SANDY, Utah — Very few people expected Real Salt Lake to walk out of the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal series with a 3-0 advantage. Least of all, the Seattle Sounders.
In a somber locker room, the Seattle players who hadn’t fled for the team bus were left to answer varieties of the same question: How did this happen?
No matter who answered, the responses were similar — too much defending and not enough possession.
“The whole time we were defending, so our team was back and we didn’t find a way to score goals and keep the ball,” said forward Fredy Montero, who finished the match with one shot.
“They did a good job of pressing us,” echoed Sammy Ochoa (pictured above), who started up top with Montero. “It was hard to get the ball. We’ve got to see the video to see what mistakes we made and go from there to get the win [in the second leg] on Wednesday.”
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid lamented that “everything that could go wrong, did go wrong” on a night where Real Salt Lake sliced through Seattle’s defense. In the crucial moments before the end of each half, Jason Kreis’ side managed to score goals.
Defender James Riley summed up the night in just a few words.
“It’s simple,” he said. “We got dominated. There’s nothing much to say.”
The home team managed to switch fields ably on offense and get itself into one-on-one situations. Fabián Espíndola’s speed and energy were a problem, as was Álvaro Saborío’s lethal finishing. Schmid also noted that the opponents were better at winning duels and played more physically than Seattle.
Even Seattle’s composure was absent – normally-stoic midfielder Osvaldo Alonso nearly got red-carded for a reckless 54th minute foul on Saborío.
“They were more physical than us,” Schmid said. “They knocked us off the ball early on. We didn't react well to it.”
“They crushed people on tackles,” he continued. “We pushed people on tackles, we didn't crush them. They were much better than we were in all facets of the game.”
Finding silver linings was difficult on a night where RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando kept a clean sheet with zero saves. Montero flashed a hint of defiance when asked if Seattle could rebound at home on Wednesday night. (10 pm ET; ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com, TSN2; live chat on MLSsoccer.com)
“Why not?” Montero said. “They won 3-0 nothing. Why can’t we do the same?”
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.