Real Salt Lake was able to weather the storm against the Seattle Sounders on Friday night in Seattle emerging from the fixture with a 0 – 0 draw. The match was not nearly as one-sided as last year’s Western Conference Semifinal leg at Seattle.

RSL effectively dominated possession and the tempo of the match for the first 25 minutes and did a decent job of creating chances in the first half. RSL spent much of the second half under pressure from Seattle.  However, they were also able to move forward on several occasions and create dangerous chances on goal. In the end of the match was a clinic put on by the net minders, with Seattle’s Gspurning and ReAL’s Nick Rimando turning in amazing goalkeeping performances to keep the opposing side off the scoreboard.

Without a doubt Nick Rimando was the Man of the Match, delivering four mind-blowing world class saves and single handedly putting his side into a good position for their return to the RioT for the home-and-away series with a level score line.

A Seattle chance in the second half made for some tense moments when Seattle’s Christian Tiffert collided with Nick Rimando in the box.  His forearm and elbow struck Rimando across the temple and right eye, cutting open Rimando’s temple and breaking his nose. The incident led to 8 or 9 minutes of stoppage as the RSL medical staff fixed up the broken goalkeeper. Nick bravely continued on and played the last 25 minutes of the match with a broken nose and a gash on his right temple, still delivering several key plays to keep Seattle off the scoreboard.

Coach Jason Kreis said of Rimando’s performance tonight:

“I just got off the radio and said it, and I’ll say it again: I think it will have to go down as one of the single best individual performances by any player that’s ever worn an RSL jersey.”

Rimando was more humble about his performance, giving credit to the rest of the team as he stated:

 “These are the playoffs. Big players step up in big games, and I think everybody stepped up tonight, it wasn’t just me. I did my part for sure, but so did everybody else.”

With the RSL defense rounding into top form the Claret-and-Cobalt turned in their fourth straight shut out with this match result and have held Seattle scoreless this entire season.  Could this trend be a huge factor against Seattle at the RioT next Thursday?  It certainly is possible!

One thing is sure, it appears that Coach Kreis intends to be the aggressor in Thursday’s match having stated:

“We’re going to handle it the same way we try to handle every game, which is to try to be on the front foot.  We’re at home, obviously we know we need to win to move on, and we’ll throw everything at it, I’m quite certain of it.”

Friday’s match feels like more of a win for RSL than a draw, having now set them selves up in a good position to emerge from the semifinal with a win at Rio Tinto on Thursday.

It will be necessary for RSL to find a way to bury the ball in the back of the net to advance to the Western Conference Final.  They may have to find a way to win without some key players who appear to not be fully healthy.  Forward Fabian Espindola, Defender Jamison Olave, Defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe, and Defender Chris Schuler are all carrying injuries that may keep them from match action.  The prospect of being without the trio of center backs could be a huge challenge for RSL.  We hope that they are all able to get some rest and regenerate in time for the second leg of the semifinal.

Coach Kreis appears to be content with his side’s performance on Friday night and confident as they look to advance stating in his post game comments:

“I think I walk away feeling so proud of my team because they defined the word ‘together’ for me tonight.”

“It’s about everybody; it’s about 11 players.  Certainly, Nick made some individual plays tonight to make some stops on some corner kicks and such, but the 11 players in front of him were simply fantastic as well.”

Lets go RSL! Time to reclaim the Cup!

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