SEATTLE — Needing three points badly, the Seattle Sounders did enough. Their 1-0 victory over a short-handed and struggling Real Salt Lake on Saturday wasn’t as dominant or soul-cleansing as it probably should have been, but it got the job done with the goal being supplied by Harry Shipp.
The first half featured the Sounders playing about as well as they have all year. They fired off 14 shots, held 75 percent of the possession and forced Nick Rimando into four saves. But it wasn’t until the 42nd minute that they finally broke through, and it was a bit of a flukey goal.
The sequence started with a corner kick that Gustav Svensson was able to keep alive and push out to Nicolas Lodeiro. His shot bounced around, with Svensson again keeping it alive again before finding Shipp unmarked near the top of the box. Shipp went for the far post, but his shot deflected off a RSL defender and into the back of the net.
That allowed the Sounders to go into halftime feeling as if they had at least gotten something out of their dominant play.
Part of that was due to Rimando, who started off his afternoon by diving to his left to somehow keep out a Lodeiro free kick in the 4th minute. A few minutes later, he was forced to make an awkward leaping stop of a Jordan Morris header. He also made a good reaction save on a Svensson header and stopped Morris on a semi-breakaway (on which Morris was being pulled from behind throughout).
But the Sounders also wasted some golden chances. Morris was able to repeatedly find space behind the defense, especially on the left wing. On at least two occasions, Morris smartly pulled it back and was able to find trailing runners. The best of those chances resulted in Lodeiro getting a wide open shot from about 12 yards, but he scuffed his attempt wide of the open net.
The second half got off to roaring start as well and the Sounders looked to be putting the proverbial boot to the neck. When Brad Evans put in a beautiful ball over the top in the 53rd minute, Morris drew a penalty that looked all the world like it might be the play to open the floodgates.
But Dempsey’s effort was about waste high, within arm’s length and not hit hard enough to get it past Rimando, who easily made his 30th penalty save on 80 career attempts.
From there, RSL showed new life and carried much of the game. After getting just one shot in the first half, they outshot the Sounders 10-2 in the second 45 minutes and came close to finding the equalizer on several occasions.
Joao Plata repeatedly got out on the counter and Stefan Frei was forced to make five saves. The biggest came around the 72nd minute on Plata when he stopped a low, hard attempt on a breakaway. Kyle Beckerman also came the width of the goal post from finding the equalizer.
In the end, though, the Sounders did enough to end their four-game winless run and three-game losing streak. They also vaulted into seventh place in the West, even on points with sixth-place Vancouver Whitecaps but having played two more games.