It was over by halftime. An early penalty and a wide-open rebound provided the opportunities needed for Real Salt Lake to seize a 2-0 lead that proved the difference Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. The honeymoon for new signings Nelson Valdez and Román Torres is over, and only eight matches remain to prove if the Sounders will qualify for the postseason. The 11-13-2 Sounders have never had so many losses in an MLS season.
“I think they just out-worked us,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid after the match. “We didn’t get anything going on a consistent basis. They overran us in the midfield, and we didn’t get our connections going up front.”
The first blunder came in the 11th minute, when an awkward ball fell to the stomach of Torres, but bounced off his outstretched arm inside the penalty area, leading to a penalty kick. Javier Morales stepped up and drove the ball into the right side of the net.
RSL (8-10-8) doubled down eight minutes later. Luke Mulholland took a long-range attempt that bounced off the crossbar, forcing Stefan Frei to dive to his left to attempt a save. The rebound fell to the head of Sebastián Jaime, who directed the ball into an open net to take the Sounders out of the match.
The second half began with the Sounders chasing the game. Three substitutions did nothing to better the situation. They managed just one shot on net. No matter what the Sounders tried, they were frustrated at every turn.
The Sounders played without Clint Dempsey, Chad Barrett, Osvaldo Alonso and Marco Pappa, all unavailable.
There was little left to consider for Seattle except for where to go from here.
“We have to regroup, we have to win our games at home or we’ll be on the outside looking in at the playoffs,” said Sounders captain Brad Evans. Seattle hosts Cascadia rivals Portland and Vancouver Aug. 30 and Sept. 5, respectively, before rounding out their home schedule against LA and RSL on Oct. 4 and Oct. 24.
Seattle has lost its last seven road contests. Now sixth in the west, success will be mandatory if the Sounders hope to book a ticket to the postseason.
Schmid summed up a drab night: “At the end of the day, it wasn’t enough.”