Neagle and Martins lead Sounders past RSL into first place in West

ObafemiMartins (JaneGPhotography)

Photo by Jane Gershovich/Soccer By Ives


SEATTLE – While the Seattle Sounders raced up the standings in recent weeks, critics noted that Seattle’s wins weren’t always the prettiest, or against the toughest competition.

There was, after all, a road win over lowly Toronto FC thanks to an own goal; a home win over the Chicago Fire courtesy of, well, another own goal. Chivas USA, twice.

No such qualifications applied Friday night.

The Sounders confidently shouldered Real Salt Lake off the league’s top perch, riding goals from Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle to a 2-0 win in front of 55,107 at a buzzing CenturyLink Field.

“There were still people out there that doubted us a little bit,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid after the match. “They were saying, ‘Oh, they beat Chivas, and they’re not in the playoff hunt.’ Or, ‘They beat this team—Columbus—[that] isn’t in the playoff hunt.’ Last time I looked, everybody plays the same competition.”

Seattle shredded the visitors early with a flood of crosses, through-balls, and quick combinations, opening the scoring in just the third minute. Martins and Andy Rose paired on a crisp give-and-go, leaving Martins unmarked at the top of the keeper’s box for a volley that easily beat goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

“Whenever you give away a goal in front of 60,000 people with a very good team like that,” said Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis, “you’re going to be in for a very difficult night. For the most part, it was a very difficult night. I honestly felt we got outcompeted.”

Neagle added the insurance goal in the 38th minute after DeAndre Yedlin tracked down a Martins through-ball along the right touchline, raced unmarked into the penalty area, and found Neagle open just inside the penalty spot for a one-touch strike.

“Oba’ did a great job to find me and play me into space,” Yedlin said of the pass from Martins. “I looked up once, and I didn’t really see anybody, so I took another touch inside—luckily the [defender] was pretty far behind me. I just saw a big open gap in there, and saw three of our players. Just played it in there hoping somebody would get to it, and luckily Lamar did.”

“We had talked about [how] one of the things we could exploit was getting out wide,” said Schmid. “We had talked about [how] there would be space for our outside backs, and we had talked [about how] we could play in combination on the outside. The first goal came from breaking through on the left in combination, and the second one came with DeAndre breaking through on the right. It was exactly where we felt we could get at them a little bit, and it paid off today with two goals.”

The Sounders now own the best record in the league (15-8-4, 49 points). They have won five straight matches, tying a club record, and eight of their last nine, setting a club record.

Seattle also hasn’t lost at home since falling to the Montreal Impact in the season opener. The Sounders are unbeaten in 13 home games since (10-0-3), another club record.

Real Salt Lake (14-9-6, 48 points) clearly missed leading scorer Alvaro Saborio, out with a calf strain. RSL was shut out after scoring eight goals in its last two matches, after finding a way to score in 22 straight games across all competitions.

“We had a chance here and there,” said Kyle Beckerman, who went 90 minutes despite starting in Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifier. “We just came up short. That is what it is. Seattle is a really good team at home. They’ve done it all season. It’s nothing to put our heads down. It’s hard to come in here and get a win. We’ve been able to do it the past couple of years, but you can’t do it every time. It’s a credit to them.”

In a physical match, Real Salt Lake picked up six yellow cards compared to just one for Seattle. And based on their on-field remonstrating, both Kreis and his players clearly wanted a penalty kick after Osvaldo Alonso tackled Javier Morales in the area early in the first half.

But after the match Kreis focused on his team’s effort, not referee Allen Chapman.

“I think it’s unimportant for me to talk about the refereeing,” Kreis said. “What’s more important for me is to talk about what we could’ve done differently and what I wanted to see our players do differently to handle the situation differently.”

Real Salt Lake came into the match off a bye week, and Kreis admitted the layoff hurt his team.

“I think it played a factor,” he said. “It contributed to some sloppy performances—a little bit loose with the ball, a little bit lackadaisical in our efforts. Again, I think we got outcompeted.”

Real Salt Lake was 4-1-1 in six matches prior to the bye.

Despite the loss, Salt Lake still sits five points ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy in the standings, although the Galaxy do have two games in hand.

But what should maybe most trouble Jason Kreis—and all of Major League Soccer—is that the Sounders built that two-goal lead with Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey cheering from the sidelines. Both U.S. Men’s National Team players rested until late, until the match was all but decided.

“It’s obviously a scary situation when you’re down two goals and he [Sigi Schmid] brings on Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey,” said Kreis.

Looking forward, both teams are back in action next Saturday. The Sounders travel to Los Angeles to face the Galaxy (13-10-4, 43 points), while RSL hosts the San Jose Earthquakes (10-11-7, 37 points).

Here are the match highlights:

  • Travis

    Seattle was in control of this game for the most part and could have had more. RSL had a legitimate PK shout not go their way in the first half but other than that really weren’t to dangerous. Rose’s ball to Martins on the first goal was inch perfect.


    • Chris

      Borchers’ shot appeared to have crossed the line. Why are goalies allowed to wear white kits when playing with a white ball? Seems to me the color contrast the rules require for distinguishing goalies from either side’s field players should also apply to increasing ball visibility to make that situation clearer.


  • Jesus Kreis

    Run Grabavoy Run.

    I really really really hate to say this but Seattle just knocked RSL out of the SS race. I have a feeling this loss will stay with RSL for a while.


      • Jesus Kreis

        True, it is a tough place to play but we typically play pretty good there. Sometimes RSL takes this loses to hard and it takes a while for them to bounce back fully.

        It’s possible to still win the SS but I’m counting my team out of it. It’s going to be LAG. That’s my prediction.


      • Chris

        What a fair-weather fan you are. RSL’s home against a weak SJ next weekend, then at Vancouver (also looking shaky of late), then the US Open Cup Final against DC United, which I think all RSL fans are feeling pretty good about, then home against Dallas, at Portland (where RSL’s not been bad this year), and home against Chivas. That schedule is very manageable for RSL if they keep their wits about them and keep people healthy. It’s not unreasonable to think they can comfortably claim the Open Cup, take 3 points each from SJ, Vancouver, and Dallas, draw Portland, and beat Chivas – 13 points more than now, for a total of 61 points.

        Meanwhile, Seattle have this coming up: at the Galaxy, home to RBNY, at Rapids, home to Vancouver, at Timbers, at Dallas, home to Galaxy. That’s a much more challenging remaining schedule, and Seattle can’t expect to take full points for the stretch. I think they’ll lose to the Galaxy at LA, beat RBNY, draw the Rapids, beat Vancouver, lose to the Timbers, draw Dallas, and draw the Galaxy (assuming Donovan and Keane are their usual selves). That’d give them 9 more points for a total of 58.

        LA play at DC today, then have a midweek CCL match before they host Seattle next weekend, then another midweek CCL match (in Costa Rica) before playing at Portland, then a three-match homestand against Chivas, Montreal and San Jose, another midweek CCL match (in El Salvador) before playing at Seattle. Given the CCL impact, I can imagine LA taking 14-16 points, which would leave them at 57-59 points total.


        Other possible contenders: RBNY might get 9-10 points from their remaining matches, and SKC might get 9, and Timbers could get 13 or so points, still leaving all of them trailing RSL, LA and Seattle. Montreal might get up to 60 points and put themselves in contention, but only if their team can avoid further injuries, which seems unlikely.

        The upshot is, RSL are hardly out of the Supporters’ Shield race yet.


  • SoundersOff

    Pretty dominating performance by Seattle.

    Dempsey is a quickly becoming one of the most unlikeable players in MLS.

    First off. Dempsey dives more than Busquets at this point. It’s ridiculous. Second off, stop d*cking around. You’re not Ronaldo. You’re not as good as you think you are. Stop showboating for no reason. It’s embarrassing. It’s a slap in the face to the league and the players.

    You know who acts like that? The jackass at every pick up game who thinks he’s better than everyone…. when he isn’t.

    And the league CLEARLY has instructions to the officials–if someone breathes on Dempsey it’s a yellow.


      • SoundersOff

        What entertainment?

        Per MLS Chalkboard…

        Dempsey had 11 turnovers and only 7 completed passes, not including 2 crosses that were unsuccessful.

        He had 0 shots. 0 through balls. 0 layoffs. 0 headers. 0 key passes.

        Why would anybody be jealous of that? He was terrible. I mean really, really bad.


      • hi

        Careful u will get ip banned for dissing garbage performances from a “superstar” like Dempsey. Dempsey will single handedly make people want more money because Dempsey blows and is not worth his salary.


      • John

        Do you ever even attempt to have a point? Perhaps point out why he hasn’t been preforming? No, because its easier to just say he blows a hundred times then whine about being banned.


      • Rabona

        Dempsey is pretty much triple teamed every time he touches the ball, yet still is able to find the space for a rabona!


      • Aaron

        Did you watch the game? I’m pretty sure that ball that went off of Beckerman’s head (that Rimando was also flailing for in the background) was not a cross.


    • John

      I didn’t see anything he did you could consider a dive and I was watching pretty close because of this building narrative.

      Dempsey’s biggest problem is the same problem he has really had every where. No one knows where he really belongs on the field. He isn’t a winger he isn’t a striker and isn’t really a 10. You know he isn’t creating goals, then if he isn’t scoring them at some point why is he on the field.


    • Adam

      The Sounders are 7-1 since Dempsey signed, and playing in front of massive home crowds. I don’t have jersey sales figures but in guessing they are significant since I saw plenty of kids in Columbus in Dempsey Sounders jerseys. Call me crazy but I think Seattle is fine with the early returns on their investment…

      That said, the showboating is getting old quickly and he will have to start producing at some point. He definitely does not seem to have the chip on his shoulder that he played with at Tottenham and Fulham. Perhaps the fan criticism will bring that back.


  • Mike E.

    Dempsey is nearing clown status at this point. The playacting and showboating is… anger-inducing. I am actually starting to dislike him. That unnecessary Rabona which went directly to an RSL player when he simply could have put a normal cross in was one of the most condescending things I have ever seen in MLS.

    Seriously Deuce, either start scoring goals or assisting or stop acting like a primadonna. Even the fans are turning on him. Was talking with a few Sounder fans that want him benched because he isn’t contributing a thing.


      • Fredo

        Ha! Could happen if Jozy, Johanson, Bedoya, Mixx, Zusi all continue upward trend and Landon gets slotted in at LM or centrally. I admit, for all his faults, EJ plays a valuable role… right now.


      • Dirk Muyskens

        Oh lord, either Jozy really has no service at Sunderland or he isn’t that good. Problem is he depends on others to get his shot off, really doesn’t go and get his own shot and it really shows now at Sunderland. Has no proficient Dutch service to provide him with the goals. I really think he struggle to score 5 goals this year with that crap side and crap manager.


    • hi

      Careful u will get ip banned for dissing garbage performances from a “superstar” like Dempsey. Dempsey will single handedly make people want more money because Dempsey B L O W S and is not worth his salary.


      • John

        If you aren’t going to at least attempt to make an argument then yes you probably should be banned. The person wasn’t banned because they were questioning Dempsey’s performance. Its was because they were in every thread, even ones that had nothing to do with Dempsey. Posting the same one line over and over in a rather childish display.


      • Colin Reese

        He could of at least Klute’d his Joya before he Yedlin Klute Joya’d his Yedlin, don’t you think? The worst Yedlin was his second Joya if you ask me. I couldn’t believe that Joya Joya. I almost Joya’d in my Klute Joya! But y’know what? Every Klute has his Joya and this Yedlin is NO Klute. That much is apparent. Lastly, Joya Joya Joya, everybody. Never forget, Klute Joya Yedlin is the REAL Joya, not Joya Yedlin Klute, got it? Let’s go.


    • Knuckles

      Then those mythical Sounders fans you refer to aren’t fans of the game at all. They’re idiots. If you don’t see the quality that Deuce brings to the field, you’ve no business watching the sport at all. Hell, by his mere presence he draws attention from the other team that opens up avenues for the other players. The sheer laziness of this kind of “analysis” is ridiculous.


      • louis z

        Mere presence? ok…..thank you Mr. Dempsey, I won’t criticize your SON anymore. have a good day.


      • Dirk Muyskens

        Actually he moves way to slow and thats why he is fouled a lot, sure he has a nack for feeling the pressure and getting the toe poke away as he gets fouled, has a decent shot but really, the guy brings no speed or tenacity to the game, it’s like he is playing in cement shoes, I don’t get the contract $ for the benefit.


    • SoundersOff

      He sucked. Call it “hating” if you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that Dempsey isn’t playing worth a 1/10th of the massive contract and fee that MLS ponied up.


      • Link

        He hasn’t been very good in the last two NAT outings either. I am concerned about where his game has gone? One can only survive so long on reputation and at some point has to deliver what is expected. Dempsey needs to figure it out soon. People on both teams are cutting him a lot of slack but that won’t go on for ever.


      • TBag

        i haven’t commented on all this Deuce over reaction but after watching him last night I have an opinion.

        He is still getting in game shape and under estimates the competition. Once he gets his fitness, figures out MLS is better than he thinks and makes adjustments to play within himself…he will make all the whining go away.

        I’ve been in his position – switched jobs and moved markets. There is an adjustment period. It’s normal. Give the guy a couple weeks of no US travel and to settle. Ya’ll whiners are a little annoying.


      • TomG

        Saying he sucks and the other ridiculous trash spewed on this board is just stupid and prevents any actual discussion from going on. Those comments don’t say anything about dDeuce, they’re just a reflection on the commenters themselves. He clearly made some of the best touches of the match last night with some beautiful moves and shots, but IMO he’s trying way too hard to live up to the huge transfer by trying to play his Harlem Globetrotter tricks instead of playing a simple game. Deuce is best when he tries his crazy stuff a couple times per match but mostly plays just a simple, strong game, waiting for his chance to pounce.

        Deuce’s issues are somewhat similar to JJ who, with USMNT, feels like he has to carry the team and tries to be a player he isn’t. JJ is best when he plays simple and limits his wildly optimistic urges and so is Deuce. I’d say 50-75 percent of his touches last night were unnecessarily showy. On one occasion, he beat his man cleanly on the wing with a simple, but sick cutback. He was in the clear on the endline, with no defenders close but instead of driving a simple cross, he tries some crazy scissor cross that looked pretty but fell short.

        He’s not Ronaldo and shouldn’t try to be. What makes his creative plays work is that they are surprising and he’s such a pain to deal with when he’s playing simple.


      • Rabona

        And it was pretty bada$$. Made Borchers look like an amateur with the little spin move that led up to it.

        That said, all the ridoculous trash spewed about Dempsey on this board mostly makes those that are spewing that trash look pretty stupid most of the time.

        Keep hatin, losers. Soccer is, at its heart, a fun game. Dempsey will soon get his goals and the you all can pretty much stuff it.


      • Big Red

        He has been pretty close to scoring a goal in every game. At some point they will go in. Same way it has always been with the national team.

        However, his diving to the ground and whining is getting really old, really fast and someone needs to tell him to cut it out.


      • louis z

        For the record…I have never said he sucks or he is trash. What I have said is that the flops and is selfish in his playing style, detrimental to team play.


      • beachbum

        merit in your observations seems to me

        the dumpage he’s experiencing right now reminds me of what some folks want to lay on LD

        off the bench he provided ideas and created but that rabona was out of place, too hyper imo. he is not playing poorly but instead still trying to fit in to me, not always so easy. Neagle has continued to up his game at the challenge too apparently


    • Pingunça

      Dempsey plays for a team that beat the BEST team and is now, the number 1 team.

      talk your sh*t,..


    • petedx

      It’s not like he is on loan from spurs, Dempsey is that “MLS trash” as you put it, which makes your comment incredibly bizarre on a lot of levels.


    • Neruda

      Dempsey comes on after the games outcome was set. RSL was off in every way. Dempsey was a handful and almost had his goal except kyle b also plays for the US and he’s good too so he heads the shot away.

      I don’t get the Dempsey sucks stuff. Considering all the factors when he came in (US games, score line of the match, still jelling with his team) he did well and will make it harder to guard someone on this Seattle team.

      Sebastian Velasquez for RSL has the ball skills that make you think he has 3M sticky stuff all over his shoes. The problem is when he loses an opponent he doesn’t score or get the assist so nobody remembers it or him. Dempseys little rabona was the same thing. It was a nifty thud.


  • Rudy

    Now we know that Clint dives every chance he gets and is almost useless in the field but what are we to do? It’s not like he’ll get benched or sent somewhere else.
    He knows he’ll start every game regardless of how little he contributes.
    If he wanted to fight for a starting spot he would’ve stayed in Europe


  • wandmdave

    I haven’t started hating him like many seem to have but Dempsey’s unnecessary flair on the ball was off putting. Every touch can’t be a juke, back heel, or rabona. Play some simple balls please.


    • Sam

      Unbelievable atmosphere at this game. It is obvious he is still rounding into match fitness. Without the scoring, I’m glad he gave something back to the fans.


  • TheeContender

    I don’t care about his immediate impact, especially given the good form the rest of the team is showing. What really matters is how he performs in the playoffs.


  • Gary Page

    I turned the game off after Seattle was up 2-0 in the second half and RSL didn’t look like they were ever going to score, so I didn’t see Dempsey, which seems to be the center of the conversation. I would just point out that Tim Cahill and many others didn’t do much their first season in MLS because it is tougher than they expect and it takes time to adjust to a new team and a new league. I suspect that all those hating on Dempsey are the same people who said two years ago
    that Altidore was a waste, etc. Dempsey came in the latter half of the MLS season and coming off his off season. It’s too early to tell.


  • Charles

    Wow, when Seattle signed Dempsey I was killing myself because the Landon haters now had to hate Dempsey too………now they did.

    What a bunch of jokes.


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