You could sum up first half of Real Salt Lake’s 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders on Saturday in just one word: weird.
How else do you explain an uncharacteristic gaffe by Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller, a missed penalty shot from Seattle star Mauro Rosales and red cards to both RSL’s Tony Beltran and Seattle’s Jhon Kennedy Hurtado?
Call it whatever you want. RSL will happily call it a win.
RSL got the bounces en route to their first win in three tries in Seattle, but it wasn’t easy. Despite building an early lead when Keller stunningly steered Fabián Espíndola’s cross into his own net in the 13th minute, RSL coughed up the lead when Sounders striker Fredy Montero pounced on a loose ball in the box during first-half stoppage time.
“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you see something that you haven’t seen,” midfielder Will Johnson told broadcast partner KUTV after the game. “And you’ve just got to kind of react, and obviously giving up that goal just before half wasn’t great.”
But RSL regrouped and rode a 56th-minute goal from Álvaro Saborío to the win as the second half played out in a much more traditional fashion. And even the lone freak play of the second half even went RSL’s way, when a shot from Seattle’s Tyson Wahl deflected cleanly off goalkeeper Nick Rimando’s face and out of trouble.
“We came in and said listen – if we were 0-0 or 1-1 at halftime we would take that going into the second half,” Johnson said. “We just had to forget about it, and get back out there and get back to battling again.”
“Taking one today – obviously it could have gone the other way – but you need some bounces every now and again,” Johnson added. “The ball that smacks Nicky [Rimando] in the face [from a point blank shot within the penalty area] is a great example, with 10 minutes to go.
“Obviously we’re pleased with the result," he added, “but there’s still a lot of room to improve.”