By Money Mike
The Seattle Sounders had an opportunity to climb on top of the Western Conference standings. Instead, the Rave Green failed to register a shot on goal in a poor second half performance and they found themselves on the losing end 1-0 to Real Salt Lake. The Sounders despite the loss still have three games in hand with Salt Lake and they have a chance to pull within a point of the conference leaders this Saturday when they travel to BC Place to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Sounders got off to a bright start and looked like the better side in the first half. Off a Mauro Rosales corner kick, Jeff Parke nodded the ball down for Fredy Montero as he looked to turn and volley it goalwards but it was broken up by Jamison Olave and headed out of the box by Nat Borchers but not out of danger. The ball bounced to Andy Rose who settled and had a go from the top of the area, but the ball bounced wide of the goal. There were a few appeals from the Sounders about a possible handball in the box, but the referee didn't see anything.
Four minutes later, Mauro Rosales fed an overlapping Adam Johansson who had time and space to send in a cross to the far post. There were four Sounders in the box. Eddie Johnson got up well, but he couldn't get his header on target. Seconds later, Johnson had a player in support after beating three RSL defenders, but instead he went for goal himself and made a complete mess of it.
Salt Lake didn't test Bryan Meredith until the 23rd minute. Luis Gil fed Will Johnson on the left wing. Johnson made a nice cut inside of Adam Johansson and tried to curl his shot into the far corner, but he slipped as he got the shot away and his effort was straight into the hands of Bryan Meredith.
In the second half, Real Salt Lake took advantage of some sloppy passing from the Sounders and broke the dead lock. In the 51st minute, Luis Gil lifted the ball over the top for Fabian Espindola who let the ball bounce in front of him before maneuvering around Adam Johnansson and finding the back of the net with his left foot. Bryan Meredith didn't move a muscle because he had absolutely no chance of making the save after some good movement by RSL and some crappy passing and defending by the Sounders. Espindola made the Sounders backline look bad all match, winning the long balls and outrunning every loose ball like the one against Johansson that led to the goal.
Alvaro Fernandez came on as a sub in the second half for David Estrada who really struggled in this match. In the 60th minute, he had an opportunity to made an impact as he cut to the end line and whipped in a driven cross but it was straight into the arms of Nick Rimando.
Seattle had one more opportunity in the 87th minute. Alex Caskey fed the ball out wide to Cordell Cato who took on Will Johnson and sent in a driven ball into the area for Fredy Montero but Rimando came off his line to punch the ball clear. That's how it was for the Sounders, creating a few chances in the second half, but not able to register a shot on goal. A poor second half performance resulting in a 1-0 loss.
Eddie Johnson had his worst game of the season since he joined the Sounders during the offseason. He's been holding on to the ball for long, he took a couple of unnecessary shots on goal when he should've passed the ball to his teammates, and he also picked up an unnecessary yellow card for knocking the ball out of the goalkeepers hands with his head when the keeper had control of it. He's a veteran player. He should understand that when the goalkeeper has full control of the ball with his hands, you have to leave it alone until it's put back into play. Even though his team was trailing and ended up losing, this is not the time to do something stupid like that. Hopefully, he'll get back on track next Saturday.
Fredy Montero also had a rough ass time in this match. He didn't have one real opportunity in this match because his former Deportivo Cali teammate Jamison Olave shut him down. He basically outdeuled Fredy Montero for 90 minutes. He doesn't need to watch any video clips, these two were teammates at Cali so he already knew what Fredy Montero was gonna bring to the table and Olave made sure he brought nothing.
The goal in the 51st minute by Real Salt Lake was the first goal Bryan Meredith conceded in 276 minutes of work since taking over for Michael Gspurning in the second half against the Los Angeles Galaxy. He has started the last three games for the Sounders since Gspurning was ruled out for 2-3 weeks with a hip injury and it's likely he'll get the start again Saturday against the Whitecaps. If he had another good outing against Vancouver, would he take Gspurning's job and become the new starting goalkeeper? Absolutely not. Michael Gspurning will be back in net when he is fully recovered from his hip injury and medically cleared by the doctors, but it looks like Meredith will get at least one more start in net before Gspurning recovers.
Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson and the Sounders backline weren't the only one's who had poor performances. David Estrada, god damn. It was a long night for him. Tony Beltran didn't feel tested at all against this dude. Estrada is a hard working player and he's doing everything he can to prove he deserves a spot on the roster after rarely seeing any action in 2010 and 2011, but he looked like he was pushing himself too hard and really did not have it in this match. Now one thing I have to disagree on is somebody called David Estrada overrated. Now that makes absolutely no sense to me. Estrada hasn't even played enough to be considered overrated. As bad as he was last Saturday, you can't just go ahead and call somebody overrated when in reality they haven't gotten much media attention and they've recently just jumped on the scene. It doesn't work like that. David Estrada overrated? Eh eh, I don't think so. Personally, I'm not calling him a one hit wonder, but he lacks skill and he's also lacking a bit of confidence. He's probably going to be dropped to the bench when this team is fully healthy.
After that long stretch of five games in 15 days, the players got a much needed day off from training on Sunday. Since they don't have a midweek match this week, the Sounders will have plenty of time to get settled and prepare for their Rivalry match down in Vancouver against the Whitecaps which will kickoff at 2pm. I'm just going to throw this out right now, it's also the day of the UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea. Seattle still has four more games left two play this month before their two week break to start the month of June, with the exception of the U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal on June 5th if the Sounders advance. They'll travel to Vancouver on Saturday then they'll return home for a Wendesday night match against the Columbus Crew. After that they'll travel to Carson, California to take on Chivas USA (who need to be relocated). After that, they kickoff U.S. Open Cup play on May 29th and they'll find out tomorrow who they'll face.
Real Salt Lake - Fabian Espindola 4 (Luis Gil 2) 51'
Seattle Sounders FC - Eddie Johnson (caution; foul) 53'
Real Salt Lake - Alvaro Saborio (caution; foul) 70'
Real Salt Lake - Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert (Chris Schuler 20'); Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil (Jonny Steele 75'), Will Johnson; Alvaro Saborio (Yordany Alvarez 81'), Fabian Espindola
Seattle Sounders FC - Bryan Meredith; Adam Johansson (Alex Caskey 82'), Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch; Mauro Rosales (Cordell Cato 75'), Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, David Estrada (Alvaro Fernandez 58'); Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson