Seattle Sounders turn the tide in second half, defeat Real Salt Lake, 2-0

Sounders win
Gustav Svensson celebrates his goal against Real Salt Lake with his teammates on Oct. 23, 2019, in Seattle, Washington. The Sounders won against RSL, 2-0. Photo courtesy of Mike Fiechtner/Seattle Sounders.

Seattle, Washington — Brian Schmetzer said after last night’s match that he hopes someone recorded his halftime talk with the Seattle Sounders. But, for now, what the Sounders head coach said will remain a mystery.

Whatever he said, though, worked.

Seattle, down in possession and shots, bounced back in the second half of the Western Conference semifinals to defeat Real Salt Lake last night. Gustav Svensson recorded the first of two goals, slamming a header past legendary goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Then, it was Uruguayan midfielder Nico Lodeiro who slotted the game-winner on a long range shot.

The win sends Seattle to their third Western Conference final in the last four years. Now, they will wait on El Traffico to decide their opponent.

However, last night, the Sounders big turn-around was an eye-turner. The Sounders were forced to make an early substitution when Roman Torres went down with a hamstring injury early in the second half. Making his MLS postseason debut was Ecuadorian international Xavier Arreaga.

Arreaga’s shift to MLS has not been the smoothest. In his entire career, Arreaga never received a red card. Coming to Seattle and adjusting to a new league, Arreaga made some mistakes. He also picked up two red cards this season. However, last night, Arreaga stayed calm on defense and helped Stefan Frei keep a clean sheet.

Also, with Arreaga on the pitch, Kim Kee-hee — the other centerback — moved to his more comfortable right centerback spot.

After the match, Schmetzer said he has a group that can do special things in the playoffs.

“Soccer is a weird game, because they had all the possession,” Schmetzer said. “We were upset with that in the first half, but we created the better chances. We came out in the second half and we created chances… But Gustav’s goal was the thing that really broke the game open.”

Three Takeaways

  1. The Goose is Loose: Gustav Svensson was pretty much quiet all night. Very rarely did viewers hear Stu Holden or John Strong call out his name. However, he comes up and delivers at the right time, like a veteran does. Svensson is that veteran presence the Sounders need in the midfield, especially in the defensive midfield.
  2. Kelvin Leerdam shines: Kelvin Leerdam is the best defender for the Sounders right now. Brad Smith is usually running up the flank, which is great for Seattle. However, when it comes to overall consistency and an even balance between attack and defense, he’s the right guy for Seattle.
  3. Nick Rimando, the legend: There are goalkeepers that come and go in MLS. However, there’s also Nick Rimando, an absolute legend to the game. Rimando spent 20 years in MLS, staying with Real Salt Lake since 2007. John Strong summed it up perfectly on the broadcast, saying, “U.S. Soccer owes this man a lot.” Rimando went out putting up a major fight, making seven.

What’s Next? 

The Sounders are waiting to find out which Los Angeles team they’ll take on in the Conference finals. If the Sounders get paired against Los Angeles FC, they’ll take a trip down to California. However, if the Galaxy continue to pull upsets against their city rival, the Galaxy will travel to Seattle.

Needless to say, Sounders coaches, players and fans will keep an eye out on that match — and possibly be rooting for Zlatan and the Galaxy.

Either way, the Sounders will take the pitch again on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.

PHOTO: Gustav Svensson celebrates his goal against Real Salt Lake with his teammates on Oct. 23, 2019, in Seattle, Washington. The Sounders won against RSL, 2-0. Photo courtesy of Mike Fiechtner/Seattle Sounders.

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