The first half was a sloppy one for Seattle, yet filled with plenty of opportunities. The Sounders looked sloppy with the ball in the first 45. They had a passing accuracy of only 72.4%, which led to Real Salt Lake winning the possession battle at 62%. Despite that, Seattle still had the better chances at getting the opening goal. Big shots by Lodeiro and Ruidíaz just couldn’t find the back of the net. Heading into halftime, RSL had to be the team feeling better.
That good feeling didn’t last into the second half.
The man that has been nicknamed the Goose, Gustav Svensson, headed in the opening goal in the 64th minute. The assist went to Nicolás Lodeiro, who put his corner kick right where it needed to be. With the 1-0 lead, momentum was on the Rave Green’s side and they didn’t look back.
In the 81st minute Ruidíaz found Nico, who rocketed a shot past Nick Rimando for the 2-0 advantage. The two of them helped lead Seattle all season, and sealed their trip to the conference finals.
The win is arguably one of Seattle’s strangest of the year. On paper, they were dominated by RSL in every category other than shots. The Sounders had an even worse passing percentage in the second half, but as coach Brian Schmetzer said, that’s soccer.
“That’s the funny thing about soccer… They won the possession, but we had the better chances.”
Better chances they did, Seattle had 10 shots on goal to RSL’s 1. At the end of the day, it’s all about putting the ball in the back of the net.
Another big thing to come out of the match was the fact that Seattle had a shutout. They ended the regular season with two shutouts, but had struggled as of late in the playoffs when it came to giving up goals. They hadn’t had a playoff shutout since 2017, when they didn’t give up a goal until the MLS Cup Final. A very good sign as they continue their playoff push.
Well, that all depends on tomorrow. The LA Galaxy and LAFC will face off in the other semifinal match. If LAFC wins, who is the number 1 seed in the West, Seattle will travel to LA next week. If the Galaxy win, then the Sounders will host the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday the 29th.
The Sounders are 0-1-1 vs LAFC this season, with a 4-1 loss in Los Angeles back in April. On the other hand, they are 1-1-0 vs the Galaxy in their two regular season meetings. The win came at home in that 4-3 shootout on the first day of September.