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No room for error: Another late goal costs Sounders points

The Sounders saw what would have been an ugly but well-earned win slip through their fingers thanks to a deep stoppage time equalizer against RSL.

Last Updated
6 min read
Max Aquino Photography

SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders had a chance at revenge when they hosted Real Salt Lake at Lumen Field on Wednesday night. A late VAR decision and a poor defensive play on the other end deep in stoppage time combined to allow another lead to slip away as the Sounders were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw.

The first half had its moments, but while both sides had looks at goal neither team truly threatened. RSL had an early look when Yeimar committed a foul at the edge of the box that the visitors wanted to be a penalty, but the play clearly occurred outside the area. The closest anyone came to putting one in the back of the net was an 11th minute effort from 50 yards out by Raúl Ruidíaz, who once again saw a goalkeeper with less than ideal positioning and tried to capitalize. Gavin Beavers seemed to have it covered, but slipped late and only was able to get a hand to the ball to push it out for a corner.

Obed Vargas and Cristian Roldan both forced saves out of Beavers as the half went on, but the two sides went into halftime level at 0-0. Coming out of halftime the Sounders were the more aggressive, creating a handful of chances in the opening 20 minutes or so. Seattle found the breakthrough in the 68th minute from Albert Rusnák with a well-taken free kick. From about 30 yards out Rusnák clearly set the GK up for a cross to the far post, then stepped up and hit his shot hard and low to the near post as it skipped along the turf and into the back of the net.

Following the goal, RSL just about took over proceedings. In the final 20 minutes plus stoppage time, the visitors outshot Seattle 10-2 including the equalizer. That doesn’t include the goal that the Sounders had waved off, which was a lovely piece of play. Reed Baker-Whiting was played into space around midfield by Danny Musovski, sprinted towards goal and road a foul at the edge of the box before playing the ball across the face of goal for Musovski to put away.

After a trip to the monitor it was determined that Musovski committed a foul to win the ball and start the play, and RSL were awarded a free kick. From that free kick RSL moved down field for a throw-in and scored on the play that followed as Nouhou got out jumped at the back post, Yeimar failed to win a challenge with Chicho Arango, and no one picked up the rebound from a shot blocked by Jackson Ragen before Andres Gomez could get to it and tie the game.

The Sounders pushed to find a winner once again, but just couldn’t get across the line in the remaining time. Seattle now have over a week before their next game, when they travel to face Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, June 8.

Key moments

2 - Jackson Ragen attempts to avoid pressure with a cutback, but Anderson Julio takes the ball off his foot. Ragen recovers to prevent any real danger.

3 - Albert Rusnák plays Morris in behind down the left. Morris plays a ball in for Ruidíaz, but it’s gathered easily by Gavin Beavers.

5 - Yeimar commits a bad foul at the top of the box. RSL clearly want a penalty, but the foul occurs outside the area.

11 - Ruidíaz tries to find Beavers off his line from midfield and earns a corner as the GK slips while tracking back and gets a touch on the ball on its way out.

35 - Obed Vargas has a rip from deep off of a layoff from Ruidíaz, and Beavers has to make a strong diving save to keep it out of the top corner.

41 - Cristian Roldan forces the save from Beavers this time, taking a touch into the area before letting his shot fly.

47 - Seattle have a dangerous look with Ruidíaz playing Morris in before Morris cuts it back then lays it off for Rusnák whose shot is blocked.

66 - Nouhou collects a clearance on a corner, takes a few touches and hits a worm burner headed for the corner that’s pawed away by the GK.

68 - GOAL! Albert Rusnák looks Gavin Beavers off from a direct free kick, then buries the shot in the bottom corner to take the lead! 1-0 Sounders

81 - Chicho Arango has a rip from 25 yards out that forces Frei into a diving save to his left, punching the ball out for a corner.

86 - Arango gets another look on the doorstep, this time a header that he puts over the bar.

90+1 - An RSL free kick poses some questions for the Sounders after an Obed Vargas foul, but all the danger is wiped away by a handball and free kick.

90+6 - A second Sounders goal is chalked off, wiping away a great play and a workman-like finish from Musovski due to a foul by Musovski in the build-up.

90+9 - Goal, RSL. Coming back the other way, Seattle let the ball bounce around in the penalty area and Andres Gomez slots it under Frei. 1-1

90+12 - Reed Baker-Whiting sends in a dangerous cross that Paul Rothrock gets a head to, but the effort is over the bar.

Quick thoughts

Coffee is for closers: There is what feels like a very real closing problem for the Sounders at this point. There are other problems too, but the struggle to see games out is a very real one. This marked the second time – both at home – that the Sounders have conceded a result-changing goal in stoppage time. It’s the fourth time they’ve conceded a result-changing goal in the 81st minute or later in league play, and fifth if you include the Louisville City FC match in the U.S. Open Cup. There have been two other games – away against St. Louis CITY FC and the Philadelphia Union – where the Sounders won but nearly saw the three points slip away as they let their opponents back into the game, and against D.C. United the Sounders opened the scoring but went on to lose 2-1 following Stefan Frei’s red card. It’s just not good enough from a team that expects to be competing for silverware year after year.

How do you solve a problem like Ruidíaz: Raúl Ruidíaz is a club legend. He’s the all-time leading goal scorer, he’s been an integral part of lifting an MLS Cup in our home stadium, and doing the same with the Concacaf Champions League trophy. He has been – and continues to be, for what it’s worth – capable of doing incredible things. Maybe the biggest problem is that it seems like that’s about all he’s capable of at this point. In a match against the top team in the West, Seattle’s DP No. 9’s best chance of scoring came on an opportunistic effort from the middle of the field. In contrast, his inability to do the more mundane parts of the game was on display, particularly on one play: with Seattle pushing for a second goal Reed Baker-Whiting was on the ball with Ruidíaz running between the two centerbacks with nothing but grass in front of him, and instead of continuing his run for RBW to play him the ball, he simply stopped. He has struggled to impact games, getting precious few touches in the penalty area and taking even fewer shots from there. He had five shots tonight, two of them came in the box but neither had much chance of finding the back of the net. For all the team’s struggles, if Ruidíaz can’t consistently change games as the starting striker someone else needs to be given a shot in that spot.

Something good: Obed Vargas was once again a rare bright spot in what feels like a particularly frustrating game. He nearly had one heck of a goal, forcing Beavers into an excellent save with an effort that may have even topped his goal against Philadelphia had it gone in. He was tidy with his passing, was forward-thinking when he got on the ball and just generally seemed to have a positive impact on the game for the most part. One exception to that was his yellow card, only his second of the season so far, which seemed to come out of frustration and a little bit of retaliation for an uncalled physical challenge earlier. Vargas still has plenty of room to grow, but the 18-year-old is already a steady presence in the squad.

Notable quote

Player spotlight

Albert Rusnák – There’s plenty to be critical of from Rusnák this season, but playing against his old club he showed the kind of quality that brought him to Seattle with his excellent goal.