Seattle Sounders FC took care of business in a big way Sunday. It was always a tough ask for a depleted and eliminated Real Salt Lake team to come to CenturyLink and find a result, but any hope they may have had was wiped out in the first 20 minutes through three daggers from Clint Dempsey and Marco Pappa.
Lets not forget the contributions of some other players, like Leo Gonzalez' perfect ball over the top for Oba on the first goal, or Erik Friberg's tackle and immediate pass to set up the third. Or a defensive effort that held RSL to one shot on goal. It would have been nice if Luis Gil's shot hadn't gone in, but in the end it was merely consolation.
Last week in this space I wrote that the Sounders hadn't put in a performance in Houston that looked like a team firing on all cylinders before the playoffs. Well, if this is how Deuce, Oba, Pappa et al. warm up their engines, this is going to be a fun playoff race indeed.
Seattle Sounders FC 3 - Real Salt Lake 1
Sunday, October 25, 2015
Venue: Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field
Referee: Sorin Stoica
Assistants: Craig Lowry
Fourth Official: James Conlee
Attendance: Drew Fischer
Weather: Cloudy and 61 degrees
SCORING SUMMARYSEA - Clint Dempsey (Obafemi Martins, Leo Gonzalez) 5'
SEA - Marco Pappa (Clint Dempsey) 10'
SEA - Clint Dempsey 20'
RSL - Luis Gil (Tony Beltran, Javier Morales) 77'
RSL - Juan Manuel Martinez (caution) 43'
RSL - JohnStertzer (caution) 55'
RSL - Sebastian Jaime (caution) 89'
LINEUPS & STATSSeattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Leo Gonzalez (Oniel Fisher 70'); Marco Pappa, Osvaldo Alonso (Gonzalo Pineda 73'), Erik Friberg, Andreas Ivanschitz; Clint Dempsey (Chad Barrett 65'), Obafemi Martins
Substitutes not used: Troy Perkins, Andy Rose, Zach Scott, Nelson Valdez
Total shots: 7 (Dempsey, 3)
Shots on goal: 4 (Dempsey, 2)
Fouls: 17 (Three players tied at 3)
Offside: 3 (3 players tied at 1)
Corner-kicks: 1 (Ivanschitz, 1)
Real Salt Lake - Jeff Attinella; Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Aaron Maund, Abdoulie Mansally; Luis Gil, Javier Morales, Jordan Allen (Sebastian Jaime 49'), John Stertzer, Juan Manuel Martinez; Devon Sandoval (Olmes Garcia 68')
Substitutes not used: Lalo Fernandez, Justen Glad, Luke Mulholland, Sebastian Saucedo, Elias Vasquez
Total shots: 8 (Martinez/Gil, 2)
Shots on goal: 1 (Gil, 1)
Fouls: 19 (Morales, 6)
Corner-kicks: 6 (Morales, 6)
Saves: 1 (Attinella, 1)
SOUNDERS FC HEAD COACH SIGI SCHMID
"Obviously we are extremely happy with the result. I think we got out of the gate really well; we jumped on them early. After we were up 3-0, I guess it became more of just managing the game. We pulled Clint [Dempsey] early because we figured ‘Okay, we are going to play midweek.' We wanted to make sure he could come back. [Pulling] Leo Gonzalez was the same thing. Guys knew a game was going to be coming either Wednesday or Thursday, it's been announced as Wednesday...I was very pleased with how we came out and played the first 25 minutes of the game. I felt we were good in terms of our ball movement, in terms of stretching their defense and getting balls in behind, and obviously our finishing was good."
On Decision Day:
"I peeked at the scoreboard a couple of times because the scores were up there and (Team Administrator Grant Clark) had the information as well. Again, I wasn't that concerned about who we're going to match up with - we wanted to win the game, and that was our objective going in. We wanted to put ourselves in the best position to get a home game, which we were able to achieve."
On Clint Dempsey:
"He came up big. After the first goal, it was a fantastic ball by Leo Gonzalez, a good ball across from Obafemi Martins and Clint got there to finish it. The other one Clint slips Oba in, Oba hits the shot, goalkeeper makes the save, Clint follows it up - reminiscent of the goal against Toronto. Obviously this is when you expect your players to show up, and Clint showed he is a player who can play for big moments."
On the early lead:
"It was definitely good for my own constitution, and I am sure it was good for the fans, as well. Jumping on them early definitely helped because it established a good rhythm for us early in the game; it established our dominance in the game, and it's a lot easier to know in the back of your mind to achieve what you want to achieve in terms of building a lead and making sure you don't give it away. The team didn't do that."
On moving forward into the postseason:
"We are excited to be in the playoffs. Our moment, as we talked about before the game, is that our moment has to be now. It didn't matter to us if it were LA, Portland or Vancouver, we wanted it to be at home. Now it's LA and we want to take care of business on Wednesday and continue to move forward."
On the new attendance record and another playoff berth:
"Obviously getting into the playoffs seven straight years shows a consistency of the club, and I think that is really attributed to the ownership because I think there has been a consistent approach all the way through. There hasn't been panic...I think when you're consistent, have an approach and stay true to the course, you can do things like that. For us to be there, especially as an expansion team, is absolutely phenomenal. I don't think in any sport an expansion team has made the playoffs seven years in a row in our country. From that standpoint, it's great. Setting an attendance record is great as well - it's fantastic. It really says soccer is part of the fabric of Seattle. It's not a novelty item, it's not an ‘Oh, let's go see a soccer game!' It's part of the fabric, it's part of the culture, it's part of the community - that'd what setting an attendance record means more than anything else. We are a consistent part of the community. Our fans are fantastic; they come out and support us. It wasn't exactly the best weather today, but they were here, and they never shy away from the rain - it's not an issue here anyway. I think that we're part of the community fabric and we are entrenched in the community."
SOUNDERS FC FORWARD CLINT DEMPSEY
On the importance of finishing the season strong:
"It was important for us to get into the playoffs. It gives us a chance to push for MLS Cup, which is our goal. We're excited about our performance tonight and know we have a big game on Wednesday versus LA."
On his goals:
"A great ball from Oba [Martins] on the first one. I just tried to react to it and get a good foot on it. The second one, I was just following the play up, didn't give up, pushed the ball wide then was able to put it back on frame."
On how crucial the timing was on the early goals:
"This is a game we needed to win so we wanted to attack the game and take the game to them. Create our chances and not just sit there and see what happens (late in the game) trying to get a goal. We went out with the right mentality and it was good for us to get the early lead. It gave us confidence."
On taking on the burden of producing for the team:
"I always feel I have to produce. I always put that kind of pressure on myself, but it's a team game so I figured if I played well, the team would help to get good looks in front of the goal."
On his chemistry with Obafemi Martins:
"It's good. I love playing with him. He's a great player and it's kind of like we can read each other's minds. He's someone who can make something out of nothing. You know if you find him in good areas he'll get goals."
On how he's feeling physically:
"I feel real good. This week I was able to train all week and feel sharp. As the games go, I feel good. It took me awhile to come back from that hamstring injury that I was dealing with after the Gold Cup. It was pretty frustrating dealing with that, but now I feel like I'm getting my legs back and feel like I can make those runs behind the back line."
SOUNDERS FC DEFENDER BRAD EVANS
On qualifying for the postseason once again:
"It's obviously tremendous. Not many clubs can say what we've done consistently over the years."
On playing the LA Galaxy on Wednesday:
"Guys have been talking about it already. As soon as we found out we had the home game, it's obviously advantageous. We know they will be hungry reeling off their last game, so we expect it to be an all-out, balls-to-the-wall performance. It's going to be a fun one."
On the early lead:
"A fast start was key today. Obviously it was the third game in eight days for them, so for us those are things you put in the back of your mind, ‘Can we get on them early and change the game quickly?' We did that in the first half. Sometimes games have ebbs and flows, and at the end so they had nothing to lose, so they pushed forward. To get the three-goal cushion was good, but could we have played better at the end? Yeah, but at the end of the day result is a result."
SOUNDERS FC GOALKEEPER STEFAN FREI
On hosting the Galaxy in the Knockout Round:
"At some point you're going to have to face the tough teams, and LA is a tough team. It's good to be able to face them at home. We always play better at home because of our fans. I think now towards the end of the season, after logging so many miles, it's crucial that you get a little bit of time to rest and are also able to train a little bit. For them, they were in Kansas and now they have to fly home and fly out here. I don't know if they'll have any time to train. We can rest a little bit and get a training session in before Wednesday, so it's great."
On keeping an eye on other scores around the league:
"For me, the big goal was that we had to get in the playoffs. I've been in this league for a while now, and I know that if you're in the playoffs, anything can happen. Salt Lake was actually one of those teams that snuck in a few years ago and were the ones that ended up winning it. So that was the main goal, and we had it in our own hands. The early start today helped us tremendously."
On the team's mentality for Sunday's match:
"Just impose our playing style and be very, very attacking minded. Sometimes we try to be a bit too cute in the midfield. Maybe that was one of our problems in the second half, but in the first half we were lethal. They tried to close here and there, but then we would just dump a ball in behind and let those guys do their magic. That's going to force teams to stay back and treat us with respect. So I think that's something that we should bring into the next game."
REAL SALT LAKE HEAD COACH JASON CASSAR
On the match:
"We knew they were going to come out strong. The crowd was behind them. The energy for this game - we stressed it, we went over it, but we didn't execute. We paid the price. You look at the stats - the possession, the shots, the corners - everything is there to get a result except for the kind of start that we had."
On any halftime adjustments:
"We just said that we have to win this half. It's tough to come back from 3-0. It wasn't an X's and O's thing. For me, it was their reactions more than anything. I'm really proud of the guys for the second half effort. But, moving forward, we need to get better both as a staff and on the field, to improve and not have a year like this again."
On the focus this offseason:
"I think that's a discussion for the staff and with [General Manager] Craig [Waibel]. Just looking to get better. On the staff - how can we get better? And how can our team get better and be prepared for a Champions League game come February?"
REAL SALT LAKE MIDFIELDER LUIS GIL
On the first twenty minutes of tonight's game:
"It was just slow overall. Obviously we knew they were going to come out flying. We talked about it before the game. It was all just words we didn't show it on the field."
On the effect of the turf:
"Yes it is a little bit difficult, but both teams are on it. You know I wouldn't blame the turf for this game it is more just the way we came out, are attitude and our work ethic just wasn't there."
On the second half:
"Well that is really what we talked about at half time. Just winning the half. Obviously going down three zero in the first half is not great. We just wanted to come out and put some pressure on them. We kinda took it to them a little bit but it was a little too late for that."
On your goal:
"It was a good play. A great ball by Tony [Beltran]. It probably wasn't the greatest finish by me but you know a goal is a goal."
REAL SALT LAKE DEFENDER TONY BELTRAN
On first twenty minutes of the game:
"I didn't see much from us. That is for sure. I saw a group of men who came out here and didn't show up. If you are going to do that against a team like Seattle, against Dempsey and Martins, you are going to get punished. If we didn't want to play those first twenty minutes we should have stayed in Salt Lake. After that for whatever reason we woke up. That is what I saw."
On being more encouraged from the second half play and winning that half:
"I was very proud of the way the boys played in the second half. You know that even makes it better because if we could have played that way in the first half. That has been the story of the season. We are a good enough team to play against those guys and beat them but we didn't show up those first twenty minutes."
On what he can take in a positive way into the offseason:
"You look at tonight, you look at the season as a whole. You know a lot of guys did step up in certain situations, a lot of guys contributed, got significant minutes that are going to help us in the future and that is a positive. From tonight, the fact that we didn't give up is a positive. It sounds cliche but it would have been real easy to come out in the second half and let them bang in another three. We will look at that and go from there."