of energy. It's very important in games like this to come out strong and to show that it's a game that we're ready to win."
Jason Kreis - Real Salt Lake Head Coach
(On the game ...) "I think it's unimportant for me to talk about the refereeing. What's more important for me is to talk about what we could've done differently and what I wanted to see our players do differently to handle the situation differently. Obviously to give away a goal three minutes in off what started as a throw in, it's not good enough. We weren't tight enough with (Obafemi) Martins. He was allowed to turn the ball basically 24 yards out in the middle of the field, switched the ball to the other side, then cross comes in and he runs in unmarked. Not good enough. Whenever you give away a goal in front of 60,000 people with a very good team like that, you're going to be in for a very difficult night. For the most part, it was a very difficult night. I honestly felt we got out-competed."
(On if the long layoff between games played a role ...) "I do. I think it played a factor. It contributed to some sloppy performances - a little bit loose with the ball, a little bit lackadaisical in our efforts. Again, I think we got out-competed."
(On if Seattle did anything differently than in their previous meetings ...) "Sure. I said earlier this week that I didn't think we'd seen the best of Seattle when we beat them two times in Salt Lake, and tonight was the best of Seattle. Let's be fair, it wasn't the best of Real Salt Lake. When we see the best of both teams, maybe we have a different result."
(On if this was a must-win ...) "No. Of course I would've loved to get a result - a draw or a win would've been fantastic, but I don't think it's done and dusted. It's far from over yet."
(On Seattle playing with four forwards at the end ...) "It's obviously a scary situation when you're down two goals and he (Sigi Schmid) brings on Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey, but our guys stuck with it."
(On what he said after the game...) "Again, it's important how we react. The truth of the matter is, again, I thought we got out-competed and I felt we had a lot of players that had poor games. Poor games with the ball, and it's atypical so I think we can brush it off. We need to get back to work this week, work extremely hard and get ourselves prepared for San Jose."
Nat Borchers - Real Salt Lake Defender
(On the team's performance tonight...) "I think this is one of those games we have to learn from. I think that they came out with a lot of energy - we knew they would come out with that kind of energy, and we still didn't do enough to stop them from scoring that first goal. And then I don't think we reacted well. We were losing the ball in some very bad spots. The whole game, we weren't sharp. You could tell we had missed the weekend. We were a little bit rusty on the ball, and that really hurt us."
(On whether the long break between games played a factor...) "Yeah, you know missing a weekend, like I said, I think we were rusty. We couldn't get in a rhythm. Guys were second-guessing their passing, expecting guys to be in different spots, and we were passing the ball out of bounds sometimes. We've got to be better with that, for sure."
Kyle Beckerman - Real Salt Lake Midfielder
(On whether they saw anything different from the Sounders tonight...) "No, I just think we weren't sharp enough tonight. If you're not sharp against a team like Seattle, they can really break, and they're really dangerous on the counter. That, I think, was the key tonight. We just weren't at our best and we lost to a team that's really good in their place, so credit to them."
(On giving up the early goal...) "We had a chance here and there. We just came up short. That is what it is. Seattle is a really good team at home. They've done it all season. It's nothing to put our heads down. It's hard to come in here and get a win. We've been able to do it the past couple of years, but you can't do it every time. It's a credit to them. They're a good team and we'll just get back at it this week, see what we did bad and see if we can get better next week."
(On whether Seattle did anything defensively that threw them off...) "No, I think for the most part we just weren't at our sharpest. And if you're not at your sharpest against a team like Seattle in Seattle, they can be very, very dangerous and they catch you on the counter-attack. It was a tough start for us to go down a goal that early and we just weren't able to get it back."