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Sounders vs. Real Salt Lake, recap: Clint Dempsey brace leads way to playoffs

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Sounders scored three goals in 20 minutes and then cruised to a No. 4 seed in the playoffs.

Mike Russell Foto

Coming into the match with a full strength squad, the Sounders were flying early and pressing high up the pitch. A well-defended Real Salt Lake corner kicked off a Sounders counterattack that led to Clint Dempsey scoring in just the 5th minute from an Obafemi Martins cross.

It only took five more minutes for the Sounders to score again, with Marco Pappa curling in Seattle's second in the 10th minute. The onslaught didn't stop there when, for the first time in Sounders history, Clint Dempsey put the Sounders up by three in just under twenty minutes after Salt Lake goalkeeper Jeff Attinella pushed Martins' shot into Dempsey's path.

The Sounders let off the gas after that goal, and even though they created a few chances in the latter part of the first half, none came before the halftime whistle.

The second half looked remarkably similar as the Sounders kept possession and absorbed pressure, allowing Real Salt Lake to rack up four shots and a single goal by Luis Gil in the 77th minute. Seattle substitute Chad Barrett had Seattle's only shot in the second half, a stoppage time effort that went just wide.

Sounders fans paid close attention to the rest of today's results, as Seattle's playoff matchup would be determined by where the other teams fell on the table. It's worth noting that the Sounders were as high as second place near the end of the first half, but Robbie Keane's stoppage time goal for the LA Galaxy against Sporting Kansas City knocked the Sounders back down to fourth -- and they were as low as fifth -- but they settled in at No. 4.

This means that the Sounders will face the Galaxy at home on Wednesday to kick off their MLS Cup Playoff campaign. Their 51 points is their lowest total since 2010 and the 1.5 points per match was a franchise low, but they would still host all but the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew if they advance to MLS Cup.

Other observations:

  • The Sounders' midfield looked much better than against Houston last week, with Erik Friberg improving after moving back into the middle alongside Osvaldo Alonso.
  • Sigi Schmid recognized at halftime that the team let off the gas a little after the third goal, but nothing really changed about the club's mentality in the second half.
  • Marco Pappa looked like his old self again today, pulling off backheels and tricking defenders on a number of occasions, as well as curling in the ball brilliantly for his superb goal in the first half.