SEATTLE (Sunday, October 23, 2016) – Real Salt Lake clinched its eighth playoff berth in the last nine seasons on Sunday afternoon, despite a 2-1 defeat to Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field in the regular season finale.
Real Salt Lake finished the regular season with a 12-12-10 (46 points), good for sixth in the Western Conference. RSL will travel to California to face the LA Galaxy (12-6-16, 52 points) in the Knockout Round on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. MT, Unimas, KMYU).
RSL fell behind early, but MF Luke Mulholland scored his fourth goal of the season to pull the match even. Seattle found the eventual game-winner before halftime and both teams played out the final 45 minutes knowing that they had virtually assured playoff spots as the Portland Timbers were drubbed by Vancouver Whitecaps FC 4-1.
Seattle put Salt Lake under pressure early, with Alvaro Fernandez scoring in the third minute to give the Sounders the lead.
Tyrone Mears was played up the right side and he whipped a ball into the box. Jordan Morris backheeled the ball through for Fernandez, who touched it in at the far post for the 1-0 advantage.
On the play, FW Jordan Allen carried the ball into the box before being met by the Seattle defense. He wheeled around and touched the ball to the trailing Mulholland, whose shot ricocheted off a defender and inside the far post to make it 1-1 in the fourth minute.
The action continued throughout the first half and Seattle reclaimed the lead in the 31st minute.
Nicolas Lodeiro launched a corner kick into the box for Roman Torres, but GK Nick Rimando swiped away the header for the save, only to have Cristian Roldan pounce on the rebound and put it into the net with a first-time shot that gave Seattle the 2-1 advantage that would hold until halftime.
Through 45 minutes, Salt Lake held 52.5% of possession, but was outshot 9-6 in a tightly contested first half.
In the second half, RSL held a 4-2 shots advantage, but neither team was able to put a shot on target and the match finished with a 2-1 final tally.
The Knockout Round match against LA will mark the fourth time the two teams have squared off in the postseason, with RSL winning in 2009 and 2013 and LA winning in 2014.
REAL SALT LAKE 1-2 SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2016
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 1 0 1
Seattle Sounders FC 2 0 2
SEA: Alvaro Fernandez (Jordan Morris, Tyrone Mears) 3’
RSL: Luke Mulholland (Jordan Allen) 4’
SEA: Cristian Roldan 31’
RSL: Joao Plata (Caution; Dissent) 8’
SEA: Chad Marshall (Caution; Foul) 37’
SEA: Erik Friberg (Caution; Foul) 40’
RSL: Kyle Beckerman (Caution; Persistent Infringement) 48’
RSL: Chris Wingert (Caution; Foul) 78’
Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1): Nick Rimando; Chris Wingert (Yura Movsisyan 81’), Justen Glad, Chris Schuler, Demar Phillips; Kyle Beckerman, Sunny; Jordan Allen, Luke Mulholland (Javier Morales 64’), Joao Plata (Juan Manuel Martinez 69’) ; Olmes Garcia.
Substitutes not used: Lalo Fernandez, Danilo Acosta, Jamison Olave, John Stertzer.
Seattle Sounders FC (4-2-3-1): Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Roman Torres, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones; Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg (Nelson Valdez 69’); Cristian Roldan, Nicolas Lodeiro, Alvaro Fernandez (Brad Evans 79’); Jordan Morris.
Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Oniel Fisher, Herculez Gomez, Aaron Kovar, Zach Scott.
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referees: Frank Anderson, Joe Fletcher
Fourth Official: David Gantar
Weather: Cloudy and 56