Hapless Sounders smashed by hungry Claret and Cobalt; record goalscorer spot claimed

Hapless Sounders smashed by hungry Claret and Cobalt; record goalscorer spot claimed

And so it was that Real Salt Lake did fell the mighty Sounders, the plucky underdog quite certainly snatching the points against a rather hapless Seattle side. The match, teetering on a knife point for 50 minutes, was finely poised to swing wildly in either direction.

There were moments when it looked like Seattle might just find a way through, their rush-the-flanks tactics playing out well. But, it turns out, the side with four shots on target is always considerably more likely to win than the side that takes none. It is one of those simple facts of life, I do believe.

It was interesting, though, watching Seattle swing cross after cross into the box. They were successful with eight crosses — and, perhaps not surprisingly, unsuccessful with 27. 27! Seattle appeared so entirely bereft of ideas that they just hoofed the ball into the box, hoping that, with a bit of luck, somebody would toe poke the ball into the back of the net. Alas, poor Seattle: They didn't. Not by a long shot.

Indeed, we were more than happy to simply let Seattle swing the ball in toward the holy triumvirate: Rimando, Olave, Borchers: all three magnificent and irrevocably dominant. Ball coming into the box? No issue! Nick Rimando will pluck it from the air. Something a bit more in the center of the box being swung in? Never mind that, Nat Borchers has cleared it away! Somebody running to reach an overweighted cross? Hogwash; Jamison Olave is there in a flash.

We did, of course, try a bit of our own passing game, with Fabian Espindola taking up his usual flank positions and firing the ball in. A useful chap, that one, but his crossing didn't often find anybody of note. But the newly christened father's contribution wasn't in the cross, so much. It was in his running, his stretching the defense, his ability to just outrun a player through some means of trickery or some such.

Oh, right — and he did score a classy goal, didn't he? It was so much a trademark Espindola goal that it felt like one we've seen before, perhaps in a dream, perhaps in a laudanum-induced haze. I'm not entirely sure. His ability to just get 'round the player, why, it's inimitable! Incapable of being imitated, I say. (I say this knowing that, sure, it could be imitated, but it's not entirely likely to be. Anyway.) Just skip round the player, who's not entirely awake (does Seattle have a mandatory nap-time?), fire home the shot on the half-volley; why, that's a right beauty! It was a perfect goal to mark Espindola as the all-time leading goalscorer for the club. Perfect, I say.

The build-up — or almost entire lack of such — was important, too. Luis Gil fired in a through ball, which was cleared (is it really a through ball if it's cleared? I'm not entirely sure as to that.), then picked up the rebound, chipped the defense, and put the ball on a plate for Fabian Espindola, striker and samurai. Words only come close to the elation of scoring a goal in such circumstances. It was entirely deserved, not so much against the run of play, and by Jove, it was fantastic. Simply and utterly fantastic.

But it's far too easy to ignore the contributions of everyone else: Massive, the lot of them. Simply massive. Chris Wingert, fantastic when he was on the pitch, came out with a slightly spotty hamstring; Chris Schuler, in to replace him, slotted in at full back in a particularly interesting way. While at first I was a bit confused — I'd have thought switching Beltran to the left and bringing in Tanaka on the right would have been bang in order, Kreis saw an opportunity to switch things around just a bit.

As a result, we saw Chris Schuler on the left playing a hybrid role: In defense, he sat a little deeper, letting the wide midfielder on his side pick up streaking wingers; in attack, he swung out a bit wider. Olave, for his part, did the same in attack, and Tony Beltran got a bit further forward and drifted centrally at times. Our formation shifted from our typical diamond 4-4-2 to an odd 3-5-2/4-4-2. Later, when Alvaro Saborio was brought off (all these minutes he's played recently did make him look a little gassed), we moved into a crafty 4-5-1 with Yordany Alvarez and Kyle Beckerman playing in a double pivot midfield.

While we were certainly on the back foot during the later minutes, the method by which Kreis made his substitutions was not nearly as negative as it might have seen. It was, to my mind, a genuine attempt to set the side up to gain control of the ball a bit more. Tony Beltran, a massive contributor for our side as usual, looked right at home his wide midfield/wing back slot, and Will Johnson did the same on the left. By the end of the match, Alvarez — who was hugely important, Grabavoy, and Beckerman took up the center of the park and prevented too much from happening. It wasn't bunkering, by any means, but it wasn't us at our most swashbuckling. Of course, at times, that's not what we need, and we're 1-0 up on the road, who can blame us?

Our road form — and I'll talk about this during the week — has been a point of criticism over the years, but this season, we've done quite well, all told. Indeed, we're doing well overall, and we ought to be setting ourselves up for success later in the season. I'm proud of everyone involved with the club after last night: The players, for their dominant performance and steely resolve; the management, for the crafty way in which Jason made his substitutions — perfect, if you ask me — and the ongoing intuition by everyone on the bench; the fans, for undying support — and everyone in-between.

What a win.