SEATTLE – Friday's much-anticipated showdown between the top two teams in MLS turned out to be a walk in the park for the Seattle Sounders.
Obafemi Martins scored the second-fastest goal in franchise history and Lamar Neagle added another before halftime to help the Sounders cruise to a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake in front of a packed house at CenturyLink Field.
In doing so, the Sounders leap-frogged RSL to take the Supporters' Shield lead, marking the latest point in a season the Sounders have ever held that position. Seattle also managed to do all of their scoring while Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey were on the bench, as both were second-half substitutes after returning from national team duty.
The Sounders came out flying when Martins banged home his team-leading eighth goal of the season in the third minute. It was an impressive piece of teamwork as Martins started the sequence by taking the ball30 yards out and then laying it off to Andy Rose, who was streaking down the left side. Rose caught up to the ball near the endline and sent in a cross that Martins hammered in from about 10 yards out.
The only time the Sounders had scored a goal earlier in a match was when Johnson scored two minutes into last year's game at the Colorado Rapids on July 28.
The Sounders continued to press, forcing RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando into two more saves before 10 minutes had elapsed. Slowly, RSL started to catch more of the match though and were able to generate a couple chances of their own. The best was off the foot of Joao Plata in the 31st minute, but his open shot from about 25 yards out went just wide.
The Sounders eventually made those missed chances costly, with Martins in the middle of it again. This time, the Nigerian international received a pass from Osvaldo Alonso near midfield and sent a ball to DeAndre Yedlin along the right sideline. Yedlin sped ahead of the defense and charged into the penalty box unabated before picking out Lamar Neagle with a well placed cross around 10 yards out. Neagle volleyed it into the back of the net for his career-high eighth goal and third in three games.
The only thing that kept the scoreline from getting worse was the play of Rimando and some quality desperation defending. Rimando stopped a one-on-one chance from Neagle in the 54th minute and defender twice poked balls away from behind on Dempsey and Martins as they were going in for one-on-one chances as well.
RSL came into the match 3-1-1 in their last five and were also one of the league's best road teams, with a league-best five wins and 25-23 goal-difference away from home. They dropped to second in the Western Conference and will be back in action when they host San Jose on Sept. 21.
The Sounders improved to 8-1-0 in their last nine and 10-1-3 this season at CenturyLink Field. They will now turn their attention to a tough test at the LA Galaxy, also on Sept. 21.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Obafemi Martins||A terror to the RSL defense (and Carlos Salcedo especially) all night long. A well taken goal, an assist and could've had a couple more|
|2||Lamar Neagle||Just keeps on making his case. Hit his third goal in three games and together with Martins posed a scoring threat his entire time on the field|
|3||DeAndre Yedlin||Showed great poise and patience to set up Neagle's goal, did the hard work defensively and got up and down the flank well. Will Klinsmann come calling?|