Recap: Seattle Sounders FC 0 (5), Real Salt Lake 0 (6)

Seattle Sounders FC outshot Real Salt Lake 21-0 through 120 minutes at Lumen Field on Tuesday night, yet fell one kick short in the 6-5 penalty shootout as the visitors caused a dramatic upset in the final Round One matchup of the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Goalkeeper David Ochoa was the hero for RSL, saving Kelyn Rowe's kick, the 11th of the shootout, before Justen Glad scored the winning kick with the help of a post and a kind bounce. RSL, the Western Conference's seventh seed, will now visit third-seeded Sporting Kansas City in the Conference Semifinals on Sunday (3 pm ET | ABC, ESPN Deportes).

The first half involved the Sounders doing all they could to involve Jordan Morris – in his first start since MLS Cup 2020 following a long journey back from an ACL tear – yet neither team landed a shot on goal. That included one incredible loud-noises sequence in the 15th minute, in which Morris, Brad Smith and Cristian Roldan all had shots blocked en route to RSL extinguishing that threat.

Though Morris was the most involved in Seattle's offense, Fredy Montero had a prime chance to get the Sounders on the scoreboard as halftime approached, but put his 36th-minute attempt wide of the target.

Seattle sought to change things up at the start of the second half by bringing Raul Ruidiaz on, and things got a little more positive for the hosts, with Nicolas Benezet managing the match's first shot on goal in the 47th minute. Morris also had a 50th-minute chance during a full-on Sounders counter-attack but chipped his shot well over the crossbar to leave the home fans wanting.

Then, in the 73rd minute, Ruidiaz took a speculative shot from distance that RSL goalkeeper David Ochoa leaped for, grateful to see the potential opener rebound off where crossbar meets post.

The pattern continued as the game stretched into extra time. A 113rd-minute Roldan header, assisted by Lodeiro, that Ochoa was able to save, and then a 117th-minute handball shout in front of the RSL goal on Justen Glad that wasn't awarded.

In the PK sequence, Pablo Ruiz got to redo his attempt, which was blocked by Stefan Frei but ruled to be aided by encroachment, and the teams converted all PKs until sudden death. Then Rowe was blocked on his attempt in the sixth round, and Glad sent his attempt home after touching both Frei, then one post, then the other for the shocking conclusion.


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Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: RSL, who started the season with a great number of observers not expecting much from them, are now just two wins from reaching MLS Cup on Dec. 11. It’s incredible that they vanquished the Sounders without a single shot through 120 minutes – let alone a shot on goal – but they did it. Now, they venture to the place where they snuck into the playoffs on Decision Day against a team that looked vulnerable down the stretch – but most definitely did not in their Round One match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. For Seattle, it’s a disappointment to be sure, given that they started the season with a 13-match invincibles bid, and could have gone home winners 45 minutes earlier had the Ruidiaz shot been a few inches lower.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It all came down to one moment at the end, with Glad the unlikely but definitive hero.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Ochoa put on a masterclass of the dark arts, frustrating the Sounders when he had to, and making the key PK save when he had to. Seattle fans booed him as he time-wasted in the latter stages of the match, and they’ll definitely boo him when RSL come to Lumen Field for their first Pacific Northwest rematch in 2022. And Ochoa will love every minute of it.

Next Up

  • SEA: End of 2021 season
  • RSL: Western Conference Semifinals at Sporting Kansas City | Sunday, Nov. 28, 3 pm ET (ABC, ESPN Deportes)