It's an incredible feeling for myself, and obviously for my family. —Sebastian Saucedo
SEATTLE — Real Salt Lake snapped a 10-straight road-game winless streak and a five-straight road-game losing streak, with a 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders on Saturday afternoon.
Real Salt Lake had lost three of its last four games entering the match, including a 4-1 thumping to Philadelphia last Saturday.
But RSL’s defense stepped up against the league's lowest-scoring team and got what it needed from forward Sebastian Saucedo.
Saucedo’s straight-away goal from 18 yards out at the 61-minute mark, his first of his Major League Soccer career, gave RSL the only goal it needed.
“Empty feeling, man,” Saucedo said. “A lot of mixed emotions. I didn’t know how to celebrate. It’s an incredible feeling for myself, and obviously for my family.”
The Park City native received a pass from Danilo Acosta from about 30 yards out on the left side, saw the middle was open, raced toward the box at an angle and uncorked a curving boot that sailed just over the outstretched fingers of Sounders’ keeper Stefan Frei.
“That’s what I want,” Saucedo said. “Score goals as a forward. Hoping to be in the right path to do that and for my team to be successful.”
It was the first assist of the season for Acosta.
The win broke RSL’s seven-straight road game losing streak in Seattle, dating back to Sept. 13, 2013, while being outscored 17-3 by the Sounders. It is also just RSL's 10th win on turf in 60 tries in franchise history.
The matchup featured the league's second-worst defense in goals allowed, Real Salt Lake, and the league's second-best defense in goals allowed, Seattle.
“We wanted to deny them as much as possible,” coach Mike Petke said. “We’ve given up a lot of goals lately.”
And in front of a crowd of 39,508, the injury-riddled Sounders squad, missing much of its midfield, deployed a new 4-1-4-1 rotation in hopes of covering up its lack of depth.
The new rotation proved to be futile against even Real Salt Lake’s defense that came in with 25 goals allowed on the season.
“We really set a line of where we wanted to be,” Petke said. “Be very compact vertically and horizontally, and they did that exactly.”
RSL found itself in desperation mode for a five-minute stretch in the first half when a bevy of Seattle attackers were huddled around the box and working to get open looks. The Sounders ended up getting off two shots on goal.
Nick Rimando’s collapsing save on a straight-away kick at 23:28 prevented one, and the second save was even nicer. Seattle’s Kelvin Leerdem found himself alone on the far left side at 24:28 and uncorked a shot, but Rimando threw his right leg in the path, deflected it with his shin and sent it flying away.
Real Salt Lake’s leading scorer Corey Baird had an open shot five minutes into the second half from 20 yards out, but he received the pass a little off-balance and was unable put his full power into the kick. It landed harmlessly in a kneeling Stefan Frei’s arms.
Seattle answered RSL’s goal with a free kick that ended with a header by Lamar Neagle from 5 yards, but Rimando slapped it over the goalbox with one hand.
“I think we took much more of a defensive approach,” Petke said. “Not that we don’t do that on a weekly basis, but the players seemed to buy into it. Just because we’re sitting back at times doesn’t mean we’re a bad team or giving up. It means we’re going to deny and be very prudent. And things will open up whether it’s through counterattack or transition. And that’s what happened today.”
After playing four of its last five games on the road, RSL will head back home for a much-needed boost, where it will play three of its next four games. The next match is 7:30 p.m. against the Houston Dynamo at Rio Tinto Stadium.