SEATTLE – Clint Dempsey scored twice in the first 20 minutes, Marco Pappa added one of his own and the Seattle Sounders rode a quick start to a 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake in their Sunday night #DecisionDay matchup at CenturyLink Field.
Luis Gil tallied the lone goal for Real Salt Lake but Seattle would ultimately hold on for the victory that clinched their seventh consecutive postseason appearance since their expansion season of 2009.
Seattle was all over Salt Lake early, jumping ahead in just the fifth minute after Obafemi Martins lofted a cross into the Salt Lake penalty box to a waiting Dempsey, who calmly tucked the finish by RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella to stake the Sounders to the early lead. Attinella was filling in for regular starter Nick Rimando, who didn’t make the trip to Seattle due to injury.
The Sounders doubled the lead just five minutes later when Pappa took a feed from Dempsey and teed up a distance shot from just outside the Salt Lake penalty box and past a diving Attinella, putting Seattle up 2-0 before 10 minutes had even elapsed.
Dempsey would pick up the first-half brace just 10 minutes later after putting a streaking Martins in on goal on a Seattle counterattack. Attinella managed to deflect Martins’ shot away but Dempsey swooped in and cashed home the rebound, giving the Sounders the commanding 3-0 lead they would take into halftime.
With the two-goal, one-assist performance, Dempsey moved his season totals up to 10 goals and 10 assists in 20 games this season. With an announced crowd of 55,435, the Sounders also managed to set an MLS attendance record after falling just short a season ago.
Real Salt Lake managed to pull one back in the 78th minute after Gil managed to slot an attempt past Seattle ‘keeper Stefan Frei, pulling the visitors within a two-goal deficit. But it would ultimately be of no consequence, as the Sounders would make the 3-1 scoreline hold as the final.
The victory for Seattle (15-13-6), combined with the rest of the #DecisionDay results, means the Sounders host the LA Galaxy in their first-round playoff matchup on Thursday. Real Salt Lake (11-15-8) had already been knocked out of postseason contention, ending their streak of seven straight years of making the playoffs.