The rigors of the last week finally caught up to the Seattle Sounders.
Seattle fell 2-1 to Real Salt Lake Saturday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium, unable to recover after allowing both goals early in the second half. The match was Seattle’s third in seven days, following last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Houston and Wednesday night’s 6-0 rout of Chicago in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.
This time, however, the Sounders were without forward Obafemi Martins (suspension) and midfielder Marco Pappa (hamstring), and Brad Evans was pulled out at halftime after suffering a hamstring injury of his own.
The Sounders just couldn’t quite handle it all.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game going in,” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I think when you consider everything with us having to travel, the amount of games we’ve played, for us to come back from 2-0 to 2-1 and then continue to put chances forward, I thought it was a good character showing from the team.”
Seattle were able to combat their depth issue, in part due to more strong play from sparkplug substitute Chad Barrett. Barrett scored Seattle’s lone goal in the 72nd minute and got close to a late equalizer in stoppage time as well.
“He’s a brilliant player,” Seattle midfielder Andy Rose said of Barrett. “I think his biggest asset for us is just he’s a great soccer mind really…He’s definitely a huge part of the team.”
Seattle managed to withstand Salt Lake’s first-half push, escaping the opening frame with a scoreless stalemate. But RSL scored both of their goals within four minutes of each other, putting the Sounders in a hole from which they couldn’t escape.
“I thought we managed the game pretty well in the first half,” Schmid said. “In the second half we made two individual mistakes. A player loses his mark on Joao Plata, and he heads it in. Then we have a ball that we can clear, and we don’t clear, so those two individual mistakes cost us.”
Seattle forward Clint Dempsey said the heat, altitude and early kickoff made it all the more difficult to keep pace with an RSL squad that pressured the Sounders throughout the game.
“With the heat and everything, it’s going to be a slow tempo game,” Dempsey said. “For us, coming here and dealing with the altitude, we tried to manage that first half so we could make a push in the second. Obviously, you don’t want to concede two goals, but we tried to fight back, but at the end of the day, we didn’t have enough to make it happen.”