Seattle 2 – RSL 0: When a Win Isn’t Enough

It’s hard to point out the flaws in a team who managed to win a game handily, but Seattle had dug itself into a hole deep enough in the opening leg that even an effectively offensive performance and shutout couldn’t dig them out. Seattle’s formula seemed to be 2 fourths playoff desperation, 1 fourth strategy and 1 fourth Kasey Keller farewell.

The desperation portion is pretty obvious. The highly-touted offensive competitors in bright green needed to win or kiss their season goodbye. The Keller farewell was a bitter-sweet aspect of the night that even non-Sounders fans should appreciate. A USMNT veteran is hanging up his gloves and he represents an important notch in the lineage of successful American keepers.

The strategy portion is what we’ll briefly highlight, however. In our leg one report, we were obliged to sing the praises of an ironclad RSL defense spearheaded by Olave and Borchers. It just so happens both Olave and Borchers were a little too banged up to play in leg two, and Seattle was all over that. Our chalkboard highlights just how intensely the Sounders tried to exploit the weakened center back spots. Displayed here are Seattle’s shots, key passes and crosses:

Just as all roads once led to Rome, all balls led to the penalty spot right between the RSL center backs. Not even the crosses were made from deep behind the fullbacks. Instead, balls were lobbed into the 18 from more rear-central positions.

If RSL don’t recover the services of Olave/Borchers by the Conference Finals, their run may be doomed.

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