Well Saturday night lived up to all the potential that a match between RSL and Seattle has, unlike some of the defensive battles of the past, this one was action packed from start to finish and had more goals scored as all 5 of their 2012 meetings (3 0-0 draws & 2 1-0 results). While RSL was clearly the more offensive minded team on the night, the Sounders weren’t afraid to take their chances whenever they could find them. Still with an overwhelming 25 to 8 edge in shots taken, this match could easily have seen more goals than the final 2-1 score would indicate and the sellout crowd really seemed to appreciate the almost frantic pace of the match. Just a note, this was the 7th straight sellout of a MLS match at Rio Tinto Stadium, so far this season RSL is 5th in home attendance average, not bad for the smallest market in the league.
There were a number of things that stuck out to me, first was that despite being a rookie and in his first start Devon Sandoval showed very well for himself, enough so that RSL head coach Jason Kreis was singing his praises in the post-match press conference. We saw a top notch performance from Joao Plata who had to come on much earlier than in past matches as Robbie Findley picked up an injury early in the match, but not before scoring his first goal of the 2013 season. I also thought our back line played very well, the Seattle goal came off a ball that bounced around in the area and was poked past Nick Rimando, but most other opportunities were quickly shut down by the RSL defense. It was clear that RSL kicked it up a gear for that match, and it would appear that the Sounders perhaps were a bit conflicted as they prepared for their CCL match with Santos (a match in which they would look better but still lose).
It was an interesting match on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium, the pace of the match was almost frantic, the style was almost brutal at times, and it was entertaining for 90 minutes. RSL saw both Robbie Findley and Luis Gil score their first goals of the 2013 season, proving that Alvaro Saborio isn’t the only RSL player who can score. Rookie Devon Sandoval made his first start for RSL, and didn’t disappoint as he quickly won over fans with his high energy and ability to create chaos for the Sounders. While Robbie went out early with an injury sustained on his acrobatic goal, which hopefully will not be too serious, it allowed Joao Plata to get his longest appearance of the season and he delivered some quality play.
So I have to tell a little story about the match on Saturday that I am sure will amuse some, so I often pick on some of the Sounders fans (it really is a minority of them) that act as if MLS didn’t exist until they entered the league, and like history will show of the US vs Costa Rica match in Denver, there are a lot more people who say they have followed the Sounders for decades than actually ever showed up at their USL matches (at least the ones I attended in the late 90’s and early 00’s). On Saturday during the second half their was a lone Sounders fan sitting in the front row of one of the North end section, just behind where I was talking pictures and while I understand fans being upset when their team is losing, this guy made me laugh. Every call by the official that went RSL’s way was deserving of his taunts because the official was clearly wrong, despite this guy having no angle to view any of the calls. Had I not been in an “official” role with my credentials to take pictures, I would have loved to turn around and ask him if he bitched and moaned this much when the Sounders won a match, which of course would have been followed by a “oh wait you haven’t yet this year” type of snide comment. Instead I just chuckled, and as the match ended I turned around to talk to him but he was gone, as the RSL fans told me he had “pouted” off in a storm when it looked like his team wouldn’t get a result. Now almost every fan thinks the official is wrong when they go against their team, I get that, it was the unabashed way in which he so clearly didn’t care about what was actually happening, but rather just watching the match thru what clearly had to be rave green glasses that was kinda amusing. I did fear that he might get a punch in the mouth at a couple of points but clearly the nearby RSL fans were much nicer than I am.