The Seattle Sounders' 2016 resurrection is complete.
The Rave Green rode early goals from Alvaro Fernandez and Cristian Roldan to a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake at CenturyLink Field, clinching a place in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs for a team that looked all but dead and buried at midseason.
Fernandez got the home side off to a dream start, tapping in at the back post after a lovely flick of Tyrone Mears' low cross by Jordan Morris just three minutes in. RSL leveled less than a minute later, however, when Luke Mulholland's deflected shot snuck past Stefan Frei into the far inside netting.
But Roldan was the man on the spot to thump home from close range after a Seattle corner kick sparked havoc in the Real box just past the half-hour mark, pushing his team back in front.
When the proceeding hour of play unfolded with little fuss, the Sounders had the win, the playoff berth and even the hosting rights for a Knockout Round playoff match at midweek.
- 3' – SEA – Alvaro Fernandez (Jordan Morris, Tyrone Mears)
- 4' – RSL – Luke Mulholland (Jordan Allen)
- 31' – SEA – Cristian Roldan
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- JORDAN GROWS UP: It's still not known whether he'll win over league awards voters for Rookie of the Year honors. But Jordan Morris has unquestionably made enormous strides in his first professional season. After looking overwhelmed at times early in the year, he's come of age over the past three months, scoring clutch goals – and making big plays like the visionary touch that gave "Flaco" Fernandez an easy tap-in for Seattle's opener.
- SALT LAKE SCORING SLUMP: RSL did find the net on Sunday, unlike in their 0-0 home draw vs. Sporting KC last week. And they're in the playoffs. But their attacking woes remain. Mulholland's tally was the only shot on goal they could muster vs. Seattle. Yura Movsisyan came off the bench late as they chased the game, but as ESPN's broadcast team noted, the striker is still fighting a painful heel issue that's likely to hamper him in the postseason...in which RSL are the lowest seed in the West.
- SCHMETZER GITS 'ER DUN: The influence of midseason signing Nico Lodeiro (and less obviously, injury returnee Roman Torres) has been enormous, but let's give some dap to interim head coach Brian Schmetzer. Seattle are a sizzling 8-2-4 since he took the helm after going 6-12-2 up to that point under Sigi Schmid. Will it be enough to earn the job permanently?
- SEA: Thursday, Oct. 27 vs. Sporting KC (10 pm ET; FS1, UniMás in US, MLS LIVE in Canada)
- RSL: Wednesday, Oct. 26 at LA Galaxy (10:30 pm ET; UniMás in US, MLS LIVE in Canada)