The Sounders traveled to Rio Tinto Stadium in the US Open Cup round of 16 to beat Real Salt Lake in penalty kicks 4-1.
Let’s face it, the Sounders are not doing very hot right now. They have struggled in MLS play, currently sitting in the basement of the Western Conference and the Supporters Shield standings. Us Sounders fans aren’t used to looking up from the bottom of the standings to see teams like the Timbers and the Rapids above. The best way to make us fans optimistic again about our Seattle team would have been a big win down in Sandy, Utah in Open Cup play. And that is exactly what happened.
Real Salt Lake came into this game going for the win, resting most of their big names on the weekend against the Dynamo. Seattle, on the other hand, went for the win on Saturday against NYCFC, and brought mostly second team players down to Rio Tinto stadium such as Zach Mathers, Tyler Miller, and Nathan Sturgis.
As to be expect, the Real Salt Lake first team lineup dominated possession in not only the first half, but the entire game, having a 70%-30% advantage over the Rave Green. Seattle were content giving them this possession, though. They sat back and absorbed the pressure nicely and looked to counter quickly though the hold-up play from Valdez and Gomez and the speed from Anderson.
The first goal came from a very controversial penalty call on Tony Alfaro in the 41st minute. Replay shows that Alfaro put his hand on Movsisyan’s shoulder, who threw himself on the ground to “earn” the call. Plata buried the resulting spot kick to put the home team up 1-0 going into halftime.
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Only seven minute into the second half Seattle found their equalizer thanks to a miscommunication in the back between RSL goalkeeper Antinella and center back Glad. The two collided into each other and Valdez was able to pick up the loose ball and finish it easily. RSL had plenty of opportunities to take the lead before the fulltime whistle blew but Tyler Miller came up huge on multiple occasions to keep the game level.
Throughout extra time, Seattle once again sat back and absorbed the pressure, both teams having decent looks at goal but no one being able to convert their opportunities. Into penalty kicks, Seattle sent forward Herc Gomez, Jordan Morris, Zach Scott and Erik Friberg, all four converting their shots. Tyler Miller once again came up huge, saving penalties from Plata and Beckermann.
Seattle will either travel to Portland or LA in the quarterfinals of the USOC, depending on results from tonight’s matchup. In 2011 Seattle beat LA in the US Open Cup quarterfinals. They have played the Timbers four times in cup play, winning in 2009, 2010 and 2014 and losing in last year’s red card wedding.