In front of 55,107 fans at CenturyLink Field and a national TV audience, the stage could not have been much bigger Friday night.
But only the Sounders will want to cherish the memory. After a slow start to the season including a pair of losses at Rio Tinto Stadium the Sounders won for the eighth time in nine matches, overtaking RSL for Major League Soccer's top spot, with two games in hand on Salt Lake.
Salt Lake was out played, beginning with Seattle midfielder Andy Rose chasing down a ball behind the RSL back line and crossing to Obafemi Martins, who celebrated his eighth goal of the year with a backflip on the turf.
"We knew they were going to come out with that kind of energy and we still didn't do enough to stop them," said center back Nat Borchers. "The whole game we weren't sharp. You could tell we missed a weekend and we were a little rusty with the ball."
Real coach Jason Kreis said his team was simply "not good enough" to start the game.
"When you give away a goal in front of 60,000 people with a very good team like that, you're going to be in for a difficult night, and I think for the most part it was a difficult night," he said. "I honestly feel we got out competed."
RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando kept the score line close, sprawling out to save a Zach Scott header in the 7th minute and gobbling up another shot a minute later. Rimando was a bright spot on the night for Salt Lake, later denying Lamar Neagle one-on-one.
For a time in the first half, Salt Lake appeared to have weathered the Sounders' fury. RSL began stringing together passes and winning balls back in the attacking half. In the 31st minute, with the score 1-0, forward Joao Plata stole the ball off a Sounder's foot and appeared to have Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning beaten, but sent the would-be equalizer inches wide of the post.
Seattle, meanwhile, wouldn't wait until halftime to put the game out of reach.
In the 38th minute, the Sounders' DeAndre Yedlin found room to run down the right side, pushing the ball deep before sending a perfect cross to Neagle to double the lead.
Kreis brought Olmes Garcia off the bench, moving to a 4-3-3 in hopes of making up ground. But Salt Lake could not mount a significant attack. The team's best hope of cutting the lead came in the 80th minute, when midfielder Javier Morales sent a free kick into the box, the ball nearly crossing the line as it pushed Gspurning back toward the net.
With a 2-0 lead Seattle coach Sigi Schmid brought U.S. captain Clint Dempsey off the bench. But the former Tottenham Hotspur wasn't the only difference between Seattle's performance Friday and the team's first two meetings with RSL this year.
"I don't think we saw the best of Seattle when we beat them in Salt Lake," Kreis said. "And tonight was the best of Seattle. "[But] let's be fair, it wasn't the best of Real Salt Lake. So when we see the best of both teams, maybe we have a different result."
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O Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle each score their eighth goal of the season to down RSL 2-0.
• The shutout is RSL's first in 22 games across all competitions a stretch dating back to a 2-0 loss to the L.A. Galaxy on April 27.
• Referee Allen Chapman hands out seven yellow cards on the night, six of them to Real Salt Lake.
Earthquarkes 2, RSL 1
San Jose 2 0 2
Real Salt Lake 1 0 1
First half » 1, San Jose, Lenhart 3 (Cato), 18th minute. 2, Real Salt Lake, Morales 8 (Beckerman), 19th. 3, San Jose, Lenhart 4 (Salinas), 21st.
Second half » None.
Goalies » San Jose, Jon Busch Real Salt Lake, Nick Rimando.
Yellow CardsWingert, Real Salt Lake, 65th Goodson, San Jose, 68th Bernardez, San Jose, 74th Busch, San Jose, 90th+.
RefereeChris Penso. Assistant RefereesColin Arblaster. Mike Kampmeinert. 4th OfficialRicardo Salazar.
Attendance » 20,504 (20,008)
San JoseJon Busch, Victor Bernardez, Clarence Goodson (Jason Hernandez, 70th), Jordan Stewart, Steven Beitashour, Sam Cronin, Cordell Cato, Rafael Baca, Shea Salinas (Justin Morrow, 74th), Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart (Alan Gordon, 90th+).
Real Salt LakeNick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Carlos Salcedo (Robbie Findley, 78th), Chris Wingert, Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Khari Stephenson (Luis Gil, 59th), Devon Sandoval (Olmes Garcia, 59th), Joao Plata.