Two second-half goals lifts RSL to a much-needed win as Sounders went scoreless for its second consecutive match.
SANDY, Utah — It ended in the pouring rain, a 13-match Sounders unbeaten streak snapped in the unseasonable Utah cold.
The Seattle Sounders struggled to a 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on Saturday night in a match that a desperate RSL side needed to keep its tenuous hold on a playoff spot.
“I think they caught us on two balls that we gave away in the wrong parts of the field, and they made us pay,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “That’s a team that was hungry, that’s a team that took its chances and came up with two goals.”
The first half ended scoreless, a finishing touch abandoning both teams in slippery conditions. But RSL came out firing in the second half.
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In the 52nd minute, Real Salt Lake forward Jefferson Savarino hammered home a deft ball from midfielder Albert Rusnak, making the score 1-0.
Fourteen minutes later, Seattle was pleading for a penalty after Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan took a tumble in the box, but the referee waved it off. In the ensuing counterattack, RSL forward Joao Plata switched the field and found Savarino — who charged forward and sent in a cross from the right side of the box.
It found RSL midfielder Luke Mulholland, who guided it into the back of the net past a helpless Stefan Frei in the 66th minute.
Seattle had a significant early chance, with forward Will Bruin running free on goal in the sixth minute before nudging the ball around RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, but defender Justen Glad corralled him and poked the ball away just before he could unleash a shot at an empty net.
RSL outshot Seattle 13-11 and had five shots on goal to the Sounders’ four, leading to a second straight scoreless match for the Sounders and another loss in a stadium where the Sounders have won only once.
“Better opportunities will come if you keep possession of the ball and move them around,” Schmetzer said. “We’re just searching for that one guy to come and break us out of this slump.”
Savarino and Rusnak gave Seattle’s defense fits all night, switching the run of play quickly and connecting with dangerous chances throughout.
Seattle forward Clint Dempsey had a chance late in stoppage time to narrow the deficit on a quickly taken free kick, but Rimando pushed the low-driven ball wide.
Frei said the Sounders lacked sharpness in finishing and were sloppy in midfield possession — leading to the two decisive goals.
“We gave away some silly balls in the back and got punished,” he said. “Every streak comes to an end, and an ending can be a new beginning.”
Seattle will get a quick chance to get back on track Wednesday against the rival Vancouver Whitecaps at home in an increasingly tightening Western Conference playoff picture.
“I don’t think those guys care about a 13-game unbeaten streak,” Schmetzer said. “They care about winning games and making the playoffs on a good run. So that’s all that matters.”