The Seattle Sounders were counting on their experience to help them make a deep run in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, and that's exactly what happened in their Western Conference Semifinal clash on Wednesday, as they beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle, who have been in the playoffs every year the club has been in MLS, reach the Western Conference Final for the third time in the last four years.
The teams were looking for goal early, and Nicolas Lodeiro's curling attempt for Seattle pinged off the post in the fifth minute. But neither side found a breakthrough in the opening half.
Shortly into the second half, Sounders defender Roman Torres was forced out of the match with a left hamstring strain, with Xavier Arreaga taking his place. Seattle pushed for the opening goal, but RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, in the final game of his legendary career, held firm until the 64th minute, when Gustav Svensson scored a nifty near-post header off Lodeiro's corner kick.
Lodeiro scored the insurance goal just inside the box in the closing minutes, taking a feed from Raul Ruidiaz and hitting a one-timer that made no mistake to ensure Seattle's passage to the next round. Things got worse for RSL moments later, when midfielder Everton Luiz was shown a straight red card after a leaping two-footed challenge on Svensson.
$4,000 was contributed to the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Seattle came into the game favorites and ultimately showed their superiority over 90 minutes. They seem to be getting stronger as they advance, too, so they should be a tough test for the L.A. team that meets them in the next round. RSL entered the game with no pressure, and should be pleased with a good campaign, but they didn't have the quality in a couple key positions to better their counterparts on the night.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The winning goal was obviously the turning point, but also outstanding delivery and a great near-post finish.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: A sentimental shout for Rimando, who made seven saves and put together a vintage performance in his final game. But Lodeiro was the architect to send the goalkeeper out, as the Uruguayan had a goal, an assist and set the tone on both sides of the ball throughout the game.
- SEA: Oct. 29 vs. TBD (ESPN, TSN, TVAS) | Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, Western Conference Final
- RSL: End of season