SEATTLE – Real Salt Lake were in prime position to pick up ground in the Western Conference playoff race coming into their Sunday evening road matchup with the Seattle Sounders.
Draws among the Western Conference leaders earlier in the weekend opened the door, but RSL couldn't walk through it, leaving CenturyLink Field with the 37 points they arrived with after falling 2-1 to the Sounders courtesy of goals from Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris. The loss was disappointing, but head coach Jeff Cassar said it should also be viewed with some perspective.
“Our playoff position is a lot better than Seattle’s right now,” Cassar said. “It was an opportunity to push ourselves further [up in the standings] because if you looked at the other results from the past weekend, they actually worked out fantastically for us. We just didn’t capitalize on the opportunity.”
Sunday’s loss wasn’t devoid of positives for RSL. Armenian forward Yura Movsisyan made his presence felt once again after entering the match as a second-half substitute, setting up Joao Plata to score RSL’s 62nd-minute goal after picking off a wayward distribution attempt from Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
Overall, Cassar said his team’s response facing a two-goal deficit was his most encouraging takeaway in spite of the loss.
“[Our second-half response] is definitely something to build on because there’s no quit in this team,” Cassar said. ”We haven’t quit in one game this entire season and it showed again tonight.”
RSL struggled to contain Lodeiro, Seattle’s newly acquired Designated Player who scored a fantastic opener then tallied an assist on Morris’ goal in the 37th minute.
“That was a really special finish from a really special player,” Cassar said. “But it’s actually not so much about the goal, it’s about what led up to the goal. I think we could have got closer in denying the ball once it went wide, and I thought we got better at that in the second half.”
As Cassar pointed out, RSL’s 37 points still have them comfortably in a Western Conference playoff spot, where they are currently one point short of the third-place LA Galaxy.
Real Salt Lake return home to host Supporters’ Shield-leading FC Dallas at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE).