Real salty: Sounders fall at home to RSL

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Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart Sounders fall 2-1 to visiting RSL. SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders hosted Real Salt Lake on Sunday evening with a chance to move back into playoff position and leapfrog RSL in the process. Instead, RSL completed the series sweep with a 2-1 win at Lumen Field. The Sounders seemed like they’d struck first in the 12th minute through a Raúl Ruidíaz shot that struck the crossbar and deflected off of goalkeeper Zac Macmath and into the net, but the goal was called back for an offside call on Nico Lodeiro during the build-up. Just over the 30-minute mark RSL won the ball in their defensive end and quickly played through Seattle to Sergio Cordova who had only Alex Roldan to beat before he was in for a 1-v-1 with Stefan Frei. Nouhou got back and was able to force an awkward shot that was saved but the rebound fell to Cordova who had a pretty easy finish to open the scoring. After that point it was clear what sort of evening the Sounders were in for, as the disallowed goal seemed to completely remove the wind from their sails. Albert Rusnák leveled the game in the 62nd minute, capping some solid play from Seattle to start the second half, but as quickly as the goal was scored the Sounders were conceding at the other end. Just 90 seconds after Rusnák’s goal, Andrew Brody was unmarked at the back post and slotting a cross beyond Frei to retake the victory for RSL. There were more than a few near misses for the Sounders to take something from the game in the final minutes, but ultimately their defensive lapses and offensive failings earlier in the game left the side with too much to overcome. The Sounders have now played both games of their series against RSL and Nashville SC and taken 0 points from a possible 12. Seattle sit just one point outside of the playoffs, but with the way things are going it seems difficult to believe that they’ll be able to make up the gap. Key moments 4’ — The first real effort of the night comes for the Sounders as Raúl Ruidíaz cuts inside from the left and lets off a shot from the top of the box, but it flies over the bar. 15’ — After video review, a Raúl Ruidíaz goal is called back because Nico Lodeiro was apparently offside during the build-up. 30’ — Seattle puts together their first really dangerous attack following the disallowed goal, this time with Alex Roldan putting in a tantalizing cross that’s put out for a corner. 32’ — RSL take the lead. Sergio Cordova gets in behind the defense, then plays around Stefan Frei before slotting home. 1-0 RSL 55’ — Albert Rusnák plays Jordan Morris in behind and his cutback finds Cristian Roldan near the penalty spot, but Roldan pulls his shot wide of goal. 62’ — Rusnák evens it up! A layoff from Lodeiro at the top of the box leaves no. 11 with the ball before dribbling inside and hitting a low shot to the corner. 1-1 64’ — Immediately at the other end RSL retake the lead. Leftback Andrew Brody runs in unmarked at the far post and finishes first time. 2-1 RSL 75’ — RSL nearly add to their lead, but Frei makes an excellent dive to pluck the ball out of the air. 87’ — Fredy Montero comes close with a header, but the attempt goes just over the bar. Quick thoughts Something is broken: I’m not a soccer expert, there’s a reason that I’m writing recaps here rather than working for a team devising tactics and game plans. I can tell, though, that something’s just not right. Sure, the team has struggled since the losses of João Paulo and Obed Vargas, leaving a still unfilled spot in midfield — although Danny Leyva certainly made his case tonight — but individuals and this team are failing in ways that simply seem out of character. Guys like Nico Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan and Albert Rusnák are regularly getting their pockets picked. The whole defense falls asleep, and seemingly everyone forgets how or when to shoot. Maybe the weight of trying to lift the team out of the slump, only to fall back into it again, has proved too much for their collective souls to bear. I don’t know, but they’ve got to find a way to fix it before time has truly run out. That midfield hole: Ever since Obed Vargas went out injured, Brian Schmetzer has been looking for a possible long-term option with no timeline for Vargas’s return and João Paulo out for the season. The team has tried a number of options, but none of them have really stuck with most of the guys tried in the spot being unnatural fits for the role. Tonight, after having tried Cristian Roldan in the double-pivot alongside Rusnák for a bit, Schmetzer gave Leyva the nod. While he wasn’t perfect, Leyva put in one of the better performances for Seattle on the night, and mostly did the things the team needs from whoever’s in that role. He completed his passes, didn’t give up the ball easily, put in a few tackles and added 3 interceptions and 5 recoveries. If he can build on this performance, it’ll be a good sign for the club. Ruidíaz is (mostly) back: It’s been a while — over a month — since Ruidíaz had started for the Sounders. The last time was July 9, to be exact. He was back in the Starting XI tonight, and looked dangerous at times. He even seemed to have opened the scoring early on, only to have his goal chalked off due to an offside call earlier in the play. While he didn't end up with a goal or assist tonight, it’s undeniable that Seattle is more likely to score goals with him on the field. He’s building back up to 90-minute fitness, and the team has to be careful that they take a long-term approach with his health, because the more often they can have him in the game the more likely they’ll be able to make a real push. Did you see that?!? Things seemed good for a brief moment. #Sounders equalize in the second half! pic.twitter.com/WANxUcWcK7— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 15, 2022 He said what?!? ‘I agree with everyone: time is running out.’ - schmetzer— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) August 15, 2022 One stat to tell the tale 0 — The Seattle Sounders took 0 of a possible 12 points from their 4 games against Nashville SC and RSL.

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