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Real Salt Lake vs. Sounders, recap: Free falling

An awful start and a horrible finish easily offset a promising middle.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s hope this is as bad as it gets. Using an experimental 5-3-2 lineup for the first time this year, the Seattle Sounders turned in one of their worst performances to date. The 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday equals their most lopsided loss of the season and marks the first time they’ve allowed at least nine goals in a three-match stretch since allowing 10 during the late-season collapse in 2013. This all came despite having many of their key starters in the lineup.

The loss also dropped the Sounders into fifth place in the Western Conference, just three points ahead of eighth place FC Dallas.

Key moments

  • Despite an inability to hold onto the ball or string passes together, the Sounders actually did a decent job of limiting RSL’s chances through the first 20 minutes. But all those turnovers finally came back to haunt them in the 25th minute. Following a poor Jordy Delem pass, RSL got out on the break with Sam Johnson running at the backline. Delem arrived just in time to block Johnson’s shot, only for it to deflect past Stefan Frei.
  • The Sounders finally started to stem the tide around the 35th minute and had their first real scoring chance in the 41st when Luis Silva took a pass from Kelvin Leerdam only to have his shot blocked. A few minutes later, Nicolas Lodeiro had a good look at goal only for his shot to be blocked as well. The Sounders went into half buoyed by the improved play.
  • The second half opened with the Sounders still on the front foot. By the time Jordan Morris came off the bench in the 62nd minute, it was starting to look as if they might actually be able to salvage a result. As it turned out, though, Morris’ 66th minute blocked shot was the last time they’d even threaten the RSL goal.
  • In the 71st minute, another turnover allowed RSL to get out on the break. Corey Baird exploited a vacant left side of the Sounders defense, cutting in and leaving the backline scrambling. He passed off to Damir Kreilach, who then set up Albert Rusnak for a well-taken shot from just outside the penalty area.
  • In contrast to the way the Sounders responded to allowing the first goal, they had seemingly no idea how to bounce back from that one. Baird put the game away in the 87th minute — again on a transition play — beating Frei with a well struck shot inside the near post.

Talking points

There’s something about Rio: It’s not just that the Sounders have not gained a point at Rio Tinto Stadium since 2012, it’s that they so rarely even look capable of claiming a result. The Sounders are now 0-0-8 and have been outscored 18-3 in that time. This was the third straight time the Sounders have lost by at least two goals, they’ve allowed at least two goals in all eight of those matches and you need to 2016 to find the last time they scored there.

Sounders are playing like a bad team: A 1-3-1 record is not itself a reason to be freaking out, those types of slumps happen. But what’s concerning is the Sounders’ inability to play consistent soccer. Each of these five games has included at least one half in which they played pretty awful. After RSL scored their second goal, the Sounders seemed to completely collapse and it’s now fair to wonder if some lasting damage is being done.

Playoffs?!?!: The Sounders are still reasonably well positioned. Even after this bad run of results, they’re just two points out of second place. But they sure look a lot more like a team being chased than one doing the chasing. The Sounders’ one saving grace is that the team’s in the lower half of the Western Conference don’t seem poised to make much of a run. The Sounders can not continue to rely on that and must figure out a way to start stringing results together or they’re in serious danger of ending their 10 season playoff streak.

Did you see that?!?

This is what happens when you play poorly.

Quote of the day

“Next time we step on the field, which I hope will take root, is that they can build on whatever their own reflection was after the game and some of my words, and then get their physical preparation down because that’s most important.”- Brian Schmetzer on his postgame message

One stat to tell the tale

0 — The Sounders didn’t put a single shot on frame. Not great.

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