SANDY, Utah – A battle between two of the hottest teams in MLS proved to be no contest on Saturday night, as goals from Kyle Beckerman and Robbie Findley on either side of halftime paced Real Salt Lake to a 2-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The win moved RSL – now unbeaten in five straight – atop the Supporters’ Shield standings, at least temporarily, with 30 points through 17 games. Seattle, meanwhile, lost for just the second time in their last 10 matches.
Both teams came into the match slightly rusty after long layoffs – two full weeks for Seattle and 10 days for RSL. But it was the hosts who settled in first, and broke through in the 40th minute after Beckerman earned a free kick near the top of the box on the left side.
Javier Morales took the kick with a bending shot that deflected off Sounders midfielder Servando Carrasco in the Seattle wall and toward the far post. It fell to Beckerman, who hit a side volley that rocketed past goalkeeper Michael Gspurning and ricocheted off the bottom side of the crossbar and in for the 1-0 lead.
RSL doubled their lead less than a minute out of halftime as Findley scored his fourth goal of the season. Álvaro Saborío’s errant shot landed between Findley’s legs on the right side of goal, and the World Cup veteran turned and put a shot to the far post for a 2-0 advantage.
Seattle – still without midfield destroyer Osvaldo Alonso – struggled with their attack all game, and didn’t even get off a shot until the 74th minute through returning Honduran international Mario Martínez.
Eddie Johnson, four days off starting for the US national team here at Rio Tinto, was particularly absent as Nat Borchers and Carlos Salcedo kept him and strike partner Obafemi Martins under wraps.
Real Salt Lake now prepare to host the Carolina RailHawks of the NASL in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup on Wednesday night. They return to league action on June 29 when they travel to Toronto.
Seattle, meanwhile, have another 10 days off before hosting D.C. United on July 3.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Kyle Beckerman (RSL)||Superb evening from captain, whose golazo was just icing on cake of a lockdown game in defensive midfield.|
|2||Nat Borchers (RSL)||There's a reason Eddie Johnson was a non-factor in this game — he barely saw the ball, thanks to the veteran center back's mammoth performance.|
|3||Khari Stephenson (RSL)||One of the better nights you'll see from the journeyman Jamaican, who helped Beckerman in mop-up work and drove Mauro Rosales in particular crazy.|