Sounders Remain Unbeaten in Physical Match Against RSL

Goals from Nate Jaqua and Fredy Montero preserved Seattle Sounders FC's unbeaten streak, as the expansion club ousted visiting Real Salt Lake 2-0.
By John Zielonka

Visiting Real Salt Lake lost in their season opener to the Seattle Sounders 2-0 before another raucous sellout crowd of 28,548 at Qwest Field.

Nate Jaqua, known for his scoring prowess against Real Salt Lake, and Colombian national Fredy Montero scored for the Sounders.

Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid was pleased with the win, but concerned about the dominance of Real Salt Lake in the second half. The shots on goals statistics reflected the change from one half to the other. In the first half, Seattle out-shot RSL eight to four. In the second half, RSL turned the tables and put nine shots on goal compared to Seattle’s four.

“I thought the first goal we scored was a great goal,” Schmid said. “The second goal, we knew over the course of the season that Fredy Montero was going to surprise a few goal keepers.”

Schmid also went on to praise Zakuani on Jaqua’s goal. Seattle’s first round draft pick from Akron made a number of impressive runs through RSL’s midfield and defense in the first half.

Jaqua netted his first goal of the season in the 17th minute after Osvaldo Alonso long pass to Zakuani, who danced around the RSL defense before passing to Jaqua, who scored his sixth goal in six games against Real Salt Lake.

Fredy Montero brought the crowd to its collective feet in the 77th minute with a rocket shot off his right foot ten yards outside the box. The ball wavered like a missile and headed high in the net over the outstretched arms of RSL goalie Nick Rimando. Last week’s MLS Player of the Week, Montero will once again gain accolades as the boy wonder of the MLS after scoring three times in two games.

First round MLS draft choice and midfielder Steve Zakuani made his first start of the season, replacing the injured Sanna Nyassi, who was nursing a hamstring injury. Zakuani made a number of runs in the first half and out of Seattle’s eight shots on goal, he and Jaqua had three each.

Freddie Ljungberg, Seattle’s designated player, playing for the first time since last June, entered the game in the 61st minute, replacing Zakuani. Ljungberg said, “I felt great. It was nice to be back on the pitch. I got some nice touches on the ball.”

Referee Baldomero Toledo tried to keep this physical game under control in the first half and issued four yellow cards. Real Salt Lake received three (Beckerman, Morales and Olave) and Seattle one (Alonso). Both team committed 25 fouls, with RSL edging out Seattle 13 to 12.

With the game drawing to a close the crowd began shouting in unison “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole…” and celebrated Seattle’s second win of the season. The Sounders' first away game, in Toronto with its own set of passionate supporters and atmosphere, should put MLS’ newest expansion team to the test.

John Zielonka is the Seattle correspondent.