And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
The Owl and the Pussycat – excerpt – Edward Lear
Before every Seattle Sounders game that matters, where losing wouldn't only just be bad for the standings but carry some narrative weight behind it, I always get this uneasy sense of dread. We've seen the Sounders lay eggs before, and you never know when it'll strike. So when Real Salt Lake came into Seattle on Saturday riding a 12-game unbeaten streak, with first place on the line, I felt that same apprehension.
There are no guarantees in MLS, especially in a game refereed by Salazar. For the first 40 minutes of the game, it was a veritable stalemate. That ended shortly thereafter. Then the onslaught followed. Sure, you could say RSL was missing more key players than the Sounders were missing, but 11 men stepped onto the field under each respective banner and only one walked away victorious.
It was a lovely afternoon in Seattle punctuated by an even more lovely defeat of the dreaded Western Conference foes. No matter how you get it, three points is three points, but some feel so much sweeter.
Onward and upward, to Chicago next Saturday where Seattle should be favored to pick up their 10th point while missing their World Cup participants.
Time to make like a bandolier with bullets
- So how about that offense? It took a while to unlock RSL's defense, and maybe Gonzalo Pineda's penalty opened things up a bit, but everything worked for Seattle in the second half as they ran roughshod over RSL's defense. Eight Sounders players have now scored 14 games into the season, collectively totaling 29 goals amongst them. In 2013, 11 players combined to score 39 goals in 34 games (excluding own goals). The biggest difference between the past two seasons, other than the rate at which the Sounders are scoring, are that they're spreading it around. In 2013, only five players scored more than one regular-season goal, those players accounting for 33 of the 39 goals. In 2014, the Sounders already have six players who have scored multiple goals, more than what the 2013 team did in 20 more games. Hail Hydra.
- Did RSL's forwards do anything productive? Devon Sandoval maybe won 5% of the balls sent his way, and Olmes Garcia was serviceable in the middle third of the field, but pretty wretched in the final third. He had some Jackson-esque recklessness going on too, not to mention the fact that he required treatment three times due to "injury." With Alvaro Saborio out for a few months, RSL will have to figure something out if they want to remain near the top of the West.
- I really don't like Javier Morales. Yes, he is good, but he plays the game with such an entitled attitude that it just rubs me the wrong way. He's always being fouled while he never commits fouls himself. The way he kicks the ball away after every free kick, or goes down at the slightest of contact, or complains about ever missed call, it's just really negative gamesmanship. Watching Zach Scott foul him made me feel a good inside. Does that make me a bad person? I doubt it.
- There's no denying that Lamar Neagle is a polarizing figure among us fans, and he's had a habit of making ill-advised decisions from time to time, but his call to forgo the shot in lieu of a pass to Chad Barrett on Seattle's third goal was superb and selfless. We've seen too many times when presented with that opportunity, Neagle will just hit a rocket of a shot that oftentimes won't result in a goal. So credit goes to Lamar, who I thought played a great game coming back from injury.
- To end the first half, Salazar called a controversial penalty (surprise), but the biggest shock to me was that he only awarded two minutes of stoppage time, which I felt was woefully short considering the amount of time RSL players spent on the turf in the first 45 minutes. I timed it while watching the replay and between Garcia's 16th minute and Morales's 31st minute injuries, there was a combined 3 minutes and 55 seconds of zero play. Throw in the time it takes for a penalty brouhaha, I was expecting at least 4 minutes of stoppage. Minor quibbles, but when it comes to Salazar, I'll criticize him any chance I get.
Time for some Zach Scott love taps to take us home
- If Osvaldo Alonso scored that 94th minute one-on-one against the keeper, the stadium would've absolutely erupted. Nothing sets Sounders fans off like seeing Ozzie score.
- Can you name a goalkeeper that could've saved Marco Pappa's freekick goal? It was otherworldly.
- Apparently the only thing that can stop an Obaflip is a big damn net.
- Taylor Graham's voice sounds a lot like Kasey Keller. There were a few times during the broadcast I was surprised by the lack of negativity coming from the color commentator, just to remember it was somebody else.
- Nat Borchers has an incredible beard. Much respect.
That GIF really tied the room together
Alright, this is a big game, guys. Let's do this.
Come on, hold it together.
What?! A penalty?!
Well struck, Pineda. Well struck.
Oh my, Pappa!
Seriously, that was incredible!
And now a Barrett goal?!
Everything's coming up Millhouse.
But wait, another Oba strike.
So many goals!
Thanks for the points, losers!
Five point 1st place lead? Yes please.
Well, only one thing to do after such a resounding Seattle victory.
Don't be so sad, RSL. At least it wasn't a forfeit.