In their first match since Freddy Juarez took over as interim head coach, Real Salt Lake got goals from Sam Johnson, Albert Rusnak and Corey Baird to win 3-0 over Seattle Sounders FC at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The first half pivoted on two plays within a minute of each other just over midway through the half. First, the Sounders looked poised to score with Raul Ruidiaz bearing down on goal, but Justen Glad came through for RSL with a perfectly-timed slide tackle. Then, Aaron Herrera sprung Johnson into Seattle's final third. Johnson did the rest of the work, finishing by caroming his shot off Jordy Delem for his ninth goal of the year. Seattle, meanwhile, finished the half without a shot on goal and a 9-3 total shot disadvantage.
RSL doubled their lead in the 71st minute, working a ball along Seattle's 18, with Baird finding Damir Kreilach, who then passed up his chance for a shot, instead setting up Rusnak for his ninth goal of the year and a more comfortable margin. Then, nearing the end of regulation, Kreilach sprung Baird on a run resulting in an emphatic goal and an insurmountable lead.
- THE BIG PICTURE: RSL leapfrogged Seattle to take hold of third place (for now) in the crowded West race, where it seems every result will matter for at least the top eight teams the rest of the way. RSL clearly passed their initial test in the transition out of the Mike Petke Era. Seattle, meanwhile, gets to follow their trip to Utah with a trip to SoCal to face the Galaxy on Saturday.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The Rusnak goal, the result of unselfish play followed by a Designated Player owning the moment, tipped the match decisively in the host's favor.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Kreilach wasn't able to score himself, but he provided two assists to place the match well out of reach, and did work on the defensive side as well.