SEATTLE (ABC4 Sports) – How does a team get out-shot 21-0 and still win an MLS Playoff game?
It has the heart and resiliency of Real Salt Lake.
After 120 minutes of scoreless soccer, Justen Glad buried the game-winning penalty kick to give RSL the victory over the Seattle Sounders in the first round of the MLS Playoffs.
Real Salt Lake moves on to face Sporting KC in the Western Conference Semifinal Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
“To borrow a phrase that I often hear across the pond, these guys were mentality monsters tonight,” said RSL interim head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “We talk about mentality all the time and tonight was a perfect example of what that mentality looks like. It was a tough game against a great team at their home and we found a way to win.”
The Sounders had several opportunities to knock RSL out in regulation. Seattle had 17 total shots and three on frame, but RSL goalkeeper David Ochoa kept the game scoreless through 90 minutes of regulation and 30 more minutes of overtime.
So it all came down to penalty kicks to decide the winner. After each team made all five of its PK’s in the shootout, it was on to extra kicks. Ochoa guessed right on Kelyn Rowe’s shot, setting up Glad’s heroics.
“All of the PKs, I tried to go with instinct and wait them out as long as I could,” Ochoa said. “I noticed that on the first five PKs, they all shot to my right and I dove to my left, I was thinking that. But like I said, I like to go by instinct. I thought I waited him out pretty good and it was a great feeling.”
Glad’s winning shot was deflected by Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei, hit one post, rolled to the other and trickled over the goal line for the winning score. RSL then stormed the field after winning the shootout, 6-5.
“That’s what I said to the guys is that no one is giving us a chance,” Mastroeni said. “No one has from the beginning of the season and finding ways to win in football is very difficult, especially when you are on the road coming to a place with a history and legacy like Seattle has and digging deep and taking what the game gives you. The guys found it and stuck together and I couldn’t be more proud of the group.”
Real Salt Lake played the game without captain Albert Rusnak after he tested positive for Covid. Rusnak has 11 goals and 11 assists this season. His availability for Sunday’s second round playoff game is unclear.