There was no drudgery in Friday night's national TV game. The contest between the two classic Western Conference leaders was everything it was billed to be. There was dynamic passing, brilliant goals, Rimando did Rimando things, there was a tactical foul for a red card and a last minute goal to clinch victory for Seattle Sounders FC.
When your friends ask you why they should watch MLS take out the video of this game and play it. There were stars with goals and assists (Oba, Clint, Yedlin, Morales, Plata) and there were the gritty guys that play for pure joy that made difference as well (Mulholland, Neagle and Rose). Quick passing and back-and-forth action defined the game.
Sounders beat RSL 3-2: (modern English) Game you should watch again that could convince people that MLS is pretty cool.
Here are the stats and quotes as provided by Seattle.Scoring Summary:
RSL - Javier Morales (Luke Mulholland) 30'
SEA - Lamar Neagle (DeAndre Yedlin) 38'
SEA - Obafemi Martins (Clint Dempsey) 43'
RSL - Joao Plata (Javier Morales) 50'
SEA - Andy Rose (DeAndre Yedlin) 90+4'
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez; Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda (Andy Rose 65), Lamar Neagle (Chad Barrett 79); Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins.
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Ford, Jalil Anibaba, Micheal Azira, Sean Okoli, Kenny Cooper.
TOTAL SHOTS: 22 (Martins 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (4 players, 2); FOULS: 10 (Gonzalez 3); OFFSIDE: 2 (Martins 2); CORNER KICKS: 10 (Evans 8); SAVES: 1 (Frei 1).
Real Salt Lake - Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert; Luke Mulholland, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy (Carlos Salcedo 70); Joao Plata (Cole Grossman 84), Robbie Findley (Alvaro Saborio 68).
Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Attinella, Abdoulie Mansally, Luis Gil, Olmes Garcia.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Morales 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 players, 1); FOULS: 12 (Wingert 4); OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 5 (Morales 3); SAVES: 6 (Rimando 6).
SEA - Lamar Neagle (caution) 24'
RSL - Nat Borchers (ejection) 68'
RSL - Chris Wingert (caution) 71'
Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee's Assistants: Baboucarr Jallow, Peter Balciunas
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Clear and 70 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
Sigi Schmid - Seattle Sounders FC Head Coach
(Opening Statement...) "Definitely an exciting game, for sure. [There were] a couple of fantastic goals-Lamar Neagle's goal. Joao Plata had a great goal as well. There were a couple of good combination goals-the goal from Obafemi (Martins) and from (Javier) Morales, then a goal through a little bit of effort and determination by Andy Rose. We said at the beginning of the season that we are a team that is going to play from minute 1 through minute 90 or 95. That's something we have showed off and we showed it again tonight. It's tremendous to get the three points-it was a big win for us in terms of separation and terms of staying in first place and continuing to push for the Supporters' Shield. Now we've got to rest up and get ready and we have an important game on Tuesday in Philly."
(On playing Real Salt Lake...) "I think the two teams bring out another level in each other. I didn't think in the first half we did a good job defending, I think we gave too much space to Morales. We didn't pick him up enough and we usually do a much better job of keeping Salt Lake on one side of the field, and they did a good job of switching the ball on us and they opened the game on us. I thought in the second half our defending was better and that allowed to then start to create more chances, get more corner kicks, [and] get forward more. Obviously these two teams, and there are a couple others as well, that when you play them you are going to raise the game to the best level you can."
(On preparing for Philadelphia...) "There was a lot of hard work for our game tonight. They've got to rest and recover, we will see what Philadelphia throws out there tomorrow. That is our next game, our next preparation. After Tuesday we will worry about New York on Saturday."
(On Clint Dempsey...) "I thought Clint worked hard. Clint and Oba both worked hard together. We can see that in his numbers, in his touches, and in his running. He was unlucky on a couple of opportunities in the first half, he had some decent looks, but he will continue to get better...It's not always about goals, it's about setting up people as well. He did a great job setting up Oba and Oba does a great job setting him up. They can contribute both my scoring and by setting the guys up."
(On Andy Rose...) "I thought Andy was an important sub for us today. He's got a bounce in his step. He brings that energy-you saw right when he got on the field he went down to the left corner. His fitness level is good, he's worked hard, [and] he is fresh. He's eager to play. Those things together have really helped him. Obviously when we are trying to push forward his height and his ability in the air helps us as well."
(On Lamar Neagle...) "I thought Lamar was much better today. I think in a couple of games he has struggled lately, but today, not just because he scored the goal, his overall play was better today. When he gives us that-and sometimes he comes from a deeper position, not always high on the front line...I thought there a couple of times he was able to collect the ball facing his defender coming at him, and I think that helped his game.
(On Neagle's goal...) "I thought that was fantastic. It came out of nowhere. You don't necessarily expect him to shoot that one and the ball drops and he gets it. He scored a great one against Salt Lake in Salt Lake a few years ago, and this one was from the other side with his other foot. One was left, one was right."
(On early opportunities...) "Early on obviously (Rimando) came up with the big save. I think Oba was a little bit surprised that he was onside on that play. He just hit the crossbar there. We also thought the refereeing was all over the place at times today. But at the end of the day both teams have to deal with it."
(On the lineup for Tuesday...) "We'll see what team Philadelphia puts out there tomorrow. I am less concerned about Tuesday in terms of being fresh or fitness because they have to play a game as well. They will have fatigue. We are sort of going into the game equal. There might be a couple people we need to move a little bit, move around and make some changes, but we feel this group is a fit group and will be able to recover."
(On Marco Pappa...) "He has a big game on Saturday. Obviously he is going to play 90 minutes on Saturday because that is a big game for his country. Marco has done ever so well, he has four goals for them in three games. He has really picked up the mantle for his country. I know that is something he has looked forward to do and something he and I have actually talked about it. I said that it is your turn, it's your turn. Carlos Ruiz is a little older now, so it's your turn to step up and be the man for Guatemala and he has certainly stepped up and has been the man for them in this tournament. We will see how he does in that game. He is going to fly directly from LA to Philly, so he will be there and we will decide if he is going to be on the bench or how many minutes we think he can play."
(On combinations between Martins and Dempsey...) "It's just common. At times I thought their passing was a little off today from what it normally is, but they still look for each other and still find each other. And that was just a great combination. You never want to grow complacent when you're watching it and you got to realize you are watching some pretty impressive and skillful stuff when that happens."
(On the game being stretched...) "It was stretched because we were trying to attack but there were times t looked like fouls to me, and then fouls didn't get called. Then you get stretched because there is a guy out of position, he's on the ground thinking he's going to get a call and the ball is going the other way. It happened vice-versa a couple times, too, where I thought they were fouled and the ball went the other way. That added to the game being stretched. But I really the thought in the second half, even before the red card, we started to get the game under control and started to exert more pressure on them."
(On sweeping RSL at home...) "RSL is a good team. We have to be on the top of our game when we play them. Winning both games at home this year is important for us. Obviously they got the win there, but as I told the team before the game-the win they got there, there were two situations in the first half when Brad Evans had a heavy touch and he would have been in one-on-one with Rimando and the one where Dempsey headed, maybe the ball falls and he shoots it, then there was a through ball that hit a little too hard for Dempsey, so we had three really good looks in the first half in Salt Lake. Even though we lost that game, we were reminded that this is a team that we can get behind and that's what we looked to do here."
(On the focus of the team...) "We want to win games. We want to get points. We want to try to make this a very special year. We have a special opportunity on Tuesday to win another Open Cup and Philly will be feeling motivated because this is their first opportunity to do that. We are going to be equally motivated, so winning always helps build confidence. Coming and winning late helps build confidence because no matter how long it goes you have the ability to come back."
(On the comeback win...) "Again, it speaks to the character of the team. I thought the goal we gave up was a little bit soft and then the one with Morales he was wide open with the box, so we didn't do well defensively, but then we came back and got two goals to put ourselves back into it. One of them was a little bit of a wonder strike by Lamar, but it showed us our character and our team's belief. One-nothin' is nothin' and we can come back from that. The stats in this league are overwhelming that once you go down, you generally lose the game. So fighting that stat, and doing the opposite, is always a good thing and speaks of the character of your team."
Andy Rose - Seattle Sounders FC Midfielder
(On how he's improving...) "Just learning to time my runs. There were a few times I could have stayed back a little bit and been more patient and come onto the ball. Learning the timing-I do a lot of that at training and just enjoying scoring goals."
(On if the team felt as game-winner was coming...) "Definitely. This team always believes we can find a winner in that sort of situation. Earlier in this season we came back an awful lot, and the character of the team shines through. We felt it coming, we were pumping a lot of balls into the box. Like I said, sometimes you have to win ugly, you have to win scrappy. In the last five minutes up a man, obviously we are going to push the game and found a winner."
(On how it feels to score the winner...) "I would feel the same exact way if someone else scored the goal to be honest. We got three points and obviously LA split up the other day against Montreal, so it gives ourselves a bit of a cushion. It's a tight, tight race up there, so any opportunity to get ourselves a bit of a cushion we need to take it. At this point of the season it's a result business and three points is massive. For me I enjoy scoring goals, in soccer at the end of the day that's the main thing you need to work on, but it's the three points that matter."
(On confidence for Tuesday...) "It's huge, huge. It gives us momentum. In this league momentum is everything. We certainly believe in each other. Obviously this club has a very rich tradition in Open Cup victories, and we look to continue that. We are a very different team than we were last year-a lot of new faces. Guys want to win trophies. I've never won a trophy as a professional, so for all of us this is a big game."
Brad Evans - Seattle Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the win...) "I think before this game I was thinking about how we have to beat the good teams in order to be a championship team. Salt Lake is one of those premier teams in this league. No matter how you get the result against them it's always a positive. For us, obviously earlier in the year we showed that character and tonight was a good game for us to score that last minute goal. It shows a lot from us. I think if we can continue to do that down the stretch, especially to be able to push beyond the 90 minutes, it is a testament to the hard work the guys have put in."
(On Andy Rose...) "I think he plays that position different than Gonzo does. He is more willing to get behind defenses and push the envelope to get forward. You play 70 minutes one way sitting-Gonzo is going to sit a little bit more-then bring on someone while a man down who is going to try to stretch and impose his game. I think they did another great job of that tonight. Another goal and he is rewarded for his effort. I am proud of him, happy for him."
(On Lamar Neagle's goal...) "Ridiculous. I had an awesome view of it, right next to him. I don't know how he is able to strike the ball like that, he seems to do that a couple of times a year. When he gets ahold of it, he gets ahold of it. Phenomenal strike, ridiculous."
(On feeding off of Neagle's goal...) "Any time a big goal like that people feed off of it. Right after that you saw Oba and Clint chase after a ball and that set the tone for the next goal. A turnover with DeAndre's pressure, we win the ball, a quick one-two and again we're up 2-1. Any time something like that happens you feed off of it. You feed off the crowd's reaction and obviously when a teammate scores a goal like that it is a boost for everybody."
(On looking ahead to Open Cup...) "We have always tried to have the mindset we are going to take it one game at a time. We didn't try to look ahead to next week. Maybe if it were our first Open Cup it would be different-maybe a bit anxious to get going-but the reality is this is the fifth one and we've done this before. I think that is something we will say before that game as we've seen this situation before. We just need to play our game and play it well and hope you're on the right side of some chances and hope to get out of there with another Open Cup."
Sounders FC Midfielder - Lamar Neagle
(On Andy Rose...) "Even before the game I was like, "Come on and get your goal." That's what he does and that what he's been doing these past few games. It's good to have him and Chad Barrett, both are great coming off the bench getting goals."
(Thoughts on goal...) "Yeah, it's nice. It's been awhile. To score a goal like that maybe I've been storing that one up."
(Importance of win...) "It's huge getting a win against Real Salt Lake in this fashion is great especially going into a stretch like this. We got the U.S. Open Cup coming up next and we're getting ready for it."
Jeff Cassar - Real Salt Lake Head Coach
(On Nat Borchers mistake...) "They are a dangerous team. They have good attacking players. We got caught and you never want to leave yourself exposed 1v1."
(On the red card...) "I haven't seen it yet but my staff has and they feel that it probably was a red card."
(On the effect of the red card...) "Obviously that changed the game. We had to make a few tactical moves and for the most part it worked extremely well. We tried to get pressure to the service but you can't get to everyone. Credit to Seattle for pushing for it but if it's eleven players on the field for us it's a different story."
(On substitutions after the red card...) "Things work out that way. Ned Grabavoy had taken a serious knock before and was starting to hurt. We were playing Joao Plata out of position and he was doing great. He was running out of gas though and it came down to one play. It just stinks that it came down to us getting a red card and then pushing on to get that result."
(On facing Seattle with 10 men...) "I thought we were doing a good job defending. They weren't penetrating the middle on us. When they brought Andy Rose in it was a handful because he was running out of the midfield. I thought we held the fort down for most of it and we even did a good job on the goal. I think there was a foul that happened in the middle of the box during that play. When you crash the box and don't get any of the ball but take out our players, that's a foul."
(On positive takeaways...) "There are definitely positives to take from this. I thought our possession when we decided to possess was fantastic. I think we could have done more of that. We need to get better at that and managing the game. The effort was there. You think two goals on the road in a tough place to play would be enough but I think it's a different game with eleven players on the field. "
(On facing Dempsey and Martins next...) "They are going to run wild. I think it's about what we do. When our possession is good and we are in the right spots, we control the game. It was when they started getting rolling that we needed to be better with the ball."
(On his message to Nat Borchers...) "I haven't yet spoken to him. We will look at the video and see. Typically during those plays there are multiple issues, not just one. We will look at it and get better."
(On moving forward...) "It's time to regroup. We've got an extremely strong locker room. I think for sure our focus will be great this week. It's about getting rest for some guys and getting fit for others. It's about taking care of business at home."
(On Ned Grabavoy's injury...) "I haven't spoken to him but I think he's fine."
Kyle Beckerman - Real Salt Lake Midfielder
(On the result...) "Yeah, it's tough to take. We did a lot of good things and just weren't able to hold on there. I think five minutes was a bit much in the injury time. Maybe that could have been a bit less because we were a minute short of getting out of here with a point. But that's just the way it goes sometimes and I thought...the way we are going to play against anybody, whether home or away, we're going to try and come and play. We're not going to sit in and bunker in or anything like that. We're going to try and play and we finally scored some goals here so that will give us some confidence for next time we have to come in."
(On defending Martins and Dempsey...) "Martins-he's an unbelievable player. His game is just so tricky, especially on this turf even more, so shifty. So it's those guys-Martins and Dempsey-guys we have to look after. But the way we feel is the best way to defend them is when we actually have the ball. So the times we did we can keep them quiet but they're always dangerous on the counter."
(On Nick Rimando's performance...) "Yeah, that's Nick; that's what he does. When we come to places we're going to play and sometimes the other teams are going to get some chances and Nick makes big plays for us all the time so again he did it tonight.
Nat Borchers - Real Salt Lake Defender
(On the red card...) "He obviously had position, he's alone on goal. It's a split second decision, I think we're tied 2-2 at the time and I definitely got him, it's a red card. But then I think to myself Matt Besler does the same thing last week and it doesn't even get a yellow card. At the time I thought it was the right decision to make and was just hoping to get out of here with a point at least."
(On making the decision to foul Martins...) "It's a tough decision; it's the life of a center back. You have to make difficult sometimes. I felt with Obafemi being alone on goal I just had to make a decision there so obviously in retrospect if we get out of here with a point it's the right decision. Since we don't wrong decision for sure. I thought that we played some good soccer tonight. I though that we really moved them around and especially in the midfield they had to make some difficult decisions about who to step to and we created a lot of space. I thought that we were tactically bright and it was fun there for the second half, for a big stretch it was just an open game and I thought that we'd come out on top."